Marijuana Policy Project

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New Hampshire: Lawmakers To Consider Removing Marijuana Possession Penalties

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Bill introduced with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana

A bill has been introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The House passed a nearly identical bill last year by a vote of 215-92, but the Senate refused to consider it.

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six marijuana plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 in New Hampshire, which is the only state left in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

"Criminalizing someone for possessing a small amount of marijuana causes far more harm than marijuana itself,” said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the bill. "A criminal record can prevent someone from accessing employment, an education, and even a home.”

Michigan: Number Of Medical Marijuana Patients Falls For 2nd Year In A Row

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The number of patients enrolled in Michigan's medical marijuana program dropped for the second year in 2014, according to state statistics.

Last year, the number of MMJ cards for patients in the program totaled 96,408, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, reports Charles E. Ramirez at The Detroit News. That number has fallen from 119,470 patients in 2011 and 118,368 in 2013.

An overwhelming 63 percent of Michigan voters approved the Medical Marihuana Act in 2008. It allows residents with debilitating medical conditions and a doctor's authorization to legally use cannabis.

Under the law, Michigan residents can apply for and obtain license to use and grow marijuana for medical purposes.

Bureaucrats with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs wouldn't speculate on why the numbers are down, and Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said it's not clear what's behind the decline. "The number of patients in Michigan has been fluctuating and it's not clear what's behind the decline," Fox said.

Fox said one big reason that probably limits participation in Michigan's program is that patients don't feel the law protects them from prosecution. Gung-ho anti-pot law enforcement agencies, led by notoriously anti-cannabis Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, have shown a disquieting eagerness to raid patients and providers.

Virginia: New Poll Shows Voters Strongly Support Marijuana Law Reform

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Approximately three out of four voters think seriously ill people should have legal access to medical marijuana; more voters support regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol than oppose it

A strong majority of state voters support reforming Virginia marijuana laws, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday.

Three out of five (60 percent) of respondents support removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and designating it a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail time. Under current Virginia law, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

The Virginia Senate is expected to consider a proposal this year that would replace criminal penalties for personal possession of marijuana with a civil fine of $100.

“Most voters do not support laws that saddle people with criminal penalties just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “These antiquated prohibition laws are causing far more problems than they solve.”

Maine: Race To Legalize Marijuana Heating Up With Competing Initiatives

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With two citizen referendums competing for the ballot -- either of which would legalize recreational marijuana in Maine -- Democratic state Rep. Diane Russell is introducing a bill in the Legislature which would accomplish the same goal through regulation and taxation.

Rep. Russell said that cannabis legalization is inevitable in Maine, with three marijuana-related bills alreadyu under consideration by lawmakers, reports Jonah Bennett at the Daily Caller.

Russell's bill would reinstate liquor inspectors and put them in charge of marijuana, as well. Marijuana would be regulated similarly to alcohol under her plan.

"It would dedicate tax revenue, significant tax revenue, to school construction so that we can make sure we're building new schools and remodeling old schools so our children have an opportunity to have a solid education," Russell told CBS 13.

There is growing uncertainty in Maine around exactly how cannabis legalization will look in the state, with competing initiatives from the Marijuana Policy Project and Legalize Maine vying for the ballot in 2016.

U.S.: Teen Marijuana Use Down After Legalization, National Survey Finds

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A national survey released on Tuesday found teen marijuana usage rates decreased from 2013 to 2014 — a period marked by heightened national debate regarding marijuana policy and implementation of the nation’s first marijuana legalization laws.

According to the annual Monitoring the Future Survey, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), rates of annual, monthly, and daily marijuana use dropped among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders. More details are available in the researchers’ press release at http://www.monitoringthefuture.org//pressreleases/14drugpr_complete.pdf.

Teens’ perception of ‘great risk’ in marijuana use also decreased among students in all three grades, contradicting the often-heard claim that public dialogue about the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition — including discussion of the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and other substances — will result in more teens using marijuana.

In August, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among the state’s high school students has dropped since marijuana became legal for adults. More information is available at http://mppne.ws/1BSbM17.

“The survey’s findings and recent polls demonstrate that Americans of all ages are wising up when it comes to marijuana," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Support for ending marijuana prohibition is growing among adults, and marijuana use is dropping among teens.

