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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.

Ohio: Two Medical Marijuana Issues Proposed For Fall Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Ohio voters failed to legalize recreational marijuana last year, but may see two measures on the ballot this year for medical marijuana.

A proposal from the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, DC group that has helped in the passage of marijuana initiatives in other states, appears to be the strongest and best funded. That initiative would allow 215,000 patients with qualifying medical conditions to use marijuana prescribed by a doctor, and permit patients to grow their own or buy it from retail dispensaries. It would oversee the system and would restrict marijuana use in public or while driving.

The proposed constitutional amendment would limit the number of growers to 15; this has brought criticism from some voters who feel this could create special-interest problems.

Another marijuana initiative is being drafted by a group pursuing both a constitutional amendment to place medical marijuana and industrial hemp in the Ohio constitution, and an initiated statute to create the rules for how both would be regulated.

Don E. Wirtshafter, an Athens county lawyer who is helping to draft that initiative, said Ohio voters are "concerned with people using the constitution for these investment schemes."

“The MPP proposal is so wired for economic interests,” Wirthshafter said. “This is secret money that’s not traceable. They’re trying to lock in the franchises and own them forever.”

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

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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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S.: Marijuana Policy Project To Celebrate 20th Anniversary Wednesday With Capitol Hill Gala

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The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) will celebrate its 20th anniversary Wednesday evening with a gala on Capitol Hill.

Members of Congress and the marijuana business community will be among those in attendance to recognize the gains that have been made by the organization, which is responsible for most major state-level marijuana policy reforms since 2000.

MPP executive director Rob Kampia, Chuck Thomas, and Mike Kirshner launched the organization out of their apartments in Washington, D.C. in 1995. It now has nearly 30 full-time staff members and an annual budget of more than $3 million. MPP monitors policy in all 50 states, lobbies in state legislatures and in Congress, coordinates state and local ballot initiatives, and carries out public education activities at the local and national levels.

“For 20 years, our focus has been on changing the debate, changing public attitudes, and changing the laws surrounding marijuana in the United States,” Kampia said. “MPP has evolved right alongside the issue. As support has increased and public dialogue has grown, the organization has expanded and played an increasingly larger role in the discussion.

“Ultimately, the facts speak for themselves; we just make sure people are listening,” Kampia said.

Arizona: MPP Director Threatens Dispensaries Over Legalization Battle

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Rob Kampia reportedly threatened to spend thousands of dollars to disrupt two Arizona dispensaries, threatening that a key staffer at the shops who also formerly headed up MPP's recreational legalization push in the state will "pay a price" if she leads a competing ballot measure.

The rift leaves the future of recreational marijuana in Arizona in doubt, reports John Schroyer at Marijuana Business Daily, pitting a prominent pro-cannabis organization against a dispensary executive and many of her peers in the medical marijuana industry.

The dispute grew from disagreements between MPP and several dozen Arizona dispensaries over the language of a proposed 2016 ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana. Negotiations between the two factions reportedly fell apart last week. Gina Berman, who at the time was chairwoman of MPP's Arizona legalization campaign, is the medical director at The Giving Tree Wellness Center dispensaries.

Photo of Rob Kampia: Reason TV

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

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."

California: Marijuana Policy Project Filing Committee For 2016 Legalization Initiative

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The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is filing a committee with the California Secretary of State on Wednesday to support a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in California. According to MPP, "It will be part of a broad coalition of local activists, community leaders, organizations, and businesses working to pass a measure similar to the one approved by voters in Colorado in 2012."

The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, will immediately begin raising funds to help place the measure on the November 2016 ballot. MPP was the largest financial backer of the Colorado initiative campaign.

“Marijuana prohibition has had an enormously detrimental impact on California communities," said MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia. "It’s been ineffective, wasteful, and counterproductive. It’s time for a more responsible approach.

“A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible," Kampia said. "Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.

“Marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than alcohol, and that’s how it needs to be treated," Kampia said. "Regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol just makes sense.”

Massachusetts: Group Plans 2016 Bid For Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Marijuana Policy Project is setting the stage for a 2016 marijuana legalization campaign in Massachusetts.

MPP, the Washington, D.C.-based group that organized and financed Colorado's Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in that state, has opened a ballot committee with Massachusetts campaign finance regulators, reports Paul McMorrow at CommonWealth.

Executive Director Rob Kampia opened a ballot referendum committee with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance on Tuesday. The committee, called the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts, allows MPP to begin raising and spending money in the state.

MPP plans to put a cannabis legalization question on the ballot for the Presidential election year; it also plans on waging 2016 legalization campaigns in Arizona, California, Maine, Montana and Nevada. Alaska will vote on legalization in August, and Oregon will vote either this year or in 2016.

The Marijuana Policy Project spent $2 million in Colorado getting Amendment 64 approved; it passed by 10 percentage points, running more than five points ahead of President Obama in the state.

"We're going to be spending the next year working to build a coalition," said Mason Tvert, MPP's director of communications. "We really want to replicate the Colorado process, and not just the winning part.

Colorado: World's First Modern Legal Adult Marijuana Sales Begin

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The Marijuana Policy Project — the largest financial backer of the Colorado legalization initiative — will support efforts to pass similar laws regulating marijuana like alcohol in 13 more states by 2017

About three dozen state-licensed marijuana retail stores in Colorado at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, January 1, began legally selling marijuana to adults 21 years of age and older. The state is the first jurisdiction in the modern world to establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

Colorado made marijuana legal for adults in November 2012 when 55 percent of voters approved a statewide ballot initiative known as Amendment 64.

“The era of marijuana prohibition is officially over in Colorado,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the largest financial backer of the campaign in support of Amendment 64. “The state is demonstrating to the rest of the nation and the entire world that regulating marijuana works.

“It’s only a matter of time before lawmakers and voters in more states adopt similar laws regulating marijuana like alcohol,” Kampia said. “The dominoes are falling.”

U.S.: New Gallup Poll Shows 58% of Americans Support Making Marijuana Legal

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Gallup poll released on Tuesday shows 58 percent of voters nationwide “think the use of marijuana should be made legal.” Only 39 percent of respondents said they do not. Support increased by eight percentage points since Gallup asked the same question in October 2011, at which time it found a record-high 50 percent in favor.

The poll is the first conducted by Gallup since voters in Colorado and Washington approved ballot measures making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales. It also comes nearly two months after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not interfere in the implementation of those state laws and others that effectively regulate marijuana for medical use.

The national poll of 1,028 registered voters was conducted October 3-6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. The full results are available here.

“The dramatically increasing support for making marijuana legal should come as no surprise," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Marijuana prohibition has been an abject failure. Most Americans realize it is unjust, wasteful, and counterproductive to invest in the criminalization of adults for using a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol.

Texas: Poll Shows 58% of Voters Support Legalizing Marijuana

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More than 60 percent support removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession and replacing them with a civil citation similar to a traffic ticket

A strong majority of Texas voters (58 percent) support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Only 38 percent said they were opposed.

"Marijuana prohibition has been just as big a failure as alcohol prohibition," said MPP executive director Rob Kampia, a part-time Austin resident. "Most Texans agree that marijuana sales should be conducted by legitimate businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market."

The poll also found that 61 percent of state voters support removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replacing them with a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no possibility of jail time. Only 30 percent said they were opposed.

Under current Texas law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana, and he or she can be sentenced to up to one year in jail and fined up to $2,000.

"Law enforcement officials' time would be better spent addressing violent crimes instead of adults simply possessing marijuana," Kampia said. "No adult should face potentially life-altering criminal penalties for using a product that is significantly less harmful than alcohol."

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