Tag: Nevada

After Nearly 80 Years of Marijuana Prohibition, the Tide is Turning

After Nearly 80 Years of Marijuana Prohibition, the Tide is Turning

As marijuana legalization gains traction across the country, some ask “Why now?” A better question perhaps is “How did this prohibition ever last so long?”

People have always suffered the compulsion to hunt scapegoats, and politicians are more than happy to pander to our harshest instincts. With two world wars and the Cold War, the 20th Century in particular, was a time of fear, with a hunger for social control and conformity. The malignant belief of the Communists and other totalitarians in the perfectibility of humanity at any cost, whether in terms of control of the mind, or punishment of the body, was in the air. It spilled over into democratic societies.

79 years ago, in that zeitgeist, marijuana was made illegal.

Nixon, in his era, glommed onto the drug laws as a handy weapon to batter his political opponents.

The counterculture of that time provided the seed of today’s push for policy reform. Young people grew up in a continual state of fear. The government seemed out to get them. Any traffic stop might land you in prison. Profiling — a “peace” bumper sticker — or perhaps the proverbial “broken taillight,” could easily bring on a police search. Even if they couldn’t find anything, one might pull a bag of pot out of his own pocket, and say “gotcha.”

Activists arose everywhere. Despite harassment and ridicule, they persevered. Eventually national figures, such as Allen St. Pierre of NORML and Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, began to lay the groundwork for the present.

Meanwhile, self perpetuating bureaucracies, the vested interests of police, courts and jailers, and ordinary political inertia, continued the expansion of arrests. By the time of the Clinton Administration, it was nearly one million per year.

Stepping aside from the white middle class victims, it was among minorities that the crusade against marijuana users was most terrible. With criminal records crippling employability, every black community has been held back by prohibition.

Race was always a factor. After all, Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner, Harry Anslinger, the point man for the prohibition effort in 1937, argued that marijuana needed to be outlawed because it “makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

(Even today, in Colorado, with “legalization,” there are enough regulations and restrictions that marijuana arrests are not uncommon… and figures show blacks are again being targeted disproportionately.)

Fewer reform leaders have survived in the black community, due to the greater intensity of the crushing pressures. But Robert Forchion, Deborah Peterson, and Neil Franklin are some notable names to remember.

Elders, of whatever race, many of whom may not have even seen marijuana for decades, recall their youthful spiritual explorations, or just their social bonding with friends. They remember the way the authorities treated them as if they were doing something wrong. It still sticks in their craw.

Young people, several generations past, and having no connection to the 30s or to the 60s, continue to be hounded.

It was almost inevitable that a groundswell for repeal would arise.

Not among the political elites however. Though seemingly a gateway drug to the presidency (the last three holders of that office have smoked marijuana), most politicians, at least of the two major parties, still wish to acquiesce in the status quo.

The saving grace is the ability of voters to bypass the elite with citizen’s initiatives. Not, as yet, available to all, it is an option in 24 states. Five states, Massachusetts, Maine, California, Arizona, and Nevada, have legalization referenda on the ballot this fall.

In a few more, including New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, a few legislators are even beginning to recognize their opportunity, break with their Party leaders, and introduce bills to end prohibition.

Opposition does exist. Prohibitionists like Patrick Kennedy still trot out their tired old jeremiads. But compared to the scary Torquemadas of old, they seem so pathetic, one would almost be tempted to feel sorry for them — if it weren’t for their platforms being so pernicious.

A larger challenge for legalization supporters is one few anticipated. Crony capitalism is moving in with a vengeance. Business interests, often with strong political connections, are attempting to write the rules to allow “legalization” for themselves alone. High barriers to entry for licensing, sales restricted to tiny retail quantities, outlawing home growing, etc. Prohibition lite it is being called. A corrupt trend which must be resisted.

