initiative

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Arizona: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Poised To Appear On November Ballot

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted 258,582 petition signatures to the Secretary of State on Thursday; 150,642 valid signatures needed to qualify

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee released a report Wednesday that estimates passage of the initiative will generate nearly $82 million in annual tax revenue, including more than $55 million for Arizona schools

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A citizen initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona is poised to appear on the November ballot after proponents turned in their petition Thursday with more than enough signatures to qualify.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) submitted 258,582 total signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State. With 150,642 valid signatures of Arizona voters needed to place the measure on the ballot, that appears to be a comfortable margin. The secretary of state is expected to determine whether the initiative has qualified by late August.

“We are very encouraged by the strong levels of support and enthusiasm we found among voters during the petition drive,” said CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Arizonans are ready to end the antiquated policy of marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

Arizona: DEA Agent Echoes Message of Billboard Supporting Marijuana Initiative

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The Independence Day-themed ad highlights benefits of regulating and taxing marijuana in Arizona: ‘Adults could buy American and support schools, not cartels’

A 23-year veteran of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who spent years investigating Mexican drug cartels is throwing his support behind the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Arizona and echoing the message of a billboard supporters launched this week at Tempe Marketplace.

“If Arizona regulates marijuana, adults could buy American,” reads the Independence Day-themed ad, instead of buying marijuana that has been illegally smuggled across the Mexican border into Arizona.

It also notes that revenue from regulated marijuana sales would “support schools, not cartels.” The proposed initiative would initially generate $64 million in annual state tax revenue, including $51 million for K-12 education and all-day kindergarten programs, according to an independent study conducted by the Grand Canyon Institute.

Arizona: Congressman Ruben Gallego Endorses Initiative To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

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Congressman Ruben Gallego on Monday announced that he is endorsing an initiative poised for the November ballot that would end marijuana prohibition in Arizona and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

“Forcing sales of this plant into the underground market has resulted in billions of dollars flowing into the hands of drug cartels and other criminals,” Rep. Gallego said. "We will be far better off if we shift the production and sale of marijuana to taxpaying Arizona businesses that are subject to strict regulations. It will also allow the state to direct law enforcement resources toward reducing violence and other more serious crimes.

“I am proud to support this initiative, as it represents a far more sensible approach to marijuana for our state,” Gallego said. “It will make Arizona communities safer, while also generating some much-needed tax revenue for our schools.”

Gallego, a Democrat who represents Arizona’s 7th Congressional district, which includes central and south Phoenix as well as western Maricopa County communities, announced his endorsement at a news conference on the House Lawn of the Arizona State Capitol. He was joined by leaders of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is supporting the initiative.

Arizona: Parents Launch Father's Day Billboard In Support Of Marijuana Legalization Initiative

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A group of concerned parents, organized for the purpose of highlighting the benefits of regulating marijuana to protect teens, will launch a Father’s Day-themed billboard Thursday in support of the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Arizona.

Parents for Responsible Regulation (PRR) will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. MST in front of the billboard in downtown Phoenix (two blocks south of Chase Field on the southwest corner of 7th and Lincoln Streets).

The billboard, which will be up through Father’s Day on Sunday, features a man embracing his teen son and stating: “Please, card my son. Regulate the sale of marijuana and help me keep it out of his hands.” It directs viewers to RegulationWorks.org, which details several ways in which regulating marijuana like alcohol would help protect teens.

“Our current system of marijuana prohibition has failed to keep marijuana out of the hands of teens," said PRR co-chair Sonia Martinez, a Gilbert-based attorney, past president of the Native American Bar Association of Arizona, and mother of two children, ages 9 and 10. "It forces marijuana sales into the underground market, where customers are never asked for ID and often exposed to other illegal products.

Maine: Legalization Initiative Would Force Merchants To Hide Marijuana Magazines

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maine's Marijuana Legalization Act, which has qualified for November's ballot and is being sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), would require merchants to keep marijuana magazines behind the counter if their stores are open to customers younger than 21.

An almost identical provision which was part of a bill passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2013 was so blatantly unconstitutional that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the state wouldn't enforce it, reports Jacob Sullum at Reason.com.

Yet, just three years later, MPP is asking Maine voters to approve the same restriction as the price they must pay for the state's "legalization" initiative.

