Marijuana Policy Project

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Illinois: Medical Marijuana Could Be Available To Patients In Early 2015


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Patients in Illinois who qualify under the state's Medical Cannabis Pilot Program could be able to start legally using marijuana early next year, according to program coordinator Bob Morgan, who is a lawyer for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

"Right now, we think it's a good time for patients to be having that conversation with their physicians and their caregivers if they have any interest in participating in the program," Morgan said.

The powerful Joint Committee on Administrative Rules plan to meet in Chicago on Tuesday to discuss the rules to implement the state's medical marijuana program, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

If the committee agrees on the rules, the process to register patients, dispensers and growers can begin.

Patients who are approved by the state as having debilitating medical conditions qualifying for medical marijuana will be able to get identification cards beginning in September, according to Morgan, but the application process will be staggered.

Applications for those who want to sell or grow marijuana will be out around the same time, Morgan said.

Maine: Citizens Submit Petition Supporting Marijuana Legalization Ordinance In South Portland


Citizens for a Safer Maine on Monday submitted its petition in support of an initiative to make marijuana possession legal for adults within South Portland city limits. The group submitted more than 1,500 signatures, with just 959 valid signatures of registered city voters needed to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

The city clerk has 20 days to certify the petition.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows joined Citizens for a Safer Maine at a news conference inside South Portland City Hall prior to submitting the signatures to the City Clerk’s Office.

“Our goal is to get people talking about marijuana and the benefits of ending prohibition,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

“Marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol for the consumer and for society," Boyer said. "It should be treated it that way, and that entails no longer punishing adults who choose to use it responsibly.”


Pennsylvania: Senate Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill


Senate Law and Justice Committee votes in favor of bill that would allow seriously ill Pennsylvanians to use marijuana to treat their medical conditions

The Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice Committee on Friday voted unanimously to approve a bill that would make it legal for seriously ill patients to use marijuana to treat their conditions with recommendations from their doctors. This is the first time medical marijuana legislation has been considered in Pennsylvania.

The bill is expected to go to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a vote next, before going to the full Senate.

SB 1182, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), would allow qualified patients to obtain medical marijuana from a limited number of licensed, regulated dispensaries throughout the state. Smoking would not be permitted, but patients could consume marijuana in edible form or through vaporization of the plant or its extracts.

(This trend towards "non-smoking" medical marijuana bills, by the way, is absurd, and also goes against accepted medical practice of letting physicians and their patients decide upon the most appropriate and effective routes of administration.)

Home cultivation would also not be allowed under the bill. Patients under the age of 18 would be required to have parental consent in order to take part in the program.

A companion bill, HB 2182, was introduced in the House with 46 co-sponsors, but has not yet received a hearing.

U.S.: House Committee Votes To Block Marijuana Decriminalization In Washington DC


Advocates prepare for vote to remove Republican amendment on House floor

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed a Republican-sponsored amendment to the 2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill intended to prevent the District of Columbia from implementing its recently passed law decriminalizing the possession of marijuana. It also has the potential to end the District’s medical marijuana program.

The amendment, offered by GOP Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), passed by a vote of 28-21. It prohibits D.C. from spending federal funds or even its locally raised funds to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana.

The District of Columbia City Council passed a law in March replacing its criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana with a nominal $25 fine. It is scheduled to take effect July 17.

The law was largely a response to an ACLU report showing blacks in the District of Columbia are roughly eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites, despite similar use rates. In 2010, 91 percent of all marijuana arrests in D.C. were of African Americans.

The District’s medical marijuana law is the product of a 1998 initiative. It was not implemented until 2010 due to a provision in federal law, similar to the amendment offered by Rep. Harris, which was not repealed until 2009.

U.S.: Christie Says He Wouldn't Treat Marijuana States Well As President


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Friday that states which have legalized marijuana "probably" wouldn't be treated well if he is elected President.

The governor was campaigning with New Hampshire GOP gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein when he was asked by Brinck Slattery, a Republican running for state representative: "I know that you have some ambitions for D.C., perhaps. If you were President, how would you treat states that have legalized marijuana?"

"Probably not well," Christie responded, walking away from the conversation, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. "Not well, but we'll see. We'll have to see what happens." Christie's statement was captured in a video shot by Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

"It's one thing for Governor Christie to say he doesn't like what's happening in Colorado; quite another thing for him to threaten federal interference if he became President," Slattery said.

"Widely and generally speaking, that reflects his philosophy on marijuana, legalization and restrictions for medically based programs," said Michael Drewniak, Christie's press secretary, of the governor's comment.

Twenty-three states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, with New York being the latest; Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational use as well. Alaska votes on legalization in August.