© 2016 The Daily Chronic. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without expressed, written permission.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Legalization 2016: America Votes

If 2012 was cannabis legalization’s breakthrough election, 2016 may prove to be the movement’s tipping point. When Colorado and Washington state voted to allow the adult use of cannabis in 2012, 12 million Americans gained the freedom to purchase and consume. If all five adult-use ballot measures pass in 2016, a total of 76 million people — nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population — will live in states with legal, regulated adult-use cannabis. On the medical side, Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota would add 24 million residents to the roughly 160 million Americans already living in 25 states with legal medical cannabis.

Leafly’s political staff will continually update this page with the latest poll numbers, financial contributions, and election data. Follow our campaign features and expanded coverage at Leafly Politics.

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States In Play: November 2016

Adult Use Legalization

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Medical Use Legalization

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National Polling

The Pew Research Center’s poll on legalization continues to be the best source of data on America’s rapidly changing views on cannabis. Rule of thumb: The younger the voter, the more likely they are to support adult-use legalization.

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State-By-State Polling

Legalization campaigns are a lot like presidential campaigns: People tend to watch the national polling figures, but what really matters are the state-by-state polls. Good piece on this recently by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, by the way — well worth reading. The Pew national poll is great for taking the nation’s overall temperature, but the legalization movement marches forward one state at a time. (Polls on state-level cannabis support aren’t taken at regular intervals, so the time-axes are a little funky.)

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Follow The Money

Money doesn’t always change everything, but in politics it matters an awful lot. Here’s the latest data on contributions for and against legalization campaigns. Keep in mind that there’s often a lag of anywhere between several weeks and several months in the public disclosure of contributions due to each state’s campaign financing rules.

Arizona

PACs For Legalization (Initiative 205)

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PACs Against Legalization (Initiative 205)

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Donors For Legalization (Initiative 205)

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Donors Against Legalization (Initiative 205)

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California

PACs For Legalization (Prop. 64)

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PACs Against Legalization (Prop. 64)

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Top Donors For Legalization (Prop. 64)

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Top Donors Against Legalization (Prop. 64)

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Massachusetts

PACS For Legalization (Question 4) 

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PACs Against Legalization (Question 4) 

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Voter Registration Deadlines

Most election coverage focuses on the sprint to November 8. But there’s a hidden campaign going on right now: the race to register voters. In Nevada, more than half a million eligible voters remain unregistered. In Florida, there are 2.75 million. Most states allow voters to register until early to mid October. Remember: You can’t win it if you ain’t in it.

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Links to Voter Registration Sites


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

State of the Leaf: Montana Dispensaries Shut Down in Droves

U.S. News Updates

Alaska

Cannabis social clubs have existed in a legal gray area since the state legalized cannabis for adult use in 2014. But this week Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth weighed in, the Associated Press reports, saying that under his office’s interpretation of the law, the clubs are illegal. Cannabis social clubs are not to be confused with licensed retail cannabis shops, however, which will allow onsite consumption under strict regulations. Separate clubs are considered public spaces in the same vein as movie theatres, cafes, or other businesses — and as such consumption there is illegal. Lindemuth didn’t specify whether the state will take legal action against existing clubs.

Arizona

Proposition 205, which would legalize cannabis for adult use in Arizona, is officially headed for November’s ballot after finally shrugging off legal challenges by opponents. The measure’s ballot language will change slightly as the result of the latest challenge, however. Maricopa County Judge James Blomo this week ordered Secretary of State Michele Reagan to change the description, which currently says cannabis would be legal for anyone “over 21,” to correctly reflect that adults “21 and older” may lawfully consume cannabis.

Colorado

Denver advocates are trying to carve out safe public spaces in which adults can consume cannabis socially, but one of the citywide initiatives just bit the dust. Although NORML’s Denver chapter submitted more than 7,500 in support of its cannabis social club initiative, city officials found that only 2,987 signatures were valid. An alternative measure, the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Initiative, submitted 10,800 signatures that are still being verified by state officials.

