Marijuana Policy Project

U.S.: National Conference of State Legislatures Urges De-Scheduling Cannabis

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Resolution approved by state lawmakers from around the nation expresses support for amending the Controlled Substances Act to enable financial institutions to provide banking services to state-legal marijuana businesses; would give states control of their own marijuana policies without federal interference

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Illinois: Cards Against Humanity Donates $70K To Legalize Cannabis

Cards Against Humanity

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Cards Against Humanity, a popular adult-themed party card game company out of Chicago, is putting some cash behind efforts to legalize recreational cannabis use in Illinois.

To date, Cards for Humanity has donated $70,000 to the Marijuana Policy Project’s (MPP) efforts to legalize cannabis in Illinois.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D), Sponsor of a bill to regulate cannabis for adult use, is a fan of the card game.

Michigan: Recreational Cannabis Initiative Allowing 12 Plants Per Household Moves Forward

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for recreational use in Michigan is gaining momentum as the coalition raises awareness throughout the state. The group, which has gathered half of the signatures needed to put the issue before voters in 2018, is seeking to end cannabis prohibition with a proposal 12 plants per household.

Utah: Poll of Likely Voters Shows 73% Support for a Medical Cannabis Ballot Initiative

Utah Medical Marijuana Poll - February 2017

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A February poll of 402 Utahns found that 73% of voters support a medical cannabis ballot initiative, with only 20% opposed and 7% undecided.

“The poll results show overwhelming and broad support for medical cannabis in Utah,” said DJ Schanz, director of Utah Patients Coalition, a political campaign committee formed to support a 2018 ballot initiative to establish a medical cannabis program in Utah. “Voters believe that patients should be able to safely and legally access the medicine they need.”

New York: Senate Passes Bill Allowing Patients With PTSD Access to Medical Cannabis

New York Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A bipartisan proposal to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for New York’s medical cannabis program has received final approval from state lawmakers and is headed to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Senate passed S 5629 on Tuesday (50-13), and the Assembly version, A 7006, received overwhelming approval in May (131-8).

S 5629 was introduced by Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) with a bipartisan coalition of seven co-sponsors, including Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who previously opposed medical marijuana legislation. A second bill, A 7006, was introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried (D-Manhattan) with bipartisan support.

United States: Federal Appeals Court Quashes States’ Attempt To Halt Colorado’s Recreational Cannabis Law, Allows RICO Suits

Court Quashes States’ Attempt To Halt Colorado’s Recreational Cannabis Law, Allows RICO Suits

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Wednesday, a three-judge panel for 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a lower court’s dismissal of Nebraska and Oklahoma's attempt to overturn Colorado’s recreational cannabis law, according to the Denver Post.

Vermont: Gov. Phil Scott Vetoes Social Cannabis Bill, Offers ‘Path Forward’

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

MONTPELIER, VT. - Gov. Phil Scott announced Wednesday he is vetoing a bill that would have made marijuana legal for adults in Vermont, but offered “a path forward” for passing it later this year. He specified a handful of changes that would need to be made for him to support the measure and said he believes the legislature has time to incorporate them and enact a revised version during the summer veto session.

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Rules For Doctors Released

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Pennsylvania has issued proposed rules for doctors practicing under the state's medical marijuana program, which is expected to start up in 2018. The program will cover 17 chronic conditions, allowing cannabis to be dispensed as pills, oils, a liquid that can be vaporized, and topicals.

The rules require physicians to complete a four-hour training program on medical marijuana but they cannot advertise their ability to make recommendations. The rules are designed to dissuade doctors from becoming “stereotypical pot docs” that will issue recommendations to almost anyone for a set price, according to Becky Dansky, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Participating doctors must also sign up to the state registry, which could limit participation.

“Asking them to put their name on a list increases the odds of those doctors not participating,” she said in the report. “And when doctors don’t participate, patient access is hindered. A better option would have been to require registration of doctors who are submitting a significant number of recommendations per month.”

The Department of Health is seeking comments on the proposals.

Illinois: Lawmakers Push To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Illinois lawmakers say that legal recreational marijuana will be part of the state's future; it's a question of when, not if. That is the message sent this morning from lawmakers backing legislation to fully legalize and regulate cannabis, and the coalition of groups lining up to support the bills.

State Representative Kelly Cassidy and state Senator Heather Steans, both Democrats from Chicago, were joined by members of the Coalition for a Safer Illinois this morning at the Thompson Center in the Loop. They gave reporters details on the General Assembly’s first hearing on Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353.

They say prohibition of marijuana has not worked and it's time to get gangs and drug cartels out of the market which creates violent crime.

Cassidy cited surveys that show that 66 percent of the Illinois population support cannabis legalization.

