Maryland: Early voting has begun

Check out the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition’s voter guide to find out where candidate’s stand on marijuana policy!

Maryland’s General Election Day is less than two weeks away, and early voting is already underway! Now is the perfect time to study up on where your candidates stand on legalizing and regulating cannabis.

The Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition has put together a comprehensive voter guide with the results of their candidate survey. Please check it out, share it on social media, and go make your voice heard!

In the gubernatorial race, here’s a look at where candidates stand: Ben Jealous (D) is a vocal supporter of legalizing and regulating marijuana. Meanwhile, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has not expressed support for legalization, but did recently say it was “worth taking a look at.”

If you are registered to vote, you can cast your ballot early now through Thursday, November 1. If you are not yet registered to vote, you have until November 1. Then, Election Day is set for Tuesday, November 6.

Please forward the message to your network in Maryland, and be sure to get out and vote!

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

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.

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Want to know where Maryland candidates stand on cannabis legalization?

While we are disappointed that the General Assembly did not allow Marylanders to vote on cannabis legalization this fall, Marylanders will be able to vote on them — all members of the legislature are up for election this year. We want to make sure that voters are informed about the candidates’ views on cannabis policy, so we published this voter guide.

If your candidate of choice hasn’t responded to our survey, please ask them to do so! Their contact information will be listed in the guide, and late responses will also be published. Remember, you can only vote in the primary of the party you belong to (you can check your registration here). If you are a Democrat, please check out the Marijuana Policy Project’s Voter Guide for the Gubernatorial Primary as well.

If you’re a Maryland resident, learn more about the candidates’ positions, and share this message with your friends and family in Maryland.

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Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition Releases General Assembly Voter Guide, Grades Candidates’ Marijuana Policy Positions Ahead of June Primary

The Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition released a General Assembly voter guide that documents and grades candidates’ positions on cannabis policy. The release comes exactly two weeks before early voting begins in the 2018 primary election (June 14).

The web-based voter guide can be found at MarylandCannabisPolicy.org. In March, the Marijuana Policy Project released a separate guide to the Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates.

The General Assembly voter guide is based on a questionnaire that was sent to the 550 official House and Senate candidates contending in the June 26 primary. Candidates were asked for their positions on regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use and home cultivation, as well as for comments on the controversial implementation of the state’s medical cannabis program. The guide also notes whether candidates have previously co-sponsored bills to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults or refer the question to voters. Legislation that would have allowed voters to decide was debated in the General Assembly this year, but it did not receive a vote.

“Marylanders do not get to vote on legalization this year, but they do get to weigh in on the legislators who declined to put it on the ballot,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This is their chance to send a message to current and future lawmakers that legalizing, regulating, and taxing cannabis for adult use should be a priority for lawmakers next year. Most people recognize cannabis prohibition has been a costly failure and they want to know where their candidates stand.”

Sixty-four percent of likely Maryland voters support making cannabis legal for adults, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted in September 2016.

Advocates also expressed concern at the large number of candidates who have not responded to the questionnaire, which was sent out over a month ago. More than three out of four candidates have not responded yet, including more than 125 incumbents.

“Maryland’s cannabis policy affects everyone in the state, and it is receiving a significant amount of debate in the General Assembly,” Bell said. “Many voters care deeply about this issue, and they deserve to know where the candidates stand on it. It is disappointing to see so many candidates are still not on the record on cannabis policy, and we are encouraging voters in their districts to contact them directly to get them on the record.”

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News briefs: North Dakota Receives 17 Applications to Grow Marijuana; former NAACP Head Calls For Full Legalization in Maryland

17 apply so far to be medical pot growers in North Dakota BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s Health Department has received 17 applications so far from potential manufacturers of medical cannabis. Medical Marijuana Division Director Jason Wahl says the deadline was Thursday, April 19, 2018, but it has been extended until April 23, 2018, […]
Marijuana

Bills to Improve Maryland Decriminalization Law Stuck in Committee With Deadline Approaching

Maryland has decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. But 10 grams is a lower threshold than the vast majority of states that have eliminated jail time for cannabis possession, many of which use one ounce as the cutoff. As a result, in 2016 at least 4,300 people were criminally prosecuted for cannabis possession in Maryland. SB 127 would raise the threshold to one ounce.

SB 128 would address the problem that people in possession of less than 10 grams are still being criminalized in some jurisdictions by being charged with “possession with intent to distribute” — a felony — based on very limited evidence (like having their cannabis in more than one baggie). In order to address this overcharging, SB 128 would create a legal presumption that people who have less than the amount decriminalized should not be charged with possession with intent to distribute.

Both of these bills are sitting in the House Judiciary Committee, and with the legislative session ending Monday night, lawmakers need to hear from you to ensure the bills get a vote.

If you are a Maryland resident, please ask your delegates to make sure SB 127 and SB 128 pass this year.

