Next Senate Judiciary Chair May Be Open to Marijuana Reform

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a longtime ardent marijuana legalization opponent, announced Nov. 16, 2018, that he is stepping down as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in order to take over a separate leadership position, potentially paving a path forward for cannabis legislation in the 116th Congress. Next in line for the chairmanship […]
Marijuana

Marijuana Reform On Agenda for 3 Democratic Chair Hopefuls

Three Democratic lawmakers poised to chair major House committees have each gone on the record saying marijuana reform will be on the agenda in the next Congress when they and fellow party members take control of the gavels. Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who’s expected to chair the House Financial Services Committee, told The Wall […]
Marijuana

Another election, and another historic night for marijuana reform!

Another election, and another historic night for marijuana reform.

Michigan has passed legalization! MPP played a central role in this campaign from start to finish. From coordinating the initiative drafting to overseeing the production of TV ads, MPP staffers worked alongside a excellent campaign team for two years to make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to adopt legalization. This is a huge win that will maintain our momentum in Washington, D.C. to pass a landmark federal reform bill through Congress in the near future.

Utah passed medical marijuana! MPP led the drafting process and played an important supporting role throughout the campaign. We are so proud of the Utah Patients Coalition team on this historic win that will end the heartless policy of criminalizing patients. If we can pass medical marijuana in Utah, then we can pass it in any state in the country…and we will.

In Missouri, voters approved medical marijuana, and they chose the best of the three possible initiatives. We congratulate our allies in the marijuana reform movement for this important win that will help patients access the medicine they need.

Sadly, North Dakota did not pass its legalization initiative. In such a conservative state, it was always an uphill battle. The proponents ran a strong campaign, but in a midterm year, the electorate was always going to be a challenge. North Dakota passed medical marijuana in 2016. It’s only a matter of time before the state adopts legalization, either via ballot initiative or legislative action.

As a movement, we won three out of four states. And for MPP, we’ve now played a leading role in seven of the 10 states that have legalized marijuana for adults (Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, and Michigan).

We couldn’t do this work without the support of voters, allies, activists, and donors. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who made these crucial victories last night possible.

In other great news, voters elected at least seven governors who support ending marijuana prohibition — Ned Lamont in Connecticut, JB Pritzker in Illinois, Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Tim Walz in Minnesota, Gavin Newsom in California, Jared Polis in Colorado, and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan. For more details, check out our elections page.

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Illinois: Cannabis reform candidates J.B. Pritzker, Kwame Raoul, Bob Morgan cruise to victory

Yesterday’s blue wave in Illinois poised to become a green wave next session

Gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, who has been a vocal supporter of legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis for adults’ use, appears to have handily won yesterday’s gubernatorial election. While official election results are still pending, both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times reported a margin of victory of around 55% of the vote.

In the race for state attorney general, cannabis reform supporter Sen. Kwame Raoul also notched a win with around 54% of the vote. Both J.B. Pritzker and Kwame Raoul were rated A+ candidates by MPP leading up to the election for their strong positions in support of sensible marijuana policy.

And a hearty congratulations go out to friend-of-the-movement Bob Morgan, who won the 58th District seat in the Illinois House of Representatives! Morgan headed up the successful launch of the state’s medical cannabis program, and as a private attorney, Bob has continued to be engaged in cannabis reform. He is a welcome addition to the General Assembly.

Yesterday’s results come as Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy prepare to introduce a revised bill for the session starting in January that would legalize cannabis for adults in Illinois. This moment is a huge step toward the bill’s passage and an exciting moment for those who seek an end to cannabis prohibition in Illinois.

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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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Maine Legislature overrides Gov. LePage on medical marijuana reform

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.

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Denver Mayor Leads National Mayors’ Coalition Calling for Federal Marijuana Reform

Mayor Michael Hancock wasn’t a fan of legal marijuana before Colorado voters approved it in 2012, but he’s since become a public defender of the plant — or at least, the actions taken by the City of Denver to comply with Amendment 64. On Sunday, June 10, Hancock’s office announced that he’s spearheading a coalition of mayors from around the country in an effort to push Congress to protect states with legal pot.

Although he originally opposed legalization efforts, Hancock was the mayor of the first major city to legalize marijuana, and since the first recreational sales on January 1, 2014, Denver has become into one of the nation’s capitals of legal weed, with over 200 dispensaries and 1,100 licensed pot businesses now operating in the city, according to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. Now, he and mayors of at least eight other cities are asking Congress to listen to them about their experiences so that legalization “can be done smoothly, safely and effectively.”

“With 46 states having some form of legalization, the reality is legal marijuana is coming to a city near you. As mayors of cities that have successfully implemented and managed this new industry, we have hands on experience that can help Congress take the right steps to support other local governments as they prepare to enter this new frontier,” Hancock said in an announcement of the coalition. “We all will face common challenges when it comes to legalizing marijuana, and those challenges need federal solutions so implementation can be done smoothly, safely and effectively.”