The lawmakers believe that adults should be allowed to possess, grow and purchase up to 28 grams of marijuana, and that legalization would create millions of dollars in tax revenue.

The lawmakers were joined by representatives of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The ACLU, NORML and other legal, medical and community groups also make up part of the coalition

Oregon: State May Declare Emergency Over Sessions Cannabis Comments

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon is considering declaring an emergency due to the threat of federal law enforcement of marijuana laws in states that have made the substance legal.

Senate Bill 863 passed last week; it would prohibit marijuana retailers from recording, retaining and transferring types of information that are contained on passport, driver license, military identification card or other ID that bears a picture of a person.

Dispensaries typically collect this type of information across the nation, but SB 863 requires marijuana retailers to destroy the type of information covered within 30 days of Governor Kate Brown signing off on the bill.

Section 4 of the bill states that on passage of the bill Oregon would declare an emergency in the face of threats of federal enforcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, said the intentions of the current administration are unclear, bit it's good to be prepared.

Arizona: Maker Of Deadly Fentanyl Donates Half A Million To Defeat Pot Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Advocates of marijuana legalization have been saying for a while that pharmaceutical companies are one of the major supporters of pot prohibition. States that have legalized marijuana have seen a decrease in opioid abuse.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that fentanyl manufacturer Insys Therapeutics has donated $500,000 to foes of the Prop 205 marijuana legalization initiative.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid several dozen times more potent than heroin. It has been linked to many opioid overdose deaths across the country, especially when mixed with heroin. Marijuana has no reported overdose deaths, ever.

The only product Insys makes is Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray. In just the past month, two former company employees pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to an alleged kickback scheme to get doctors to prescribe Subsys. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against the company charging that Insys hawked the drug to doctors for off-label prescribing.

Insys' "desire for increased profits led it to disregard patients' health and push addictive opioids for non-FDA approved purposes," Madigan wrote.

Insys says on its website that it is working "to develop pharmaceutical cannabinoids."

U.S.: Big Alcohol Is Working To Undermine Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Wikileaks' recent dump of Democratic National Committee's e-mails might prove an agenda against both Bernie Sanders and marijuana legalization.

Many major news outlets shared that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and other officials received e-mails questioning Bernie Sanders' religion in an attempt to undermine his support among voters.

However, Marijuana.com's Tom Angell uncovered a daily e-newsletter that included a paid advertisement from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) warning against the dangers of marijuana.

In the May 24, 2016 edition of Huddle, a newsletter produced by the Politico website, the WSWA’s advertisement reads:

"While neutral on the issue of legalization, WSWA believes states that legalize marijuana need to ensure appropriate and effective regulations are enacted to protect the public from the dangers associated with the abuse and misuse of marijuana.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal marijuana while Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and D.C. have legalized possession and recreational use. In the years since the state legalized medicinal use, Colorado law enforcement officials have documented a significant increase in traffic fatalities in which drivers tested positive for marijuana.

Colorado: Teen Marijuana Use Dips After Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new survey released Monday showed that marijuana consumption by Colorado high school students has dipped slightly since the state first permitted recreational use by adults.

The biannual poll by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also showed the percentage of teens using marijuana in Colorado was lower than the national average among the age group.

Of the Colorado high school students surveyed in 2015, 21.2 percent had used marijuana during the preceding 30 days, down from 22 percent in 2011, the year before voters approved recreational use for adults over 21.

The rate of pot use by teens nationwide is slightly higher at 21.7 percent, the study showed.

“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization, with four of five high school students continuing to say they don't use marijuana, even occasionally,” the department said in a statement.

The department works with the University of Colorado and a citizens advisory committee to conduct the voluntary survey every two years. Approximately 17,000 students responded to the poll.

Voters in Colorado and three other states - Washington, Oregon and Alaska - have approved recreational pot sales to adults in recent years, and Colorado was the first state to open retail marijuana shops in 2014. Six other states are considering similar proposals.

U.S.: Gary Johnson Promises Not To Get High In The White House If Elected President

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson on Monday promised he won't use marijuana if he's elected president in November.

Johnson, who won the Libertarian nomination for the second time on May 29, picked former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld as his running mate, reports Guy Bentley at The Daily Caller.

The candidate freely admitted in a Monday interview with Jonathan Easley at The Hill that he'd used cannabis as "recently as a month ago," but for some reason promised he wouldn't use it if he is sworn into the Oval Office in 2017.

"The notion of getting that call at midnight or two o'clock -- people need to know there's a firm voice on the other side," he said.

Johnson said he hasn't touched alcohol for 30 years. Before launching his current presidential bid, he was CEO of the marijuana company Cannabis Sativa Inc.

He added that legalizing cannabis would lead to less substance abuse overall, because people would find it to be a "safer alternative than everything else out there, starting with alcohol."