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Deadline Looming for Maryland Cannabis Bills

Monday is a crucial deadline for marijuana policy reform bills in Maryland. HB 1264, which would let Marylanders vote on regulating marijuana for adults, needs to move out of the House Judiciary Committee by then to stay alive this year. HB 602, a bill that would protect the rights of Maryland’s medical cannabis patients, must be voted on by the Senate in order to “cross over” to the House of Delegates and move forward during this session.

If approved by 60% of both chambers of the Maryland Legislature, HB 1264 would place a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot that would make possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis legal for adults 21 years of age and older and require the state to establish regulations and taxation for a legal cannabis market, as well as to ensure diversity in the cannabis industry.

HB 602 would ensure that patients don’t lose their Second Amendment rights under state law simply because medical cannabis helps them with their serious illness. Regardless of what you think about Maryland’s gun laws, no patient should have to lose any of their legal rights because of their status as a patient. This is of particular concern to veterans, who may be dissuaded from trying medical cannabis — a much safer alternative to the opioids they are frequently prescribed for pain or PTSD — because they don’t want to lose these rights.

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MPP Publishes Voter Guide for Maryland Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

MPP has just released our voter guide for the Maryland gubernatorial primary election. We hope that Maryland’s Democratic voters will find this guide useful as they prepare to vote in the state’s Democratic primary elections on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. There are big differences between the candidates, whose grades range from A+ to C based on their responses to our survey, public statements, and record in office. We plan to update our voter guide with information on the general election candidates after the primary.

This is an important election because, even if marijuana legalization appears on the ballot alongside the gubernatorial candidates (which we hope it does), the governor will have a lot of influence over the implementation of taxation and regulation of marijuana. The field is still wide open, as nearly half of Democratic voters remain undecided. The voter guide also provides contact information for all the candidates, and we encourage you to contact them to share your views on marijuana policy reform — and encourage them to discuss the issue.

If you want more information on how to register to vote, please visit the Board of Elections website.

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Maryland Senate Approves Bill to Address Criminal Overcharging

Back in 2014, Maryland lawmakers decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. Unfortunately, in some jurisdictions, people in possession of less than that amount are still being criminalized. Increasingly, some prosecutors are charging individuals with “possession with intent to distribute” — a felony — based on very limited evidence, like having their marijuana in more than one baggie (which could easily be because they purchased it that way or had a few different strains, rather than because they were selling it).

In order to address this overcharging, Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, introduced SB 128, which MPP supported. The bill just passed the Senate 45-1. The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.

SB 128 would simply create a legal presumption that people who have less than 10 grams should not be charged with possession with intent to distribute. Prosecutors could still make the case if there’s evidence of an intent to sell.

Even being arrested for a felony can have serious collateral consequences. For example, some jobs will suspend or fire employees immediately due to a felony arrest. Lawmakers intended to reduce the number of people caught up in the criminal justice system for having small amounts of marijuana — ask them to help fulfill that goal by passing this bill.

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To Encourage Minority Ownership, Maryland House Votes to Expand Grow Licenses

By Brian Witte  ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland House of Delegates has voted to expand the number of licenses allowed to grow medical marijuana to increase minority business ownership. The House voted 121-16 for the measure on Thursday. The bill now goes to the Senate. The number of allowed growers would rise from 15 […]
Marijuana

Maryland to Hold Hearings on Legalization Ballot Bill

The bills to let the people of Maryland decide whether the state should tax and regulate cannabis for adults, SB 1039 and HB 1264, will have hearings beginning tomorrow and on March 13.

 

In order for the people to vote on whether to end marijuana prohibition, lawmakers must pass SB 1039 or HB 1264 to put the issue on the November 2018 ballot. If you are a Maryland resident, please ask your lawmakers to allow voters to put an end to the failed and biased policy of cannabis prohibition and replace it with a system that allows adults to lawfully consume a substance that is safer than alcohol. You can also click here for more information on these bills.

If you are interested in sharing your personal story with lawmakers, please contact us!

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Maryland Begins Session With Marijuana Policy on the Agenda

Maryland’s legislative session began earlier this month, and there are several cannabis policy issues already on the agenda. MPP and our allies in the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition are supporting an effort to let the people of Maryland decide whether the state should tax and regulate cannabis for adults.

Unlike many other states, Maryland citizens can’t collect signatures to put an issue on the ballot. In order for the people to vote on an issue, lawmakers must pass a bill that puts a constitutional amendment on the ballot. We hope that Maryland lawmakers will allow voters to put an end to the ineffective, costly, and unfair policy of cannabis prohibition and replace it with a system that allows adults to lawfully consume a substance that is safer than alcohol.

In other news, the legislative black caucus introduced a bill that would license additional businesses that could go to women and minority-owned businesses in light of a disparity study that found these groups were at a disadvantage in the licensing processes. And Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, has introduced bills that would expand Maryland’s decriminalization law, SB 127 and SB 128.

If you are a Maryland resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them you want the chance to vote on legalization this year.

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First Maryland Dispensaries Opening

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.

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