Montana

Despite the best efforts of medical marijuana advocates and patients across the state, most Montana dispensaries went dark this week. A court ruling from March limits dispensaries to serving just three patients total. Implementation of the ruling was delayed until Aug. 31. Though advocates fought tooth and nail to delay it further, their efforts fell short. Dispensaries that chose to close operations held sales and even gave away product as a goodbye to some of the state’s 13,640 registered patients. In certain areas, such as Butte, as many as 93 percent of patients will no longer have safe access to medicinal cannabis. Advocates are hoping to undo the crippling restriction through a ballot measure, Initiative 182, that will be on the ballot in November. The initiative would erase the court ruling and ease restrictions on the medical marijuana program. If the ballot measure passes, many dispensary owners plan to re-open their shops.

Nevada

At least three Nevada-based prohibitionist groups have been formed to fight Question 2, the measure on November’s ballot that would legalize adult-use cannabis in the state. But so far legalization opponents have been curiously quiet, having neither purchased nor reserved a single TV advertising slot. A Reno educational nonprofit known as Join Together Northern Nevada has, however, erected several billboards in Reno and Las Vegas with images of cookies and candies beside text that reads, “Can you spot the POT? Can your KIDS?” For now all eyes are on Sheldon Adelson, a staunch anti-cannabis voice who provided financial backing for campaigns that opposed Florida’s 2014 push to legalize medical marijuana. Late last year Adelson bought Nevada’s biggest paper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and critics have since noticed a shift in the paper’s opinion pages.

New York

The state Health Department is making changes to the state’s medical marijuana program in an attempt to address patient complaints. The changes will be based on recommendations of an agency report, which include allowing nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis and allowing home delivery of medicine. The regulations are subject to a 45-day comment period before they’re enacted, but home deliveries of cannabis products could be available as early as the end of September. The report also recommended expanding qualifying conditions to include post-traumatic stress disorder and other debilitating illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Tennessee

Both Memphis and Nashville are considering municipal measures to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, but law enforcement officials are divided on the idea. Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, in Nashville, has expressed support for the measure, asking “Do you really want the 19-year-old kid who has marijuana in the car … sent to jail overnight, go to court, tie up bed space?” The Nashville measure would replace current criminal penalties for possessing up to a half an ounce of cannabis to a civil fine of $50 or 10 hours of community service. Sheriff Joe Long of Williamson County, however, argues that decriminalization creates a loophole for drug dealers. “Here is what happens: A dealer will carry just a half-ounce with him and leave the rest in the car, then go back and return with another half-ounce,” he said. In Memphis, where a similar decriminalization measure is being considered, the City Council’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee voted to approve the measure despite the Memphis Police Department’s testimony against it.

International News Updates

Israel

An Israeli doctor is in the process of obtaining permits from the Health Ministry for one of the first formal clinical trials of the effects of cannabis on autism. Dr. Adi Eran is leading the study, which will involve 120 patients with autism. Participants are between 4 and 30 years and have been diagnosed with low- to medium-functioning autism. Treatment will involve cannabis oils high in CBD and low in THC and will focus specifically on a certain behavioral symptoms, such as physical aggression toward themselves and others. Cannabis oil is not typically recognized as a form of treatment for autism, but anecdotal evidence shows that it has helped several dozen Israeli patients who suffer from severe, treatment-resistant symptoms.

New Zealand

The Ministry of Justice in Rotorua released figures in response to a public-records request that reveal that the number of individuals arrested for cannabis possession has fallen more than 66 percent in the last six years. The drop was attributed to law enforcement being more likely to issue warnings for low-level drug offenses, but it’s also a reflection of changing attitudes towards cannabis in New Zealand. A recent Drug Foundation poll found that 64 percent of Kiwis believe possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use ought to be decriminalized, and 79 percent support cannabis use for medicinal reasons.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

These 5 States Will Vote on Marijuana Legalization in November

These 5 States Will Vote on Marijuana Legalization in November

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan last week certified a marijuana legalization initiative for the November ballot, setting the stage for a national election that will see the issue go directly to the voters in five states, including California, the nation’s most populous.