The Marijuana Legalization Act which will be on the Maine ballot in November says "a magazine whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses may be sold only in a retail marijuana store or behind the counter in an establishment where persons under 21 years of age are present."

Arizona: Marijuana Legalization Backers Launch Mother's Day Billboards

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Backers of an initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona launched a pair of Mother’s Day-themed billboards in Phoenix and Tucson on Monday. An image of the billboard is attached, and a high-resolution version is available at http://bit.ly/1N3OkrX.

The ads, which are targeted at younger voters, feature a young woman sitting with her mother and ask: “Have you talked to your parents about marijuana?” The goal of the ads is to flip the script on marijuana education and encourage younger voters to start conversations about marijuana with their family members — especially older generations who have been led to believe marijuana is more harmful than it actually is.

The billboards direct viewers to a website — http://TalkItUpArizona.org — that allows them to send a message about marijuana to their parents or other relatives. The billboards will run through Sunday, which is Mother’s Day.

“For decades, the federal government distributed anti-marijuana propaganda to parents and encouraged them to share it with their children,” said CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “It’s time for younger folks to start sharing the facts about marijuana with their parents and other older relatives.

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Qualifies For November Ballot; Poll Shows Solid Support

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Maine state officials on Wednesday announced that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine has officially qualified for the November ballot.

After a court-ordered review of petitions it had previously invalidated, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures that were needed to qualify.

Last month, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question.

The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State’s Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.

Arizona: Drive For Initiative To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Reaches 200K Signatures

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The campaign needs to collect 150,642 valid signatures of Arizona voters to qualify for the November ballot

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Tuesday announced it has collected more than 200,000 signatures in support of a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona. The campaign needs to collect 150,642 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.

“Voters want to have their say on whether Arizona should end marijuana prohibition,” said Campaign Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “It’s appearing more and more likely that they are going to have that opportunity. We’re finding that most Arizonans agree marijuana should be regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.”

The proposed initiative would allow adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of marijuana, establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol, and enact a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, from which a majority of the revenue would be directed to Arizona schools and public education programs.

Maine: Court Rules In Favor Of Marijuana Legalization Supporters, Orders Review Of Signatures

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A Kennebec County Superior Court judge on Friday ruled that state officials may have improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on a proposed ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Justice Michaela Murphy found that state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The Secretary of State’s Office must now review all of the disputed petitions and place the initiative on the November ballot if it determines enough valid signatures were collected.

On March 2, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap informed the campaign that its proposed initiative did not qualify for the November ballot. With 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters required, state officials determined that initiative backers submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

In a document explaining his determination, the secretary of state said his office invalidated more than 5,000 petitions, which included more than 26,000 total petition signatures, solely due to its finding that the signature of a single notary did not “match” the signature the state has on file.

On March 10, supporters of the initiative filed a lawsuit challenging the decision.

Arizona: Marijuana Initiative Backers Issue Alcohol Awareness Month Challenge

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Alcohol Awareness Month Challenge to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery: Prove Marijuana Is More Harmful Than Alcohol or Return the Campaign Contributions He Received From the Alcohol Industry Last Year

Backers of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona on Wednesday issued a challenge to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is calling on Montgomery — who says marijuana is too dangerous to regulate for adult use — to either prove marijuana is more harmful than alcohol or return campaign contributions he received from members of the alcohol industry last year.

The CRMLA held a Wednesday news conference in front of the Maricopa County Administration Building, where the county attorney’s office is located. They provided Montgomery with a jumbo-sized refund check for $8,050 from his campaign committee, Montgomery 2016, to his “alcohol industry contributors.” Montgomery 2016 received at least $8,050 in contributions from members of the alcohol industry in 2015, according to campaign finance reports.

“Mr. Montgomery’s public statements about our initiative indicate that he feels like marijuana should remain illegal because of its potential harms,” said CRMLA chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Yet marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol by every objective measure, and he accepts campaign contributions from people who distribute alcohol.”

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Certified For Ballot; Supporters Prepare To Gather Signatures

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The Ohio Ballot Board on Thursday certified an initiative that would establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana must now collect 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

The five-member board reviews proposed ballot measures to ensure they represent only one issue.

Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“We plan to mobilize a large group of volunteers, and we’ll be enlisting the help of paid petitioners to meet the state’s sizeable signature requirement in the short amount of time we have,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the initiative.

