ballot initiative

Nevada: Largest Paper Used To Support Pot Legalization -- Then Adelson Bought It

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Las Vegas Review-Journal supported legalization last year. It opposes it this year. The difference? Pot-hating conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson bought the paper last December.

As recently as last summer, the Review-Journal published an editorial strongly proclaiming that paper's stance "supporting the decriminalizing, regulating and taxing the sale of currently illegal drugs," including marijuana. The paper went on record as supporting an effort to legalize cannabis in the state that will go before voters this November, and just last year called for all presidential candidates to support "removing marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act."

Colorado: Proposed Ballot Initiative Would Eliminate 80% of Cannabis Products

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A proposed initiative to install a new cannabis-related measure into the Colorado Constitution would effectively end Colorado’s successful first-in-the-nation effort to permit the sale of recreational cannabis to adults, according to industry experts BDS Analytics.

The initiative would impose limits on cannabis product format and would restrict all cannabis products to a maximum 16 percent THC content. Drawing from its database of more than 10,000 products in Colorado and its wealth of data analysis professionals, BDS Analytics concludes that products on the market today that generate more than 80 percent of cannabis revenue would be banned.

In addition, almost every edible product (which account for 11.5 percent of sales) would have to be repackaged, according to the company.

“When we first encountered the proposed language we quickly understood it would have a dramatic effect on the market, and so we immediately began a meticulous analysis of how it might change the landscape for commercial cannabis,” said BDS Analytics CEO Roy Bingham. “Unfortunately, our instincts were correct.

"Should the initiative become a part of the Colorado Constitution, it would hobble Colorado’s fastest-growing industry,” Bingham said.

Montana: Medical Marijuana Initiative 182 Surpasses 30,000 Signatures

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A whopping 64 percent majority of Montana voters in 2004 approved Initiative 148, creating a state medical marijuana program, but in 2011 the conservative GOP-controlled Legislature repealed that law in a fit of reefer madness.

Initiative 182, currently gathering signatures and with just two weeks to go, aims to create a new medical marijuana program to assist the 12,000 Montanans who will lose safe access to cannabis on August 31 following the spring ruling by the Montana Supreme Court to uphold the 2011 repeal, reports Dustin Klemann at KPAX.

Organizers on Monday said they've gathered 30,000 signatures, more than enough to qualify for the November ballot.

"We want to take that law they passed in 2011, and the intention behind that law was to create a program that didn't work," said Kate Cholewa, spokesperson for the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, which is funding the effort. "We've been able to just function due to the court case that has enjoined several provisions of the law passed in 2011."

Ohio: Marijuana Policy Project Wants Medical Cannabis On November Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Marijuana Policy Project has set its sights on legalizing medicinal cannabis this November in Ohio.

Staff with MPP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that was behind the successful recreational marijuana legalization drive in Colorado, said they can learn from ResponsibleOhio's failed $20 million campaign to legalize recreational and medicinal cannabis last fall, reports Jessie Balmert of Gannett Ohio. Nearly two-thirds of voters opposed that ballot initiative, which would have handed control of commercial cannabis cultivation to a few campaign investors.

"It's quite clear that voters do not support anything that could be perceived as a monopoly or oligopoly," MPP spokesman Mason Tvert said. Ohio voters in November also approved a proposal from lawmakers to ban monopolies in the state constitution, a response on the marijuana investors behind the ResponsibleOhio attempt to monopolize commercial cannabis cultivation in the state.

MPP didn't back or invest in ResponsibleOhio's failed campaign, but the national group didn't actively oppose it, either. Now, though, MPP seems eager to distance itself from the expensive, futile effort. MPP won't be working with ResponsibleOhio leader Ian James or his political consulting group, according to Tvert.

California Cannabis Hemp Initiative Signature Drive To Begin October 31

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The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI 2016) is organizing a statewide infrastructure of volunteers and activists in a drive to qualify for the November 8, 2016 ballot.

The group's signature drive is set to begin October 31, 2015 through April 21, 2016, and CCHI 2016 will have just under 180 days to gather 600,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot, according to proponent Michael Jolson.