Four states have already legalized marijuana at the ballot box, Colorado and Washington in 2012 and Alaska and Oregon in 2014. The District of Columbia also legalized marijuana—but not commercial sales—in 2014.

But those states combined only have a population of about 17 million people. Winning California alone would more than double that figure and winning all five states would triple it. If all five states vote for pot, we could wake up on November 9 with nearly a quarter of the nation living under marijuana legalization.

And that could finally lay the groundwork for serious progress on ending federal marijuana prohibition. With national opinion polls now consistently reporting majorities for pot legalization, public sentiment is shifting in favor of such a move, and if voters in these five states actually do legalize it, that sentiment will have been translated into political facts on the ground. Congress may finally begin to listen.

Still, it’s not a done deal. Voters have to actually go to the polls and vote. But all five initiative campaigns are well-funded, increasingly with marijuana industry money and are in a position to significantly outspend the organized opposition. They also start from a generally favorable polling position, with leads in most of the states. And they can now point to the examples of the earlier legalization states, where, despite dire prediction, the sky has not fallen, and state treasuries are growing fat with pot fee and tax revenues.

Of the five states that will take up legalization in November, four have initiative campaigns organized under the imprimatur of the Marijuana Policy Project, whose “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” campaign proved so successful in Colorado. California is the one exception, with its initiative written by a group around tech billionaire Sean Parker and heavily influenced by the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy led by Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Here are the five states and their initiatives:

Sponsored by the Arizona Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the initiative would allow people 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants “in an enclosed, locked space within their residences.” It would also create a state agency, the Department of Marijuana License and Control, to oversee legal, licensed marijuana commerce, but would limit the number of marijuana retail shops to one-tenth the number of liquor store licenses, which would be fewer than 180.

The measure would allow localities to regulate or ban pot businesses, and it would impose a 15% excise tax on retail sales, with 80% of revenues earmarked for schools and 20% for substance abuse education. The measure does not allow for public use and does not remove existing penalties for possession of more than an ounce or six plants. That means possession of 28 grams is legal, but possession of 29 grams is a felony. The measure does not provide employment rights for marijuana user and it does not change the state’s bizarrely strict drugged driving law, which criminalizes the presence of inactive marijuana metabolites, but does not require actual impairment to be proven.

The campaign has raised $2.2 million so far and may need to spend every cent to win. An April poll had Arizonans rejecting legalization 43%-49% and a July poll had legalization losing 39%-52%. Those numbers are going to be tough to overcome, but with normally rock-ribbed red state Arizona shifting to battleground state status this wacky election year, the state could be a pleasant surprise come Election Day.

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) initiative sponsored by Yes on 64 would allow people 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants, keeping the fruits of their harvest. It would also allow the unregulated gifting of up to a quarter-ounce of marijuana. The measure would also allow for licensed on-site marijuana consumption, or “cannabis cafes.” It would allow for legal marijuana commerce regulated by a new Bureau of Marijuana Control, which would replace the existing Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, and would impose a 15% retail sales tax and a $9.25 per ounce cultivation tax imposed at the wholesale level.

In a nod to the state’s existing ma-and-pa pot growing industry, the measure would license “micro-grows” (under 10,000 square feet), but would not allow “mega-grows” (more than ½ acre indoors or 1 acre outdoors) until 2023 at the earliest. Most remaining criminal offenses around marijuana would be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors. Cities and counties could opt out of marijuana commerce, but only by a vote of residents, and they could not ban personal possession or cultivation. The measure provides no employment protections for consumers and does not change existing impaired driving laws.