U.S.: Senator John Walsh Offers Protections for Medical Marijuana Patient Gun Rights


Amendment to Senate Appropriations Bill would deny funds to the ATF for enforcing ban on gun rights for medical marijuana patients

Sen. John Walsh (D-Montana) has offered an amendment to Senate appropriations bill S. 2347, which would prevent the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from targeting state-legal medical marijuana patients for possessing firearms.

“Montanans take their Second Amendment rights very seriously and hunting is an important part of our heritage and culture,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Whether firearms are used for sport or to help sustain a family by putting food on the table, the federal government should not prevent Montanans from owning firearms simply because a hunter benefits from access to medical marijuana."

In 2011, the ATF issued a letter entitled “Open Letter to All Federal Firearms Licensees” which told licensees that according to Title 18, Section 922 of the United States Code, licensees are not allowed under to sell ammunition or firearms to individuals who use marijuana, even if the person uses it in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

“We are pleased Sen. Walsh is sending a strong message to the federal government on behalf of Montanans: Stay away from the gun rights of our law-abiding citizens,” said Lindsey. “Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and many prescription drugs, yet the federal government seems to have a persistent case of reefer madness.

Maine: Citizens for a Safer Maine Submit Petition Supporting Marijuana Legalization Ordinance In York


Group submits more than 200 total signatures; 100 signatures of registered town voters are needed for the measure to be considered for the ballot

Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted more than 200 signatures to the York town clerk on Thursday in support of an ordinance making marijuana possession legal for adults. One hundred signatures of registered York voters are needed for the measure to be considered for the ballot.

The York Board of Selectmen can now hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance and place it on the ballot. If it does not act on the petition, supporters will have 30 days to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the local votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in order to trigger a general referendum.

“Adults should not be punished for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and our laws should reflect that,” said Sherry DaBiere, a York resident and realtor who submitted the petition. “Law enforcement has more serious crimes to deal with.”

“Marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol, and arresting adults for possessing it is a waste of time and resources,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “If voters approve these measures, law enforcement officials can use their discretion to stop punishing otherwise law-abiding citizens and saddling them with criminal records that can hurt them for the rest of their lives.”

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Delaware: Lawmakers To Hold Hearing On Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana


Advocates will urge the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee to support a measure that would replace possible jail time with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket; the hearing is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET in the House Minority Caucus Room

The Delaware House of Representatives Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on a proposal to remove criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession.

The committee will consider an amended version of HB 371, sponsored by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington), which would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil offense, punishable by a fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,150 and up to six months in jail.

“Nobody should be saddled with a criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who will be at the hearing to testify in support of the bill. “A marijuana conviction can haunt individuals for the rest of their lives, depriving them of educational opportunities, employment, and public housing.

"Law enforcement officials’ time would be better spent addressing serious crimes instead of arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana possession,” Yeung said.

U.S.: 30 Members of Congress Call On Secretary of Health To Remove Roadblock To Marijuana Research


Bipartisan letter urges HHS Secretary Burwell to eliminate ‘unnecessary additional review process’ that often prevents scientists from obtaining marijuana for medical research

In a letter sent on Tuesday, a bipartisan group of 30 members of Congress called on Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to make the process for obtaining marijuana for medical research less burdensome.

"There is overwhelming anecdotal evidence from patients, their family members, and their doctors of the therapeutic benefits of marijuana for those suffering from cancer, epilepsy, seizures, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, glaucoma, anxiety, chronic pain, and more," the letter reads in part.

"We believe the widespread use of medical marijuana should necessitate research into what specific relief it offers and how it can best be delivered for different people and different conditions," the letter reads. "Yet, the scientific research clearly documenting these benefits has often been hampered by federal barriers."

"In light of the fact that substances like opioids and barbiturates have been researched and developed for human use, it would seem that we should investigate the legitimate medical uses of marijuana," reads the letter. "We request that you review and revise the HHS Guidance to eliminate what we believe to be an unnecessary additional review process."

U.S.: Federal Survey Dispels Myth That Rolling Back Prohibition Increases Teen Marijuana Use


Biennial CDC survey finds rate of current marijuana use among U.S. high school students remained flat despite state marijuana policy reforms and significant increase in public support for making marijuana legal

Continued decline in teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes suggests regulating marijuana could be more effective at preventing teen use than current prohibition policies

A biennial federal government survey released on Thursday dispels the myth that rolling back marijuana prohibition laws will lead to an increase in teen marijuana use.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found the rate of current marijuana use among U.S. high school students remained flat from 2011 to 2013. During that period of time, voters in Colorado and Washington adopted and implemented laws making marijuana legal for adults; state legislatures in Rhode Island and Vermont approved and implemented laws decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana; and national polls showed significant increases in public support for ending marijuana prohibition.