"We are at a 30-year low in the amount of signatures needed to qualify an initiative for the California ballot," Jolson wrote in a Wednesday fundraising email. "We will need to gather 365,880 signatures ... In order to attain the necessary 365,880 signatures, we will need to gross around 600,000 signatures by April 21, 2016! We will submit our signatures into the counties on April 26, 2016."

"We are building our grassroots volunteer infrastructure in preparation for our upcoming signature drive," Jolson said. "The more volunteers and activists we can get to help us organize our grassroots effort, the better chance we have of qualifying for the November 8, 2016 ballot!"

"We need to raise massive support throughout California," Jolson said. "We need help coordinating volunteers in all 58 counties and are organizing Regional Coordinators for this task.

"We are growing as a grassroots political movement towards 100 percent ending the prohibition of Cannabis Hemp," Jolson said. "We are gaining interest every day. We, the CCHI 2016, look forward to having your help with our all grassroots effort to end the prohibition of Cannabis Hemp in California!"

Maine: Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Raises More Than $53,000 In 2nd Quarter

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol reported Wednesday that it raised $53,011 in the second quarter of 2015 in support of a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine.

“Mainers are clearly excited about the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition,” said campaign manager David Boyer. “Most people agree that it’s time for our state to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy, and that’s exactly what we’re proposing. Regulating marijuana and taxing it like alcohol just makes sense.”

Maine residents accounted for more than 90 percent of the 190 total contributions that were made to the committee during the three-month period. The largest contribution, $50,000, was made by the Marijuana Policy Project, which has more than 200,000-plus supporters around the nation, including approximately 4,000 in Maine.

“The campaign is in full swing,” Boyer said. “In addition to raising thousands of dollars, we have already collected several thousand signatures. If we can maintain this momentum, I’m confident we will have what it takes to qualify for the ballot and run a strong campaign in 2016.”

The campaign is in the process of collecting the 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters that are needed to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is supporting a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateMaine.org.

Maine: State Lawmakers Choose Not To Place Marijuana Referendum On Ballot

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Maine state lawmakers on Monday decided they will not place a measure on the ballot to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use. LD 1380, sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland), was defeated in the House 45-98 and in the Senate without a recorded vote.

State senators on Monday unanimously killed another pro-legalization bill, LD 1401, sponsored by another Portland Democrat, Rep. Mark Dion, reports Mario Moretto at the Bangor Daily News.

“The legislature’s failure to act should not be mistaken for waning public interest in marijuana policy reform," said David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is in the process of placing a citizen initiative on the 2016 ballot that would end marijuana prohibition in Maine. "Elected officials have always followed the citizens’ lead on this issue.

"Maine voters will still have the final say, and we expect they will say it’s time to end marijuana prohibition," Boyer said.

“Marijuana prohibition is a counterproductive and antiquated policy," Boyer said. "Most people are just fed up with it at this point. It’s time to regulate marijuana, tax it, and start treating it similarly to alcohol.”

For more information on The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, visit http://www.RegulateMaine.org.

Graphic: The Smoking Bud

Arizona: New Poll Shows Majority Support For Ending Marijuana Prohibition

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Behavior Research Center’s latest Rocky Mountain Poll finds 53% support making marijuana legal for adults; just 39% are opposed

An independent poll released on Wednesday shows a majority of Arizona residents support ending marijuana prohibition.

The Behavior Research Center’s latest Rocky Mountain Poll found 53 percent of Arizonans support making possession of a small amount of marijuana legal for personal use. Just 39 percent are opposed.

Support outpaced opposition in all three of the geographical areas that were surveyed: 53-38 in Maricopa County; 47-43 in Pima County; and 58-38 in Rural Arizona. The survey of 701 Arizonans was conducted from April 29-May 15 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

“Arizonans are fed up with the failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is supporting a statewide ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. “They do not think adults should be punished just for consuming a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.

"It’s time for a more sensible approach, and that’s what our initiative proposes,” Holyoak said.

The campaign has collected more than 15,000 signatures since launching its petition drive three weeks ago. It must gather more than 150,000 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot.