“A lot of our volunteers are family members of patients or patients themselves, so they’re incredibly motivated," Tvert said. "The initiative process isn’t easy, but it pales in comparison to undergoing chemotherapy or witnessing your child have seizures on a daily basis.”

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Initiative Certified By Attorney General; Advances to Secretary of State

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The measure proposed by Ohioans for Medical Marijuana would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to legally access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Friday notified Ohioans for Medical Marijuana that he has certified the summary of the group’s proposed ballot initiative to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program and submitted it to the Ohio Secretary of State.

The attorney general confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

The Ohio Ballot Board will now have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws. Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

“We’re pleased with the attorney general’s determination and appreciate his guidance during this process,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the initiative. “Ohio is one step closer to adopting a sensible medical marijuana law that ensures seriously ill people have safe and legal access to their medicine. We’re looking forward to hearing back from the secretary of state and getting our petition drive started as soon as possible.”

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Maine: Marijuana Initiative Supporters File Lawsuit Challenging Ballot Disqualification

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Backers of an initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maine filed a lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court on Thursday challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the measure from the November ballot.

According to the suit, which is now available online at http://bit.ly/1pzNhVO, state officials improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on the measure.

Campaign leader David Boyer and attorney Scott Anderson announced the details of the suit at a news conference in the office of Portland law firm Verrill Dana. Anderson is representing a group of Maine voters who signed the petition in support of the initiative, including Boyer, State Sen. Eric Brakey, and State Rep. Diane Russell, among others.

Last week, the Secretary of State’s Office announced that the proposed initiative did not qualify for the November ballot. With 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters required, state officials determined that initiative backers submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

In a document explaining their determination, state officials said they invalidated more than 5,000 petitions, which included more than 26,000 total petition signatures, solely due to their finding that the signature of a notary did not “match” the signature the state has on file. It appears more than 17,000 signatures were otherwise valid signatures of registered Maine voters.

California: Anti-Marijuana Activist Is Determined To Stop Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Anti-marijuana activist Roger Morgan is determined to stop marijuana legalization in California -- and because of failure of Prop 19 in 2010, he feels he has a good chance.

Morgan is leading the Stop Pot 2016 campaign, the primary political opposition to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), the cannabis legalization initiative backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Napster founder Sean Parker, reports Zach Weissmuller at Reason.com.

Morgan's "Safe and Drug-Free Community Act" aims to keep commercial cannabis illegal, and to more heavily regulate medical marijuana in California.

In an often-contentious interview with Weissmuller, the two discuss what science does and doesn't say about the effects of cannabis on the brain; the unintended consequences of prohibition; and what lessons California voters can draw from legalization in places in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, and Alaska.

Ohio: Ohioans For Medical Marijuana Submit Initiative Petition To State Attorney General

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Backers of a proposed 2016 ballot measure to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio submitted their initiative petition to the Ohio Attorney General on Thursday with more than 2,000 signatures.

The office has 10 days to examine the official summary of the initiative and confirm the petition contains at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters. The petition will then be sent to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws.

Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November ballot.

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a campaign committee formed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), posted the full initiative text, the official initiative summary, and a Q&A with MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia on its website earlier this week at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“This initiative was drafted to ensure seriously ill Ohioans have safe and legal access to medical marijuana if their doctors believe it will alleviate their pain and suffering,” said MPP communications director Mason Tvert. “The one benefit of not already having a medical marijuana law is that we were able to incorporate the best practices and lessons learned from the 23 states that do have one.”

In summary, the initiative would:

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Backers Respond To Determination That Measure Didn't Qualify

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has responded to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, which announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine did not qualify for the November ballot.

At least 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters were required, and state officials determined that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

Based on a document the Secretary of State’s Office provided to the campaign, it appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures of registered Maine voters were not included in the count because the signature of an individual notary did not match the signature the state has on file for that notary. The notary’s commission is current, according to state records.

“We are very disappointed by the Secretary of State’s determination," reads a prepared statement from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "Based on documents they have provided, it appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures from registered Maine voters were excluded from the count because the signature of a single notary — whose notary commission has not expired — did not exactly match the signature the state has on file for that notary.

"We are exploring all legal means available to appeal this determination, and we sincerely hope that 17,000-plus Maine citizens will not be disenfranchised due to a handwriting technicality,” the statement reads.

