MPP

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

Mi Cannabis Cup, Leafly

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.

Rhode Island: Legislative Allies Propose Incremental Cannabis Legalization

Rhode Island Cannabis

Sen. Joshua Miller and Rep. Scott Slater announce a proposal to legalize possession of small amounts of cannabis on July 1, 2018, and establish an advisory board to provide recommendations to the General Assembly on regulating sales and cultivation

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The compromise legislation would legalize possession of an ounce or less for adults 21 and older on July 1, 2018 and establish a six-person advisory board comprised of two state officials selected by the governor, two state senators, and two state representatives to study outcomes of legalization in other states.

California Democratic Party Endorses Adult Use of Marijuana Act

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November ballot measure becomes the first marijuana legalization initiative in state history to receive the official endorsement of a major political party

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The campaign in support of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which will appear on the November 2016 statewide ballot in California, on Monday announced that it has received the official endorsement of the California Democratic Party (CDP).

The largest statewide Democratic Party organization in the nation, the CDP joins the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the largest local Democratic Party organization in the nation, and the San Francisco Democratic Party in endorsing AUMA.

While the CDP has long had as part of its official platform putting an end to the failed and costly policy of marijuana prohibition in California, this is the first time in state history that a major political party has officially endorsed a specific cannabis legalization ballot measure.

“This landmark action by the California Democratic Party underscores the responsible and consensus approach of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act and strengthens what is already the largest, most enthusiastic and most diverse coalition ever assembled in support of a marijuana legalization effort,” said Brian Brokaw, AUMA campaign manager.

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."

U.S.: Veterans Increasingly Turning To Marijuana For PTSD Relief

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More and more states and considering allowing military veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to use medical marijuana for relief. But many veterans aren't waiting for permission.

Military veterans are increasingly using medicinal cannabis, although it remains illegal in most states and is frowned upon by the Department of Veterans Affairs, reports the Associated Press.

Marijuana does a lot better managing anxiety, insomnia and nightmares than the harsh pharmaceuticals approved by the federal government and handed out by the VA, according to many former members of the military. Prescription drugs such as Zoloft and Klonopin are often ineffective and make them feel like zombies, many veterans said.

"I went from being an anxious mess to numbing myself with the pills they were giving me," said 39-year-old former Marine Mike Whiter of Philadelphia, where marijuana is still illegal. "Cannabis helped me get out of the hole I was in. I started to talk to people and get over my social anxiety."

After Andy Zorn got home from serving with the Army in Iraq, he suffered from PTSD and self-medicated with cannabis. The VA diagnosed him with "marijuana dependence" as well as depression and bipolar disorder, according to his mother, Sally Schindel of Prescott, Arizona.

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:

Ohio: Group Releases Specifics of New Medical Marijuana Ballot Measure

OhioMedicalMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana could be on the November's ballot in Ohio if 305,291 signatures of registered voters are collected.

The plan, which could provide medicinal cannabis to an estimated 215,000 Ohioans with qualifying medical conditions by 2018, is backed by the D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which has been successful with ballot initiatives in other states, reports Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch.

A year after Ohioans overwhelmingly rejected a for-profit plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, the MPP is counting on the differences in the plans to mean success this time. ResponsibleOhio's plan would have handed over control of commercial cannabis cultivation in the state to a dozen wealthy investors who backed the campaign.

MPP will be working locally through a group called Ohioans for Medical Marijuana.

“The Ohio initiative is similar to the medical-marijuana laws in 23 states and the District of Columbia,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the MPP, reports Meghan Matthews at WBNS-10TV. “The Ohio initiative will allow patients with a list of medical problems to use, possess, and grow their own medical marijuana if they have the approval of their physicians.”

California: NORML Endorses Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA)

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The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) on Monday announced that its Board of Directors has formally voted to endorse the California ballot measure known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

Founded in 1970, NORML has been a voice for marijuana reform in states all across the country and has helped increase public awareness of the failures and costs of marijuana prohibition. But the organization's credibility has taken a terrible hit since 2012, when NORML supported I-502, the Washington state legalization measure that has resulted in the decimation of the state's medical marijuana community and the virtual repeal of protections designed to protect safe access for patients.