Maine: Statewide Ballot Initiative To Legalize Marijuana Filed Tuesday

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Measure backed by diverse committee of Maine citizens — including state and local officials, businesspeople, and clergy — would establish a legal market for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older

A statewide ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol will be filed Tuesday with the Maine Secretary of State.

The leader of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, David Boyer of Falmouth, will submit the language along with the signatures of five registered Maine voters who support the measure, as required by state law. The five signers will be State Rep. Diane Russell of Portland; local farmer and former Republican State Rep. Aaron Libby of Waterboro; Androscoggin County Commissioner and Lewiston School Board Member Matt Roy; Rev. Deane Perkins of Belfast; and Sherry DaBiere, a York-based real estate agent and grandmother.

“I am supporting this initiative because it will make Maine a safer place for my children and my grandchildren,” DaBiere said. “Marijuana should be regulated and controlled so that we know who is selling it, what they’re selling, and where it’s being sold.

"I do not want future generations to be exposed to the same failed prohibition laws that I had to grow up with," DaBiere said. "It’s time to end the reefer madness.”

Ohio: Ballot Initiative Would Legalize Cannabis, Give Control To 10 Corporations

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

All cannabis legalization measures aren't created equally. Some of them, in fact, are written downright sloppily; the beleaguered medical marijuana patients in Washington state, for instance, could testify to that fact, with the problem-plagued implementation of I-502 seemingly headed toward shutting down safe access in that state.

The reason is that capitalism is beginning to eclipse activism in the race to legalize weed nationwide, as pointed out by David Downs on SF Gate.

The Ohio Ballot Board on Friday unanimously approved Responsible Ohio's amendment; Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the ballot petition's wording last week. That means the group can start collecting the 305,000 signatures it needs to quality for this November's ballot.

The amendment would legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational and medical purposes, and set up grow sites around the state. It would allow adults 21 and over to grow up to four plants per household, give medical cannabis to patients at cost, and create 1,000 retail and manufacturing licenses available to the general public.

Unfortunately, that's not all the proposal would do. Just 10 companies who funded the initiative -- the 10 firms in question have thrown in $36 million so far -- would be allowed to cultivate and extract cannabis in Ohio.

Maine: 3 York Selectmen Prevent Constituents From Having Say On Marijuana Policy

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Citizens for a Safer Maine on Friday announced it will not appeal a judge’s decision to allow the York Board of Selectmen to prevent a vote on a ballot measure that would make marijuana legal for adults.

“We’re confident an appeal would be successful, but at this point we cannot afford to continue playing this game with the selectmen,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which supported the measure. “We know there is support for ending marijuana prohibition in York, and we’re going to focus our resources on giving them a chance to vote on it in 2016 with a statewide ballot initiative.

“It’s unfortunate that three out of the five selectmen have needlessly and very likely illegally prevented their constituents from voting on this measure,” Boyer said. “It’s a disservice to the voters who elected them, and they’ll have to live with that.”

Citizens for a Safer Maine initially submitted more than 200 signatures of registered York voters to place a measure in front of the York Board of Selectmen in July. The board voted 3-2 against putting the measure on the ballot and, based on local initiative rules, provided the group with 30 days to collect an additional 641 signatures.

Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted nearly 1,000 signatures in August 27, but the Board of Selectmen again voted 3-2 against placing the measure on the ballot. In September, Superior Court Judge Paul Fritzche did not grant an injunction requested by the group to place the initiative on the November ballot.

California: Marijuana Policy Project Filing Committee For 2016 Legalization Initiative

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The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is filing a committee with the California Secretary of State on Wednesday to support a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in California. According to MPP, "It will be part of a broad coalition of local activists, community leaders, organizations, and businesses working to pass a measure similar to the one approved by voters in Colorado in 2012."

The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, will immediately begin raising funds to help place the measure on the November 2016 ballot. MPP was the largest financial backer of the Colorado initiative campaign.

“Marijuana prohibition has had an enormously detrimental impact on California communities," said MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia. "It’s been ineffective, wasteful, and counterproductive. It’s time for a more responsible approach.

“A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible," Kampia said. "Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.

“Marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than alcohol, and that’s how it needs to be treated," Kampia said. "Regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol just makes sense.”