New Hampshire: Legislature Takes One Step 'Sideways' On Marijuana Decriminalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Matt Simon, New England Political Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, released the following announcement regarding yesterday's failure to pass a bill to decriminalize marijuana in the state:

The prohibitionists in the New Hampshire Senate, led by gubernatorial candidate Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry), succeeded yesterday in preventing any meaningful progress on decriminalization in 2016. The committee of conference on SB 498 removed House changes that would have decriminalized a quarter-ounce of marijuana. As was the case in the original Senate bill, the conference committee’s report would instead reclassify the penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana from a class A misdemeanor to an unspecified misdemeanor.

Union Leader reporter Garry Rayno accurately described this as a “sideways” step for marijuana policy reform. Police and courts will continue to waste time on low-level marijuana possession cases, and people who are caught with marijuana will continue being dragged through the criminal justice system. The small change made by SB 498 may end up having a small positive effect on marijuana policy, or it may have no practical effect at all.

Arizona: Legal-marijuana Advocates Urge Foes To Return Funding From Liquor Group

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization advocates in Arizona have asked a rival campaign to return $10,000 in funding from the local alcohol industry.

Carlos Alfonso, a spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), told reporters Tuesday that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP), an organization opposing marijuana legalization, should reject a contribution from a state liquor group.

Arizonans will vote on legalizing marijuana in the election this November. As of earlier this month, the CRMLA had raised nearly $1 million from local dispensaries to help finance its efforts, the Phoenix New Times reported.

After the New Times revealed that the Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association had donated $10,000 in April to the anti-marijuana group, advocates fighting to legalize marijuana for recreational use said the ARDP should return the money.

“They’re hypocrites because they are trying to use alcohol profits to try and punish those adults that choose a less harmful substance,” Mr. Alfonso told a local CBS News affiliate.

But anti-marijuana advocates say the source of the money should not matter.

Ohio: Senate Panel Votes For Medical Marijuana Bill; May Fall Short In Full Senate

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Ohio Senate committee voted 7-5 on Wednesday morning for House Bill 523, legislation that would legalize medical marijuana for certain conditions, but the bill may not have enough support to pass in the full Senate.

About a dozen of 23 Senate Republicans and two or three or 10 Democrats said they are willing to vote for the bill, with 17 votes needed for passage, report Alan Johnson and Jim Siegel at The Columbus Dispatch.

In Wednesday's Government Oversight Committee hearing, four Republicans joined Democratic Sen. Michael Skindell in opposing the medical marijuana bill.

If the Senate does pass HB 523, the House must then go along with amendments made to the legislation; it had passed a pre-amended version. Assuming both chambers come to an agreement -- with lawmakers not due back for session until after the November election -- the bill would then go to GOP Gov. John Kasich, who said on Tuesday that he "favors the concept" of medical marijuana. As for this specific bill, "I have to look at it," the Governor said.

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."

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Efforts Differ In Who Can Grow, Who Can Use

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Ohio looks likely approve medical marijuana, and would become the 25th state to do so if either a new state law clears the Legislature, or a constitutional amendment is approved by voters this November.

State lawmakers and two citizen advocacy groups are working simultaneously to bring medicinal cannabis to Ohioans who have qualifying medical conditions, reports Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch.

Here are some key differences among House Bill 523 (which is the proposed legislation), the Marijuana Policy Project amendment, and the Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp amendment, according to the Dispatch.

Impact: HB 523, the legislation, would change only Ohio law. Both ballot proposals would amend the Ohio Constitution.

Marijuana in smokeable form: HB 523 does not specifically allow it but doesn’t rule it out. Both ballot issues would allow it.

Home-grown pot: The legislation would not allow growing marijuana at home; both ballot issues would allow it in limited quantities.

Growers: The Marijuana Policy Project amendment would allow 15 large growers and unlimited small growers. Neither the legislation nor the cannabis and hemp amendment specify grower numbers.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Initiative Campaign Team Formed

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Ballot issues vet Brandon Lynaugh — who helped lead the campaign against the Responsible Ohio initiative last year — will serve as campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Monday announced it has formed a campaign team to support its initiative to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio.

Brandon Lynaugh, a veteran of more than a dozen statewide ballot issue campaigns, will serve as campaign manager. Lynaugh most recently served as campaign manager for No On 3, which led the effort to defeat the Responsible Ohio initiative last year.

“We’re excited to have Brandon at the helm of our Ohio campaign,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “His extensive experience with ballot issues and his history of standing up for Ohioans make him the right person to lead our team. He is committed to establishing a sensible, fair, and compassionate medical marijuana program that will benefit countless seriously ill Ohio residents.”

Lynaugh’s support for establishing legal access to medical marijuana stems from his experience with a close family member who suffers from epilepsy.

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