"With the largest population of both marijuana producers and consumers in the United States, along with the largest voting delegation in Congress, the importance of voters in America's most populous and influential state, California, passing a binding marijuana legalization ballot initiative in 2016 can't be overstated,” said Allen St. Pierre, NORML's executive director. “On the matter of ending marijuana prohibition in America, as California goes, so too goes the rest of the nation."

NORML joins the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, California Cannabis Industry Association, California Medical Association and California NAACP, among others, in support of AUMA, which has been supported to the tune of a million bucks by Napster founder Sean Parker, who was also in on Facebook at the ground floor with founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Ohio: Marijuana Policy Project Wants Medical Cannabis On November Ballot

OhioMedicalMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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

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

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

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

Illinois: Bill Introduced To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Rep. Kelly Cassidy on Thursday announced that she is introducing new legislation for 2016 that would replace criminal penalties with a civil fine for possession of a personal amount of marijuana in Illinois.

HB 4357 would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine. Adults would no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense would be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

The proposal largely mirrors legislation previously introduced by Rep. Cassidy that was approved in the Senate (37-19) on May 21 and in the House (62-53) on April 23, as well the amendments proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner when he vetoed the bill and returned it to the legislature on August 14.

“This is a reasonable proposal that is long overdue,” Rep. Cassidy said. “It needs to happen, and I am hopeful that we can make it happen quickly since it’s already such familiar territory for legislators and the governor.”

Members of the Illinois faith community joined Rep. Cassidy at the news conference to voice support for the bill. More than 50 clergy from around the state have signed a Religious Declaration of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, which includes support for civil rather than criminal sanctions for marijuana possession.

U.S.: Bernie Sanders Introduces First-Ever Senate Bill To End Marijuana Prohibition

BernieSanders[AlexWong-GettyImages]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would repeal all federal penalties for possessing and growing marijuana, allowing states to establish their own marijuana laws. The bill is available online at http://www.mpp.org/sandersbill.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015” strikes all references to marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, but retains penalties for transporting marijuana from states or jurisdictions where it is legal to those where it is not. It is the fourth marijuana policy reform bill to ever be introduced in the Senate, and it is the first that proposes ending marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

The introduction comes shortly after a Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, regulation, and taxation, and after Senator Sanders’s announcement of his own support of legalization, the first major-party presidential candidate to do so.

Earlier this year, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced medical marijuana legislation, known as the CARERS Act. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill to address the tax status of marijuana businesses, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a measure that would allow marijuana businesses to access banking services.

U.S.: 'Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers' Named By MPP

ObamaIDontThinkItsMoreDangerousThanAlcohol

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on Wednesday released its annual list of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers” in the United States.

The list is available below and at https://www.mpp.org/Top50.

“About one out of every two Americans has used marijuana, including a whole lot of very successful people,” said Mason Tvert, MPP’s director of communications. “There are a lot more out there that we don’t know about because it is illegal.

"Marijuana is a less harmful substance than alcohol," Tvert said. "Adults who use it responsibly should not have to choose between keeping it a secret or admitting to a crime.”

President Barack Obama is at the top of MPP’s list, followed by several 2016 presidential candidates. At least eight (and as many as 17) of the 23 major-party presidential hopefuls have said or strongly indicated that they have consumed marijuana: Jeb Bush, Lincoln Chafee, Ted Cruz, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and Rick Santorum.

Nine others do not appear to have said whether they have consumed marijuana, and they did not respond to inquiries from MPP: Joe Biden, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb.

Only six candidates have said they never used marijuana: Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.