D.C. Cannabis Campaign Collects 55,000+ Signatures To Put Legalization On November Ballot

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Members of Congress May Take Away DC Voter’s Right to Vote on Initiative

In less than 75 days, the DC Cannabis Campaign has collected more than twice the number signatures required to place Initiative 71 on November’s General Election ballot. However, the Campaign is alarmed that members of Congress may prevent District voters from being able to vote on the ballot initiative due to policy riders that were added to the District of Columbia’s 2015 appropriation budget.

“We are proud of our petition circulators who braved the heat to further democracy in the District of Columbia,” said Campaign chairman Adam Eidinger, “but I am very concerned that members of Congress will use their power to stop District of Columbia voters from being able to fully participate in the democratic process. We deserve the right to vote on Initiative 71.”

With the citizens of Colorado and Washington state voting to legalize marijuana in 2012, the Campaign believes that voters of the District of Columbia should be afforded the same right to vote on cannabis legalization. The appropriations rider introduced by Congressman Andy Harris (R, MD-1) on June 25 could prevent the District of Columbia Board of Elections from using its funds to print the ballots that include Initiative 71.

Worse, the policy rider may impede the District of Columbia’s decriminalization of marijuana law set to take effect mid-July and prevent any changes to the District’s medical marijuana program.

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Activists Gathering Signatures In 3 Towns

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Local marijuana legalization campaigns were launched in three Maine towns were launched on Monday by the group Citizens for a Safer Maine. Supporters in Lewiston, South Portland, and York hope to change municipal ordinances to remove all penalties for cannabis possession by adults.

The petition drive was launched in Kennedy Park in Lewiston on Monday afternoon, reports Tim Goff at WCSH. The ordinances would allow those 21 or older to possess and use marijuana on private property; public use would still be illegal, as would operating a vehicle while under the influence.

"It is illogical," said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "We have bigger fish to fry. There's violent crimes going on, there's property crimes and that is where our police resources should be spent."

"It's just a simple issue of freedom," agreed former state Rep. Stavros Mendros. "I'm not a big fan of marijuana. I think smoking it is a bad idea personally, with all due respect. I think it is dumb, bad for your health, but then again, so is being fat and no one is throwing me in jail for that, so you know it is about letting people live and have the freedom to live the way they want to live."

Alaska: Voters Will Decide On Marijuana Legalization In August

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

"North To The Future" is Alaska's state motto, and the future is cannabis legalization, according to the polls. State voters will get a chance to have their say at the ballot box on August 19 after supporters collected enough signatures to qualify an initiative for the ballot.

"They have hit the magic numbers," said Alaska elections director Gail Fenumiai on Tuesday, reports Michelle Theriault Boots at the Anchorage Daily News. The totals are still unofficial.

The signature threshold was reached on Tuesday morning by Alaska's Campaign to Regulate Marijuana. Totals posted on the Alaska Division of Elections' website showed 31,593 valid voter signatures had been counted.

Tim Hinterberger and fellow Campaign to Regulate Marijuana backers submitted more than 46,000 signatures on January 8. Alaska law requires 30,000 valid signatures to qualify. Initiative backers also met the requirement to gather signatures from at least 30 of the state's 40 House districts. The effort is co-sponsored by Hinterberger; Bill Parker, a former deputy commissioner in the Alaska Department of Corrections; and Mary Reff.

Wyoming: Group Ready To File Initiative For Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The group "Weed Wyoming" plans to file a state ballot initiative for 2016 to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.

The nonprofit group has drafted the Weed Wyoming Compassionate Use Act, a measure that focuses on medical rather than recreational uses of cannabis, reports Kelly Byer at the Casper Star-Tribune.

Members believe the medical marijuana initiative has a better chance than an all-or-nothing attempt for outright legalization, according to a Weed Wyoming press release.

The initiative would allow qualified patients to grow up to 10 marijuana plants, and possess up to 10 ounces. Marijuana could be smoked anywhere where tobacco smoking is allowed. If the cannabis is being vaporized rather than smoked, "it may be used anywhere within the State," according to the measure's language.

The Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is also trying to put an initiative on the 2016 statewide ballot to legalize hemp and cannabis.