Texas: Lawmaker Introducing Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Texas state Rep. Joe Moody introduced a bill Monday morning that would reduce penalties for marijuana possession in Texas. The bill would remove the threat of arrest, jail time and a criminal record for possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, reducing the penalty to a $100 civil fine.

Rep. Moody announced the details of the bill at a news conference hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy at 11:30 a.m. CT at the Texas State Capitol.

Rep. Moody was joined by retired Texas District Court Judge John Delaney, Matt Simpson of the ACLU of Texas, Ann Lee of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, Heather Fazio of the Marijuana Policy Project, and other representatives of the coalition, including the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.

“Our current marijuana policy in Texas just isn’t working,” Rep. Moody said. “We need a new approach that allows us to more effectively utilize our limited criminal justice resources. This legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction.”

"The War on Marijuana is a failure and has needlessly ensnared hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system, at tremendous human and financial cost,” said strategist Matthew Simpson of the ACLU of Texas, reports Mark Reagan at the San Antonio Current.

North America: Shoe's On The Other Foot - US Weed Now Being Smuggled Into Mexico

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An an interesting case of role reversal, marijuana grown in the United States is increasingly being smuggled into Mexico, according to the DEA.

At one time, Mexico supplied the vast majority of cannabis found in the U.S., but that has changed due to more weed being cultivated north of the border. The high quality of American weed is catching the attention of Mexico drug cartels, reports RT.com.

American marijuana, typically with potency between 10 and 25 percent THC, is, on the average, noticeably stronger than Mexican weed, which averages 3 to 8 percent. American weed, meanwhile, typically sells for three to four times as much as Mexican product.

"I believe that now, because of the changes they're having to make because of marijuana legalization in the U.S., the cartel is pushing more cocaine, meth and heroin. They're diversifying," journalist Javier Valdez told NPR.

"It makes sense," said Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Lawrence Payne, reports National Public Radio. "We know the cartels are already smuggling cash into Mexico. If you can buy some really high-quality weed here, why not smuggle it south, too, and sell it at a premium?"

Maryland: Marijuana Policy Project To Honor Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman

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Award for dedication to advancing sensible marijuana policy reform to be presented by former Republican Maryland State Delegate Don Murphy

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) will honor Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman on Friday at the Maryland GOP Fall Convention Eve Party for his dedication to advancing sensible marijuana policy reform. Former Maryland State Delegate Don Murphy, now a federal policies analyst at MPP, will present the award to the former state senate minority leader.

During his time in the Maryland State Senate, Kittleman co-sponsored a successful medical marijuana bill and served as the lead sponsor of recently implemented legislation that reduces the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil offense.

MPP will also be honoring other members of the Maryland GOP who supported the passage of these bills.

“We are pleased to present this award to Executive Kittleman and the other Republican lawmakers who helped bring about these much-needed reforms,” Murphy said. “Ending our failed marijuana prohibition policies makes sense regardless of what side of the political spectrum you’re on.

"It is refreshing to see that the GOP in Maryland and across the country is beginning to show leadership on this important issue,” Murphy said.

WHAT: Award presentation to Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman during Maryland GOP Fall Convention Eve Party for his dedication to advancing sensible marijuana policy reform

WHEN: Friday, December 5, 8 p.m. ET

U.S.: Show Examines Effects of Filmmakers, Activists, and Entrepreneurs on Marijuana Reform

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The National Marijuana News Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of DigiPath, Inc., has just released its sixth cannabis news show. Hosted by Todd Denkin and Jen Gentile, the program explores the ways filmmakers, activists, and entrepreneurs shape marijuana public opinion and policy.

Guests include Israeli film producer Lati Grobman, Marijuana Policy Project co-founder Rob Kampia; Seattle Hempfest founder Vivian McPeak; and "pot-trepreneur" Guy Marsala, chairman, CEO, and president of Medbox, Inc.

The show is now available at www.tnmnews.com and at www.Live365.com.

Lati Grobman
Russian-born film producer Lati Grobman kicks off the lineup. She describes her transformation from being an opponent of cannabis legalization to becoming an advocate while producing her documentary Legalize It, which chronicles Proposition 19 and the 2010 campaign to legalize marijuana in California.