“This debunks the theory that openly discussing the benefits of legalizing marijuana for adults will result in more teen use,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The public dialogue surrounding marijuana is more balanced and honest than ever before. We should be encouraging teens to take part in it, not shielding them from it.”

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Activists Gathering Signatures In 3 Towns


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."

Maine: Local Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Launch In Three Towns


The group Citizens for a Safer Maine on Monday will launch campaigns in support of local ballot initiatives that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults in Lewiston, South Portland, and York.

Supporters of the Lewiston measure, including former Maine state Rep. Stavros Mendros (R-Lewiston) and Lewiston Republican Committee Vice Chair Luke Jensen, will hold a news conference at noon in Kennedy Park, at the corner of Park Street and Pine Street, across from Lewiston City Hall, to discuss the initiatives and the initiative processes.

"Adults should not be punished simply for using a substance that is less harmful than alcohol," said David Boyer, Maine political director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "If voters approve these measures, law enforcement officials can use their discretion to stop arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana possession."

Mendros and Jensen are two of 10 Lewiston residents who initiated the petition, along with Lewiston City Council Member Leslie Dubois and Lewiston School Board Member Matt Roy.

"Marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol," Roy said. "It's time to rely on facts and not conjecture."

WHAT: Launch of campaigns in support of ballot initiatives that would make marijuana possession legal for adults in Lewiston, South Portland, and York

Tennessee: Governor Signs CBD-Only 'Study' Bill Into Law


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a very limited, CBD-only, medical marijuana "study" bill into law last Friday. Sadly, the bill may not ever result in relief for any patients at all.

Senate Bill 2531 creates a four-year study on the medicinal benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, reports the Marijuana Policy Project. The bill specifies that Vanderbilt University will conduct the study, and Tennessee Tech will theoretically grow the cannabis.

As has been the case with similarly weak "CBD-only" legislation passed in other conservative states recently, the many limitations of the bill mean it won't result in relief for patients; Tennessee hasn't become a "medical marijuana state" by any stretch of the imagination.

The law foolishly depends on the cooperation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in authorizing the cultivation of marijuana in Tennessee for the study; it's as if those who wrote the bill haven't bothered to inform themselves of the fact that the DEA has never authorized anyone except The University of Mississippi to grow cannabis for the past 50 years.

CBD-only laws leave most potential medical marijuana patients to suffer. CBD has been found effective in quelling seizures, but those treating seizure disorders with medical marijuana are only a small percentage of total patients who could benefit from cannabis.

U.S.: Congress Votes to End War on Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers


49 Republicans and 170 Democrats approve historic amendment intended to prevent the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from raiding state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After years of effort and six previous tries, an unprecedented victory has finally happened. Congress on Thursday night approved a measure (219-189) that will prevent the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The legislation marks the first time in history that Congress has voted in favor of ending the federal government’s war on medical marijuana patients and providers. A record-high 49 Republicans joined 170 Democrats in voting for the measure.

The vote on Amendment 25 to H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), stops the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from spending funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws. The amendment has been offered seven times since 2003. It received a then-record high 165 votes in 2007, which included 15 Republicans.

New York: TV Ads Urge Governor and Senate Majority Leader to Support Medical Marijuana


The Marijuana Policy Project on Thursday launched two hard-hitting television ads that urge New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Senate Majority Co-Leader Dean Skelos to support the Compassionate Care Act, a bill that would allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

The New York State Assembly approved the Compassionate Care Act Tuesday (91-34) for the fifth time since 2007. Gov. Cuomo has not expressed support for the measure, and in previous years, Senate leaders have not allowed it to receive a vote on the Senate floor.

One of the television ads features Dr. Richard Carlton, a Port Washington psychiatrist whose wife, Joan, is suffering from late stage Parkinson’s disease. In an emotional plea to Gov. Cuomo, he says, “Knowing there’s a medication that could help my wife, but that medication is illegal here in New York, is agonizing; it’s causing me a tremendous amount of grief.”

He then says, “Gov. Cuomo, patients have waited long enough for relief. Please support the Compassionate Care Act.”

The ad will air for approximately two weeks on News 12, CNN, Lifetime, and the Oprah Winfrey Network on Long Island, on News 12 in Westchester, and on a variety of programs in Albany, including the Today Show and Ellen. Watch the ad online at

New Hampshire: Medical Marijuana Patients, Advocates To Comment On Proposed Patient Registry Rules


Advocates will urge regulators to more swiftly implement program that will provide seriously ill patients with legal access to medical marijuana; hearing will take place at the Department of Health and Human Services Brown Building Auditorium at 9:30 a.m. ET Thursday

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is scheduled to hold a public hearing Thursday on its proposed rules for the patient registry portion of the state’s medical marijuana program. Patients and advocates will comment on the draft rules (available here) and the impact of a memo from the attorney general’s office (available here) that has delayed implementation of the program.