Oregon: Advocates Say July 1 Marijuana Legalization Is Just The First Step

OregonMadeOutOfMarijuana[KikiWinters-WillametteWeek]

Oct. 1 early start bill passes in Oregon Senate; Oregon police to stop arresting people for some marijuana crimes

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The day before adult use of marijuana becomes legal in Oregon, leaders of the state’s drug reform movement said they plan to expand their work to change how Oregon approaches drug policy.

“Thanks to Oregon voters, we have made history and become national leaders in drug reform,” said Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner of the Yes on 91 campaign to legalize marijuana. “But there’s still a lot to do, and this is just the beginning.”

Johnson has been advocating for an earlier start to regulated sales for marijuana, and the Oregon Senate today passed a bill, 23-6, that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to start selling marijuana to adults 21 and older on Oct. 1. Another bill that reduces marijuana-related criminal penalties is making its way to the governor’s desk.

Johnson said marijuana should no longer be classified as a drug as dangerous as heroin, that more money should be devoted to marijuana-related research, and that “we should focus more on helping people and less on incarcerating them.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a strong advocate for changes to federal drug laws and a leader of the Oregon campaign to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, discussed his efforts to reform outdated marijuana policy at the federal level.

Washington: 10-Person Team Sells Marijuana For City Government

NorthBonnevilleCannabisCorner[KPTV]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Just a few days after it opened, the nation's only government-run marijuana shop was running low on weed. Open for just a few days, manager Robyn Legun, 36, was frantically trying to restock. "If I don't get this order in this morning, we're going to be out for the weekend," Legun fretted. Someone joked about a typical government operation, always running late.

But this government store is far from typical, reports Todd C. Frankel at The Washington Post. This store -- Cannabis Corner, in North Bonneville, Washington, deep in the Columbia River Gorge -- sells dozens of strains of marijuana, along with pot-infused cookies and coffee, glass bongs, and rolling papers.

And the store does all of this at the direction of the North Bonneville Public Development Authority, making the city government dependent on this once-illegal drug for cash flow.

Legun managed a Bed Bath & Beyond in a previous job, but now she leads a team of 10 city employees trained to sell marijuana. These days, she's placing orders for Blue Magoo, Purple Kush and Pineapple Express.

"I can't believe this is my life," she said.

New Hampshire: Supporters Of Marijuana Legalization Bill Hold Press Conference

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Bill sponsors joined by attorneys Paul Twomey and Jonathan Cohen, and Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, at event prior to House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee hearing on HB 618

Supporters of a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Hampshire held a news conference at 1:30 p.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building prior to a hearing on the bill by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), was be joined at the event by bill cosponsor Rep. Joe Lachance (R-Manchester), attorney Paul Twomey, attorney Jonathan Cohen, and Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project.

The committee hearing followed, scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET in Room 204 of the Legislative Office Building.

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Schroadter 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. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

Maryland: Bill To Legalize, Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Introduced In Legislature

MarylandMarijuana[TheDailyChronic]

Bill would make marijuana legal for adults, establish regulations for cultivation and sale

A bill that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly on Friday. HB 911, the Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015, sponsored by Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City), would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes.

The bill requires the Maryland Comptroller to establish rules and regulations for the operation of cultivation facilities, product manufacturers, retailers, and safety compliance labs. It also creates an oversight commission to monitor marijuana businesses and advise the comptroller on regulatory issues.

The fiscal note for similar legislation proposed in 2014 estimated about $95.6 million per year in revenue from the $50/ounce excise taxes and about $39 million in new revenue from sales taxes. State expenditures would be exceeded through the estimated $1.995 to $3.985 million in yearly revenue in licensing fees from wholesalers, retailers, and safety compliance facilities.

A companion bill, SB 531, was introduced by Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) earlier this week.

Marijuana businesses would not be permitted to operate within 1,000 feet of a school, and localities would be able to enforce additional regulations. Using marijuana in public and driving under the influence would remain illegal.

Alaska Becomes Fourth State To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Alaska on Tuesday became the fourth U.S. state to legalize marijuana, joining Oregon, where voters had approved a legalization measure earlier the same day, and Colorado and Washington, both of which legalized in 2012.

