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Updated: 11 hours 11 min ago

Vermont House Approves Bill to Make Marijuana Legal for Adults

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 16:43

Today, the Vermont House passed H. 511 in a 81-63 vote. Gov. Phil Scott has already pledged that he will sign the bill after it passes one more procedural vote in the Senate.

H. 511 would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and remove penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants, beginning in July. Meanwhile, a governor-appointed task force will issue a final report on how the state should tax and regulate marijuana sales and commercial cultivation by December 15, 2018.

If you are available next Tuesday, January 9, that would be a great day to visit the State House. Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and allied reform organizations will participate in “a full day of press, advocacy and education” beginning at 10 a.m. in Room 10 of the State House. For more details, and to RSVP, check out the Facebook event page.

Tuesday may also be the day the Senate passes H. 511.

The post Vermont House Approves Bill to Make Marijuana Legal for Adults appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Attorney General Rescinds DOJ Marijuana Policy Guidelines

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 05:45

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded the Department of Justice policy that directed federal law enforcement not to target individuals or businesses that are in compliance with state law.

In a memo to federal prosecutors dated January 4, Sessions said, “In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the Department’s finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions. …. Given the Department’s well-established general principles, previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement is unnecessary and is rescinded, effective immediately.”

From August 2013 until yesterday, the Department of Justice policy had been not to enforce federal marijuana laws against individuals or businesses in states that are complying with state medical or adult-use marijuana laws, provided that one of eight federal priorities is not implicated. A Department of Justice task force subcommittee on marijuana policy recommended in August that the policy described in the 2013 Cole memo be maintained going forward.

MPP’s Matthew Schweich made the following statement in a press release:

This extremely misguided action will enable a federal crackdown on states’ rights with regard to marijuana policy. Attorney General Sessions has decided to use the power of the federal government to attack the ability of states to decide their own laws. A majority of Americans support legalization, and Sessions has simply decided to ignore their views. In the states where marijuana is legal, voters approved those legalization policies at the ballot box. This is a direct attack on the will of the people.

This decision may very well lead to federal agents raiding licensed, regulated, and tax-paying businesses — these businesses are employing thousands of Americans and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for public services including substance abuse treatment programs and new school construction. MPP will be pushing Congress to pass legislation this year that establishes marijuana policy as a states’ rights issue and prevents federal interference.


The post Attorney General Rescinds DOJ Marijuana Policy Guidelines appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Rob Kampia Departs MPP

Sat, 12/30/2017 - 15:08

MPP co-founder, former executive director and recent director of strategic development Rob Kampia has departed MPP and its board. This decision was the result of a deliberative process that lasted several weeks. Kampia plans to launch a cannabis policy reform consulting firm in the near future.

The post Rob Kampia Departs MPP appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Cook County Commissioners Place Legalization Referendum on Ballot

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 10:05

By unanimous vote, the Cook County, Illinois, Board of Commissioners approved placing a question about legalizing marijuana on the county’s March 20, 2018 ballot. Voters who live in the county will see the following question on their primary ballot:

“Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?

Like voters across the state, Cook County voters appear to strongly support this sensible change. A March poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University found that 66% of voters in Illinois support a regulatory approach to cannabis control.

Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey put forth the measure, noting the obvious revenue boost cannabis taxation would bring to the county. But he said his real intent in supporting legalization is to end the disproportionate effect prohibition has had on communities of color.

The post Cook County Commissioners Place Legalization Referendum on Ballot appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Vermont Legalization Compromise Expected to Pass in January

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 09:43

In recent weeks, legislative leaders and Gov. Phil Scott have reaffirmed that the legalization bill, H. 511, is expected to pass in early January. If that happens, marijuana possession and limited cultivation will become legal for adults 21 and older on July 1, 2018.

Despite these reassurances, we know that the vote will be close in the House of Representatives, so we are still fighting to earn every vote we can get. Please take a moment to call or email your representatives and urge them to support passage of H. 511.

Earlier this year, the Vermont became the first state to pass a legalization measure through its legislature. Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by Gov. Scott, who opted to create a study commission to examine the issue. If the current measure becomes law, it will be the only legalization bill not passed through a voter initiative.

The post Vermont Legalization Compromise Expected to Pass in January appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Begins Public Discussion of Marijuana Regulations

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 10:07

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has begun its public policy discussion for the retail marijuana regulations to implement Question 4. While we will address a few items during the upcoming public hearings, the first few days have generally shown encouraging results! The commission has looked at a variety of issues around marijuana business licensing and has made a few key determinations already:

  • Businesses that derive more than 50% of revenue from marijuana may apply for a social consumption license, which would allow on-site consumption of marijuana. Other businesses that derive less than 50% of their revenue from cannabis sales may apply for a mixed-use license and may only sell marijuana in conjunction with another service, such as a restaurant, spa, movie theater, or yoga studio.


  • The regulations will give priority review to business license applicants who have lived in areas disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and who hire employees that live in areas of disproportionate impact. This change will help the communities that have been most affected by the racial disparity in enforcement of marijuana prohibition.


  • Applicants will receive priority for hiring people with prior drug convictions.


These decisions show the Cannabis Control Commission’s willingness to address the problems created by marijuana prohibition and the racial disparity in its enforcement, and we applaud their willingness to craft a fair and effective regulatory scheme. The commission will continue looking at draft regulations through next week, at which point the rules will be open for public comment. The final regulations are slated for March of next year.

The post Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Begins Public Discussion of Marijuana Regulations appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Congress Extends Window for Continuing Medical Marijuana Protections

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:35

On Thursday, Congress reached a deal that would continue current government spending for another two weeks while they work toward reaching a final deal on next year’s spending budget. This means that the amendment to the current budget, which prevents the Department of Justice from interfering in state medical marijuana programs, will remain in place for now.

In September, the amendment that would continue these protections for patients and providers who are in compliance with state law were included in the Senate version of the budget, but the House Rules Committee prevented the House from voting on it. Now, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees must decide if they will include this language.

Marijuana policy advocates were increasingly concerned at the end of this week. If the amendment had not been included in the budget, or if this deal had not been reached and the government shut down, it would have allowed Jeff Sessions to direct the Department of Justice to begin targeting state-legal medical marijuana programs for the first time since 2014. Sessions has been trying to get rid of these protections for months, and he sent a letter to Congress in May urging them to strip the amendment from the spending bill.

The new deadline is now December 22. Please contact your members of Congress, and urge them to protect state medical marijuana programs.

The post Congress Extends Window for Continuing Medical Marijuana Protections appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Minnesota Adds Two Qualifying Conditions to Medical Marijuana Program

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:04

Starting in July 2018, Minnesotans diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and autism spectrum disorders will qualify for medical marijuana. Congratulations to all the patients, families, and health care providers whose personal stories and expertise convinced regulators to expand the program.

Here’s the complete list of conditions that currently qualify for medical marijuana in Minnesota:

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
  • Glaucoma
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  • Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year
  • Intractable pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

The post Minnesota Adds Two Qualifying Conditions to Medical Marijuana Program appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Dallas Implements “Cite and Summons” Policy for Possession

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:38

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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First Maryland Dispensaries Opening

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 10:00

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

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 09:55

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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Travel Guru Rick Steves Joins MPP and Illinois Lawmakers to Support Legalization

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:49

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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New York Poll Shows 62% Support for Legalization

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 11:09

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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