The Marijuana Policy Project is urging regulators to begin issuing ID cards to patients as quickly as possible.

“It is critical that the state begin issuing ID cards to patients as soon as the rules for the patient registry have been finalized,” said Matt Simon, a Goffstown-based New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “There is no reason to delay the program, and many patients can’t afford to wait any longer for relief.

"Our state should not continue to criminalize seriously ill people who are using medical marijuana under their doctors’ supervision,” Simon said.

U.S.: Congress To Vote On Measure To Protect State-Legal Medical Marijuana


Vote on Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s amendment to Justice Department funding bill is expected TONIGHT or Thursday

Congress is expected to vote on a measure Wednesday night or Thursday that is intended to protect medical marijuana patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The amendment to H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), would prohibit the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from spending funds to arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers.

It will be the seventh time the amendment has been offered since 2003.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has been lobbying in support of the measure since its initial introduction.

Photo: Weedist

California: Marijuana Policy Project Endorses GOP Congressional Candidate


Marijuana policy organization makes maximum financial contribution to challenger of former congressman that called medical marijuana a ‘sham’

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) PAC on Wednesday endorsed Republican congressional candidate Igor Birman and contributed $5,000 to his campaign, the maximum allowed under federal law. Birman is challenging former Congressman Doug Ose in a hotly contested Republican primary race in California’s 7th Congressional District, which consists of eastern Sacramento County.

MPP PAC attributed the endorsement to Birman’s strong support for ending marijuana prohibition and his ability to work with members of all parties to enact much-needed changes to federal law. The endorsement was also motivated by the radical anti-marijuana views of former Congressman Ose, who once said during a radio interview that medical marijuana is “a sham that was foisted on the people of [California].”

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones endorsed Ose last month, citing the former Congressman’s opposition to regulating and taxing marijuana — an idea supported by 55 percent of California voters, according to a Field Poll released in December.

“Igor is among the growing number of Republicans with common sense views on marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Like William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, and other thinking conservatives, he recognizes the wasteful and counterproductive nature of marijuana prohibition.

Vermont: New Poll Shows Strong Majority Support For Marijuana Legalization


Castleton Polling Institute survey finds 57% support — and only 34% oppose — such a proposal, which will be the subject of a study approved by the Vermont Legislature in April

A strong majority of Vermonters support making marijuana legal for adults, taxing it, and regulating it similarly to alcohol, according to a Castleton Polling Institute survey released on Wednesday.

Such a change in state law would be supported by 57 percent of respondents. Only 34 percent said they are opposed.

“People are fed up with marijuana prohibition,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than alcohol, and this poll shows most Vermonters want it to be treated that way.”

The Vermont Legislature in April approved a bill that includes an amendment initiating a study to evaluate the potential impact of making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol. Gov. Shumlin is expected to sign it into law.

“Just about anyone who reviews the evidence objectively will arrive at the conclusion that prohibition has failed, and it’s time for a more sensible approach,” Simon said. “Regulating marijuana like alcohol would replace the underground market with licensed, tax-paying businesses.

"There is a reason why we don't see copious amounts of alcohol being illegally produced and trafficked around Vermont — because it's regulated,” Simon said.

Vermont To Study Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin's administration is getting ready to study the fiscal and other impacts of marijuana legalization; the task was assigned by the Vermont Legislature.

Gov. Shumlin said he agreed with lawmakers that "it's timely to do a study," said Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding, reports Dave Gram at the Burlington Free Press,/i>. Spaulding's agency is tasked to report its findings to the Legislature by January 15, 2015.

"We're not going to prejudge what our position would be at the end of it," Spaulding said.

An amendment to a bill whose main purpose was removing a cap on the number of patients who can get medical marijuana in Vermont is responsible for the study. It called for a study of "possible taxing systems" for marijuana, any savings or costs connected with legalizing, regulating and taxing it, the experiences of Colorado and Washington in legalizing cannabis.

Spaulding admitted the Shumlin Administration hadn't yet figured out how to do the study, but then it's been less than a week since the Legislature adjourned. "I know that we're going to take it seriously and we'll probably do a pretty thorough study," he said.

Gov. Shumlin has repeatedly said he wants to see what happens in Washington and Colorado before moving ahead with legalization for Vermont. Spaulding cautioned that the January 2015 deadline for the report may be too soon to answer than question.

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