Measure 2, which was approved by 52 percent of Alaska voters, allows adults 21 and older and possess up to an ounce of cannabis, grow up to six plants at home, and transfer up to an ounce at a time to other adults "without remuneration," reports Jacob Sullum at Reason. State-licensed growers, cannabis product manufacturers, and marijuana retailers will be regulated by the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board or a separate agency created by the Legislature.

"Now that it's been shown that putting marijuana legalization on the ballot can succeed even in midterms, we can expect to see a huge surge of additional states voting to end prohibition during the 2016 presidential election," Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority told Hemp News early on Wednesday. "And because the issue has been proven to be mainstream as far as voters are concerned, we may even see lawmakers in several states jumping ahead to legalize marijuana legislatively in the meantime."

Maine: Activists To Submit Final Petition For Initiative To Legalize Marijuana In York

DavidBoyerCitizensForASaferMaine

Citizens for a Safer Maine will submit its petition Wednesday in support of a citizen initiative to make private marijuana possession legal for adults 21 years of age and older in the Town of York. York Selectman Ronald Nowell will join initiative backers at a media availability at 2 p.m. ET in front of York Town Hall prior to submitting the petition to the Town Clerk’s Office.

Citizens for a Safer Maine collected more than 900 total signatures, and just 641 valid signatures of registered town voters are needed to qualify for the ballot.

In July, the group submitted more than 100 signatures in order to place the measure in front of the York Board of Selectmen. On July 28, it voted 3-2 against putting the measure on the ballot, giving Citizens for a Safer Maine 30 days to collect the additional 600-plus signatures.

The initiative would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to privately possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It would remain illegal to consume or display marijuana in public.

The measure also includes a statement in support of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level. A similar measure will appear on the November ballot in South Portland, and one is expected to be placed on the ballot in Lewiston following a city council hearing next week.

Maine: South Portland Council To Consider Marijuana Legalization Measure

DavidBoyerCitizensForASaferMaine

The South Portland City Council will consider a citizen-initiated measure at its meeting Monday night that would make private marijuana possession legal for adults. The council can enact the proposed law or place it on the ballot.

Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted more than 1,500 signatures to place the measure in front of the council. Just 959 valid signatures of registered city voters were required.

Citizens for a Safer Maine qualified a similar measure for the ballot in Lewiston, and it is in the process of collecting the final signatures needed to place one on the ballot in York.

The initiative would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It would remain illegal to consume or display marijuana in public.

The measure also includes a statement in support of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.

“This is a common-sense proposal,” said Marijuana Policy Project Maine political director David Boyer. “Adults who are of legal age to use alcohol should not be punished simply for consuming a far less harmful substance.

"We hope the council members will agree law enforcement officials’ time and resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes,” Boyer said.

WHAT: South Portland City Council hearing on a citizen-initiated measure that would make private marijuana possession legal for adults

WHEN: Monday, August 18, 7 p.m. ET

WHERE: South Portland City Hall, 25 Cottage Rd., South Portland

U.S.: Senate To Vote On House-Approved Amendment To Protect Medical Marijuana States

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The Senate is expected to vote — possibly as soon as Thursday night or Friday — on a measure that is intended to shield medical marijuana patients and providers from enforcement of federal laws in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The amendment to S. 2347, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, to be offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), is intended to prohibit the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from spending funds to raid and arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers. It will be the first time the amendment has been offered in the Senate.

The House medical marijuana amendment was offered by six Republicans and six Democrats: Reps. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Young (R-AK), Blumenauer (D-OR), McClintock (R-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Broun (R-GA), Polis (D-CO), Stockman (R-TX), Lee (D-CA), Amash (R-MI) and Titus (D-NV). 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted for the amendment. It was approved on May 30 by a vote of 219-189.

“Poll after poll shows 70 to 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Even among conservatives, most oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal for some purpose.

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