"It's a social problem," says Grobman, a mother of five children whose film producer credits include The Iceman and Righteous Kill. "I saw the injustice that is happening. There are people in jail for smoking pot who should not be in jail."

Grobman suggests that resistance to legalizing marijuana partly stems from economic benefits that come with a high rate of incarceration.

Rob Kampia

U.S.: New Billboards Urge Parents To Keep Marijuana Out of Reach of Children

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Latest ‘Consume Responsibly’ ads feature a young child looking at a glass of wine and cookies, and it reads: ‘Some juices and cookies are not for kids: Keep “adult snacks” locked up and out of reach’

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is launching billboards this week in Denver and Seattle that encourage parents to keep marijuana out of reach of children. The ads are part of a broader public education campaign urging adults to “consume responsibly” in states where marijuana is legal.

The billboards feature a child looking at what could be a glass of grape juice or a stemless glass of wine and a few cookies that might or might not be infused with marijuana. It reads, “Some juices and cookies are not meant for kids,” and urges them to, “Keep ‘adult snacks’ locked up and out of reach.”

MPP spokesperson Mason Tvert was accompanied at the Monday unveiling of the billboard by Jane West, a marijuana consumer and mother of two small children, who serves as director of Women Grow, a national organization dedicated to helping women influence and succeed in the cannabis industry.

“We need to treat marijuana like any other product that is legal for adults and not meant for children,” West said. “A marijuana-infused cookie might look like a regular cookie to my four-year-old, just as a glass of wine might look just like grape juice. Whether it’s marijuana, alcohol, or household cleaning products, it’s our job as parents to keep them locked up and out of reach.”

Maine: Two Marijuana Legalization Measures Could Be On 2016 Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maine voters could be looking at not one but two marijuana legalization measures on the 2016 ballot, if two competing groups are both successful at qualifying for the ballot.

Legalize Maine, based in the northeastern part of the state, on Wednesday announced a plan to have its own measure on the ballot, joining the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which has already announced its referendum, reports Sarah Delage atr WCSH.

Paul McCarrier of Legalize Maine said the group is focused on jobs. According to McCarrier, marijuana legalization would bring economic development to rural areas.

McCarrier said his group is moving forward with its own legalization plan after talking with people in other states who have worked with the Marijuana Policy Project.

"We are not interested in being subjugated to MPP or the Washington D.C. policy," McCarrier said. "These will be competing measures and we will win."

MPP, based in the District of Columbia, plans to put a similar question on the 2016 ballot. The group put the question to voters in Portland and South Portland, where it was approved, and in Lewiston, where voters rejected it.

"Ideally it makes sense to have one initiative," said David Boyer of MPP. "But if we can't see eye to eye then we will move forward and we hope voters choose the plan that will make marijuana legal and stop punishing adults for using a substance safer than alcohol."

U.S.: FBI Reports 693,000 Arrests For Marijuana Offenses In 2013

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More than 87% were for simple possession

An estimated 693,481 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana in 2013, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report. More than 87 percent of these arrests were for possession, which means one person was arrested for marijuana possession approximately every 51 seconds on average in the United States.

The same report last year showed that 749,842 marijuana arrests were made in 2012.

“We're pleased to see the drop, but arresting even one adult for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol is inexcusable," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Every year we see millions of violent crimes attributed to alcohol, and the evidence is clear that marijuana is not a significant contributing factor in such incidents. Yet our laws continue to steer adults toward drinking by threatening to punish them if they make the safer choice. These arrest numbers demonstrate that the threat is very real.

"Law enforcement officials should be spending their time and resources addressing serious crimes, not arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana," Tvert said. "Every year, these statistics show hundreds of thousands of marijuana-related arrests are taking place and countless violent crimes are going unsolved. We have to wonder how many of those crimes could be solved — or prevented — if police weren't wasting their time enforcing failed marijuana prohibition laws.

Maine: South Portland Becomes 2nd East Coast City To Legalize Marijuana

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Similar Measure Receives 45% Support in Lewiston

Stage is set for 2016 statewide initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol

Voters in South Portland, Maine on Tuesday approved a ballot measure by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin, making it the second city on the East Coast to make marijuana legal for adults. A similar measure received 45 percent of the vote in Lewiston.