The group was established during the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, which ends June 11 in Boston. Hancock is the current head of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors.

His coalition wants more protection for an industry that has collected nearly $ 5 billion in revenue in Colorado alone since 2014, including clear and legal access to banking services and the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

According to the mayor’s office, the group’s official goals are as follows:

  • Removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, which would allow banks and other financial institutions to work with state-compliant marijuana-related businesses, and allow employers in the cannabis industry to take tax deductions similar to those enjoyed by other businesses.
  • Providing updated guidance to financial institutions that are providing or seek to provide services to commercial cannabis businesses.
  • Approving the McClintock-Polis amendment to annual federal appropriations legislation to safeguard state and local government marijuana reforms.
  • Extending safe and legal access to medicinal marijuana to U.S. military veterans.
  • Maintaining the Rohrabacher-Joyce-Blumenauer amendment, which protects states’ rights by prohibiting the federal government from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

Calls by the legal pot industry for amped-up state protection have been common since United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked protective federal guidelines for state-legalized marijuana businesses and users in January; Hancock even released a statement of his own condemning Sessions for the move and calling on Congress to intervene. There haven’t been any reports of federal authorities cracking down on state-compliant pot businesses since Sessions’s move in January, though, and Robert Troyer, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, said his office wouldn’t change the way it approached marijuana enforcement.

Sessions, who was in Denver on June 8 to speak at the Western Conservative Summit, was mum on marijuana while in the Mile High City. But the same day he was at the Summit, President Donald Trump said he’d “probably” support a bill from Colorado Senator Cory Gardner and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren that would officially protect state-legalized and compliant marijuana businesses and users from prosecution by federal agencies.

Along with Hancock, coalition members include Mayor Heidi Williams of Thornton, as well as mayors Mark Farrell (San Francisco), Jenny Durkan (Seattle), Libby Schaaf (Oakland), Tedd Wheeler (Portland), Christopher Cabaldon (West Sacramento), Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles) and Carolyn Goodman (Las Vegas).

Although Thornton didn’t approve dispensaries until last year, the potshop ban was a city council decision, with the town’s first dispensary opening under Williams in November 2017.

Toke of the Town

Louisiana Legislature passes medical marijuana reform this session

This session, the Louisiana Legislature passed two bills to expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. HB 579 and HB 627 add a variety of new conditions including autism, PTSD, and intractable pain. These bills are now on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. If you have a second, call the governor and politely ask him to sign HB 579 and HB 627. His constituent services number is (225) 342-0991.

This is a great step towards Louisiana having a functional medical marijuana program. Next session, we are hopeful the legislature will allow the vaporization of medical marijuana so that patients can finally have real access to the medicine they need.

Many thanks go out to the activists that showed up to the statehouse and contacted their lawmakers in support of these reforms!

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Utah Primary Nomination Reform Scuttled, but Medical Marijuana Will Go on Ballot

By Julian Hattem SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An initiative to allow Utahns to decide whether to legalize medical cannabis will be on the ballot, but a separate initiative to reform the state’s partisan nominating system failed to make the ballot after opponents convinced nearly 3,000 people to withdraw their names from a petition in […]
Marijuana

Former Head of the NRA Calls for Gun Reform for Medical Marijuana Patients

Whether its restrictions on their banking activities, ability to travel, medical care, or education, medical marijuana patients still have freedom to fight for in America — including their inability to legally own a gun. Last week, the former head of the National Rifle Association (NRA) came out in defense of medical marijuana users in an […]
Marijuana

Kentucky Legislature Considering Marijuana Policy Reform

The Kentucky Legislature began its 2018 session last week, and marijuana policy reforms are already among the top issues being discussed in Frankfort. A medical cannabis bill, HB 166, has already been introduced in the House.

But that’s not all. Sen. Dan Seum, chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, held a press conference to announce that he is introducing a bill, SB 80, that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please send your representatives and senators a message and urge them to support reforming marijuana laws in 2018.

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California’s Lt. Gov. Calls Legal Weed “Criminal Justice Reform”

Gavin Newsom, California’s Democratic Lt. Gov. for the past six years, was an early supporter of marijuana legalization. A candidate for governor in 2018, Newsom took to social media Thursday to express his support for ending marijuana prohibition as a means of “fixing a broken system.” According to The Washington Post, California’s elected officials are […]
Marijuana

Massachusetts: Expungement and Criminal Justice Reform Heads to The House

Passed by the Massachusetts Senate in late October, a bill that would allow individuals convicted of marijuana possession to expunge their criminal records will be debated by the full House Monday. The bill named An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform – officially known as Senate Bill S.2200 – passed the Senate by a vote […]
Marijuana