Ohio: Details of 2016 Medical Marijuana Initiative To Be Released Tuesday

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Backers of a 2016 initiative effort to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio will release the details of the proposed ballot measure on Tuesday.

The full text of the initiative will be posted at https://ohioansformmj.org/initiative at 9 a.m. ET, and the Marijuana Policy Project, which helped draft the initiative, will hold a teleconference.

WHAT: Release of 2016 Ohio medical marijuana initiative language and teleconference to discuss the details of the proposal and answer questions from members of the media

WHEN: Tuesday, March 1, initiative text will be posted online at 9 a.m. ET; teleconference at 10:30 a.m. ET

WHERE: Initiative text at https://ohioansformmj.org/initiative

WHO: Heather Azzi, MPP campaigns analyst
Rob Kampia, MPP executive director
Mason Tvert, MPP director of communications

Ohio: 3 of 4 Voters Support Making Medical Marijuana Legal

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About three out of four Ohio voters support amending the state constitution to make medical marijuana legal for patients with terminal or debilitating conditions, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling.

The survey of 672 randomly selected Ohio voters was conducted February 17-18, just as advocates are preparing to launch a campaign in support of a constitutional ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. It found 74 percent of voters in favor and only 22 percent opposed, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

“It’s become pretty common knowledge that marijuana can be incredibly beneficial in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM), a committee that has been formed to support the forthcoming initiative. “It’s not surprising that a vast majority of voters agree patients should be allowed to consume it if their doctors think it could be helpful.

"There are few laws still on the books that are as unpopular as those that prohibit sick and dying people from accessing medical marijuana,” Tvert said.

OMM is currently working with local advocates to draft the initiative and expects to initiate the petitioning process later this month. If the petition drive is successful, the measure will appear on the November ballot.

“Ohio’s current marijuana policy is antiquated and inhumane,” Tvert said. “We hope to give voters an opportunity to change that this November.

D.C.: Council Reverses Opposition To Regulated Spaces To Consume Marijuana

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Council Creates Taskforce to Explore Creation of Designated Spaces for Marijuana Use

The Council of the District of Columbia on Tuesday voted to halt consideration of legislation that would permanently ban adult consumption of marijuana outside the home, and instead moved forward with the creation of a task force to explore the establishment of regulated places where adults can legally consume marijuana in the District.

"The will of District voters was upheld today by the Council, which voted unanimously to move forward on establishing regulated places where adults can consume marijuana," said Kaitlyn Boecker with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “One year ago this Council voted unanimously to ban such spaces, stripping residents of their rights under Initiative 71, but today Councilmembers righted that wrong and voted for reform,” said Boecker.

Initiative 71, which was overwhelmingly approved by District voters in 2014, legalized the possession of up to two ounces marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and allowed individuals to grow up to six plants in their home. The implementation of Ballot Initiative 71 in the District has resulted in an unprecedented drop in arrests for possession of marijuana.

D.C. laws prevented the ballot initiative from addressing the taxation and sale of marijuana, which requires action by the D.C. Council. However more than a year ago, Congress blocked D.C. lawmakers from using locally raised public funds to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Medical Marijuana Will Be On Florida Ballot In November

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By Derrick Stanley, Hemp News

Voters in Florida will again have an opportunity to legalize medical marijuana this November. Ballot organizers believe that the measure, which almost passed in 2014, will benefit from an increase in voter turnout in a presidential election year.

Growing support for medical marijuana legalization should help the measure pass in 2016. Ben Pollara, organizer of the petition drive for United for Care, said Wednesday "We feel very good that 60 percent plus of Florida voters will finally approve a true medical marijuana law."

The measure nearly passed in 2014, with 57.6percent of voters supporting the initiative; at least a 60 percent voter approval is required in Florida to approve a constitutional amendment.

More then enough voter signatures have already been collected to put the issue on the ballot. As of Wednesday 692,981 certified voter signatures had been collected, nearly 10,000 more than required.

Personal injury lawyer John Morgan is a major supporter and financial backer for the legalization initiative. He cites his brother's success in using marijuana to control muscle spasms as one of his main inspirations behind the campaign. Morgan has spent over $6 million in 2014 and 2016 in pursuit of medical marijuana legalization. He sent a message via e-mail to his supporters Wednesday night, saying "We're back. We're going to win for the patients. BELIEVE!"

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