The South Portland initiative makes possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. It will remain illegal for adults to consume or display marijuana in public.

Voters in Portland, Maine's largest city, approved a similar measure last year.

Tuesday's measure expresses support for ending marijuana prohibition at the state level and replacing it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. The Marijuana Policy Project, which backed all three local initiatives in Maine, has filed a committee to support a statewide ballot initiative in 2016.

“We applaud the voters of South Portland for approving a more sensible approach to marijuana," said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which supported the Lewiston and South Portland initiatives. "They saw through the scare tactics and misinformation that have long kept marijuana illegal in this country. They chose facts over fear."

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Backers To Celebrate Election Night In South Portland

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Voters in Lewiston and South Portland are considering ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older

Backers of the initiatives to make marijuana legal for adults in Lewiston and South Portland, Maine, will celebrate Election Night at Thatcher’s Restaurant in South Portland (35 Foden Road). The event will begin after the polls close at 8 p.m. ET. Free Wi-Fi access and parking will be available.

The ballot measures — Question 2 in Lewiston and the “Citizen-Initiated Ordinance Referendum Question” regarding marijuana in South Portland — would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would remain illegal to use or display marijuana in public.

Portland voters approved a similar measure 67-33 in November 2013.

The Lewiston and South Portland initiatives also express support for ending marijuana prohibition in Maine and replacing it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

The organization backing the measures, the Marijuana Policy Project, has filed a committee to support such a statewide initiative in 2016.

WHAT: Election Night watch party for the campaign in support of the Lewiston and South Portland ballot measures to make marijuana legal for adults

WHEN: Tuesday, November 4, after the polls close at 8 p.m.

WHERE: Thatcher’s Restaurant, 35 Foden Rd., South Portland

WHO: David Boyer, Maine Political Director, Marijuana Policy Project

U.S.: States, Cities and Nation's Capital To Vote On Marijuana Policy Ballot Measures Tuesday

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Alaska and Oregon could make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it like alcohol; Washington, D.C. and two of Maine’s largest cities could make marijuana legal for adults; Florida could become 24th state to allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana

States, cities, and the nation’s capital will vote on marijuana policy ballot measures on Tuesday.

“From Alaska to Maine, there is a whole lot of enthusiasm for ending marijuana prohibition,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It’s not easy to overcome 80 years of prohibition and anti-marijuana propaganda. But public attitudes are clearly shifting on this issue, and it’s only a matter of time before that is reflected in laws nationwide.”

In Alaska and Oregon, voters are considering statewide ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. The initiatives — Ballot Measure 2 in Alaska and Measure 91 in Oregon — would remove all legal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older.

The measures would also establish a regulatory framework for licensed businesses to cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana to adults. If the initiatives are approved, Alaska and Oregon would be the third and fourth states to end marijuana prohibition.

D.C.: Council To Hold Joint Hearing On Bill To Make Marijuana Legal and Regulate It Like Alcohol

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Council committees will hear testimony on provisions regarding licensing and regulations for cultivation facilities and adult retail marijuana stores, as well as a dedicated fund for marijuana business taxes and fees

The Washington, D.C. Council will hold a joint committee hearing Thursday on a bill that would make possession of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

The Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance and Revenue will hear testimony regarding sections 6, 7, 8, and 9 of B20-466, the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013, which was introduced last year by Councilman David Grosso.

Those sections would amend District code to establish the regulatory infrastructure for the production and sale of marijuana and marijuana products in D.C. They would also create a dedicated fund, which would consist of excise taxes, license fees, and all other revenues received by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration from marijuana-related activities.

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Backers Unveil Halloween-Themed Mobile Billboard

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Mobile Billboard Highlights the Relative Safety of Marijuana Compared to Alcohol

Billboard satirizing ‘Reefer Madness’-style propaganda calls Question 2 ‘[a] safer marijuana policy for Lewiston’ because it would allow adults to use a substance that is ‘Less toxic! Less addictive! Less scary than ALCOHOL!’