Weed Wyoming Facebook page

Florida: Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative Push Gets Final Approval

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Florida medical marijuana advocates on Wednesday got final approval from the Department of State to start collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would legalize medicinal cannabis in the state constitution.

The medical marijuana petition now has a serial number, and supporters can begin getting the almost 700,000 signatures needed by February 1 to put the issue before voters in 2014, reports Zac Anderson at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM), the group behind the constitutional amendment, plans to send out paid signature gatherers to blanket the state; such an effort could cost more than $3 million.

The group raised almost $200,000 between January and March, with more than half of that total coming from political powerbroker and personal injury lawyer John Morgan. PUFMM's second-quarter fundraising total hasn't been reported yet, but it will be similar to the first quarter's total, according to campaign coordinator Ben Pollara.

Pollara and Morgan will now begin an aggressive fundraising push, with the petition finalized.

"We're very excited the petition got approved and now we're restarting the real work of the campaign," Pollara said.

Most of the money will come from a small group of wealthy donors with an interest in the issue, according to Pollara "We're in the late stages of these conversations," he said.

Alaska: Marijuana Legalization Push Begins

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Alaska could be the next battleground in the effort to legalize marijuana.

A ballot initiative application on Friday was certified by Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, whose office oversees elections.

The proposal would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, though not in public. It would also set up rules for legal cultivation and establish an excise tax on marijuana.

Supporters will have a year to collect valid signatures from 30,169 voters across the state in order to get the question on the 2014 ballot. The group plans to get it done by January and have it on next year's primary ballot, according to petition sponsor Tim Hinterberger, reports The Associated Press.

"It really seems like the whole mood has radically shifted," Hinterberger said.

The conversation is no longer about whether cannabis should be legalized, according to Hinterberger. "Everybody assumes it's going to happen, and now it's just figuring out the details," he said.

"Obviously getting approved by the lieutenant governor's office is a good step indicating that we're not going to run into roadblocks," Hinterberger said. "We're ready to roll."

After about a week -- the time required to prepare the petition booklets -- proponents can start gathering signatures, according to Gail Fenumiai, director of the Alaska Division of Elections.

Maine: Ballot Initiative To Legalize Marijuana In Portland One Step Closer

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A measure to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults in Portland, Maine, is likely to be on the ballot this fall.

A coalition led by the Portland Green Party on Thursday morning handed in petitions with more than 3,200 signatures to city officials, the first step in getting the proposal on the November ballot, reports the Portland Press Herald. The city requires 1,500 valid signatures for citizen initiatives to qualify for the ballot.

The proposal would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, while prohibiting its use in public spaces such as parks, schools, and sidewalks.

The law is vague on how adults could actually get marijuana, but according to Tom MacMillan, chair of the Portland Green Independent Committee, it's "likely" to be available through existing medicinal cannabis dispensaries (which we don't see as likely at all, unless and until the law changes on a statewide level). Distribution would be left up to the Portland City Council if the ordinance passes, MacMillan said.

Legalizing pot could lead to less use by young people, because it could eliminate the black market and make buying cannabis subject to the same type of age checks as alcohol purchases, MacMillan said.

Idaho: New Medical Marijuana Petition Drive Aims For 2014 Ballot

Photo - Idaho: New Medical Marijuana Petition Drive Aims For 2014 BallotBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Compassionate Idaho on Friday, March 15 will release a new petition to put medical marijuana on the 2014 ballot for the voters to decide.

The petition will address the failed medical marijuana policy of Idaho that is currently putting seriously and terminally ill patients in the position of being "criminals," according to the group.

"This petition, once law, will protect our seriously and terminally ill patients and their caregivers from arrest, prosecution, and forfeiture for obtaining medical marijuana," Compassionate Idaho said in a prepared statement.

The petition is already available for reading at www.compassionateidaho.org, although it doesn't yet have its short and long ballot titles back from the Idaho Attorney General, according to the group.

Once Compassionate Idaho gets the petition back from the state Attorney General, they plan to post a downloadable PDF file of the petition for circulation around the state. Circulation instructions and downloadable voter registration cards will also be available.

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