Backers of the initiative to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older in Lewiston unveiled a Halloween-themed mobile billboard Tuesday that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

The orange and black billboard, which will run through Halloween, satirizes “Reefer Madness”-style propaganda and calls Question 2 “[a] safer marijuana policy for Lewiston” because it would allow adults to make the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol, if that is what they prefer. It features a screaming face and reads, “MARIJUANA: LESS toxic! LESS addictive! LESS scary than ALCOHOL!”

Facts regarding the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol are available at http://www.MarijuanaIsSafer.org .

Question 2 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would remain illegal to use marijuana in public.

The measure also expresses support for ending marijuana prohibition in Maine and regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.

Maine: Backers of Lewiston Marijuana Initiative To Launch Mobile Billboard

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Halloween-themed Mobile Billboard Highlights the Relative Safety of Marijuana Compared to Alcohol

Billboard satirizing ‘Reefer Madness’-style propaganda comes as opponents ramp up efforts to scare voters into keeping marijuana illegal for adults; ad calls Question 2 ‘[a] safer marijuana policy’ because it would allow adults to use a substance that is, ‘Less toxic! Less addictive! ‘Less scary than ALCOHOL!’

Backers of the initiative to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older in Lewiston, Maine, will launch a Halloween-themed mobile billboard on Tuesday that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) will hold a news conference in front of the billboard at 10 a.m. ET in Heritage Park. The ad will run through Halloween.

The orange and black billboard, which satirizes “Reefer Madness”-style propaganda, comes as opponents of Question 2 are ramping up efforts to scare voters into keeping marijuana illegal for adults. It features a screaming face and reads, “MARIJUANA: LESS toxic! LESS addictive! LESS scary than ALCOHOL!”

It calls Question 2 “[a] safer marijuana policy for Lewiston” because it would allow adults to make the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol, if that is what they prefer. Facts regarding the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol are available at http://www.MarijuanaIsSafer.org .

Question 2 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would remain illegal to use marijuana in public.

Minnesota: Marijuana Policy Project Makes Maximum Contribution To GOP Gubernatorial Candidate

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MPP backing Republican gubernatorial candidate in light of his support for a more compassionate and comprehensive medical marijuana program

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) PAC has contributed $4,000 to the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson. The contribution to the Johnson for Governor Campaign is the maximum allowed under Minnesota law.

Johnson is challenging Gov. Mark Dayton in the Minnesota gubernatorial election following a legislative session in which the governor refused to support a compassionate and comprehensive medical marijuana program championed by patients and approved by the Minnesota Senate. The contribution was made in light of Johnson’s support for the more inclusive legislation. A matching contribution was made to the Senate DFL PAC as well.

The medical marijuana proposal supported by Johnson and a bipartisan Senate coalition would have protected an estimated 30,000 seriously ill Minnesotans, according to a fiscal analysis prepared by the state. Gov. Dayton refused to sign such a bill and insisted on a restrictive program that will only help an estimated 5,000 patients.

The governor’s resistance also resulted in the law prohibiting the use of marijuana in its natural form, requiring patients to use oils or extracts that will be produced by just two manufacturers for the entire state. Some patients have said they will not sign up for the program because whole plant cannabis is the most effective form of treatment for their conditions.

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Advocate Challenges Police Chief To Pot vs. Booze Drug Duel

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Local advocate willing to go ‘hit for shot’ with Chief Edward Googins — who said, ‘Claims that marijuana is safer than alcohol are so bogus it’s not even funny’ — to prove once and for all that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol

David Boyer will be waiting for Googins at high noon in the Mill Creek Park gazebo — with enough alcohol to kill a man — to determine who will be the last one standing for a 7 p.m. debate

In order to prove once and for all that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, marijuana initiative proponent David Boyer is challenging South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins to a drug duel. Boyer will be in the Mill Creek Park gazebo at high noon on Wednesday prepared to take a hit of marijuana for every shot of alcohol consumed by Googins to see who will be the last man standing for a previously scheduled debate for 7 p.m. that evening.

In an October 14 news story Chief Googins said, “Claims that marijuana is safer than alcohol are so bogus it’s not even funny.” He also said marijuana is too dangerous to make legal for adults because it “continues to create and perpetuate other problems.”

Chief Googins made a similar comment during a press conference at the Mill Creek Park gazebo earlier this year. He is actively campaigning against a citizen-initiated referendum on the November ballot that would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older under city law.

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