The campaign has raised $7.1 million so far, including $1.5 million from Sean parker, $1 million from Weedmaps founder Justin Hartfield, and significant contributions from the Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Action, the campaign and lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance. Fundraising is far exceeding the organized opposition, but in a state with a huge population and massive media markets, the campaign will need to double or even triple what it has raised so far.

The polling numbers are looking good, too. A February Probolsky Research poll had support for legalization at 59.9%, while a May Public Policy Institute of California poll echoed that with support at 60%. And the trend is upward—the same Public Policy Institute of California poll had support at only 54% last year. California should go green on November 8.

 Sponsored by the Maine Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the measure would allow people 21 and over to possess up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana, six flowering plants, and 12 immature ones. People could also give up to 2 ½ ounces or six plants to other adults without remuneration. The measure would allow legal marijuana commerce regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, with a 10% retail sales tax. The measure would also allow for on-site consumption, or “cannabis cafes,” but would require that all pot purchased at such facilities be consumed there. Localities could regulate or ban commercial marijuana facilities.

Campaign supporters have only raised $692,000 so far, but Maine is a small state with a low population and isn’t going to require millions to run a campaign. As in other initiative states, Maine opponents are trailing badly in fundraising, but will probably get some financial assistance from the prohibitionist Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which has vowed to put $2 million into the effort to defeat the five initiatives. Most of that money won’t be going to Maine, though.

The polling numbers so far are encouraging, with a March MPRC poll showing 53.8% support and a May Critical Insights poll coming in at 55%. Those numbers aren’t high enough for campaigners to rest easy, but they do suggest that victory is well within reach.

The measure sponsored by the Massachusetts Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol would allow people 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public or 10 ounces at home, as well as allowing the cultivation of up to six plants and the possession of the fruits of the harvest. It would allow legal marijuana commerce regulated by a Cannabis Control Commission, and it includes a provision that would allow on-site consumption at licensed facilities, or “cannabis cafes.”

Localities would have the option of banning legal marijuana commerce enterprises. The measure would impose a 3.75% excise tax in addition to the state’s 6.25% sales tax, making an effective tax rate of 10%. Localities could add local taxes of up to 2%, but they certainly couldn’t collect them if they didn’t allow marijuana businesses to operate. There are no employment protections for pot smokers, and the state’s drugged driving laws would remain unchanged.

Funding looks to be lagging in the Bay State, where supporters have only raised $500,000, less than in Maine, which has a significantly smaller population. Organized opposition in the form of the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts may be the strongest of any of the five states this year, with the governor, the mayor of Boston, and other leading public officials on board.

The polling suggests this will be a very tight race. A  July 2014 poll had the state evenly split, with 48% supporting legalization and 47% opposed, and polling from last year was showing slight majorities for legalization. But a May poll had only 43% support, with 45.8% opposed, and a July poll had legalization at 41%, with 50% opposed.

Sponsored by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Nevada, the measure would legalize the possession of up to one ounce by people 21 and over and would allow people to grow up to six plants—but only if they live more than 25 miles from a retail marijuana store. The measure also creates a system of licensed marijuana commerce to be overseen by the state Department of Taxation. The measure would impose a 15% tax on wholesale marijuana sales, and retail sales would be subject to already existing sales taxes. The measure contains no provisions for on-site cannabis consumption, does not alter existing impaired driving laws, and does not provide employment rights for pot smokers.

The campaign has raised more than $1 million so far, including $625,000 from people in the marijuana industry. But it also faces significant opposition in the person of conservative money-bags Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who gave $5 million to the campaign to defeat the 2014 Florida medical marijuana initiative. Adelson hasn’t so far kicked in directly to defeat Question 2, but he has bought the state’s largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and flipped its editorial position from supporting legalization to opposing it.

Polling on the initiative campaign is scarce, but encouraging. A KTNV/Rasmussen poll just two weeks ago had the measure winning, 50% to 41%.

And there you have it. Given all the information available, our best estimate is that California is most likely to win, followed by Maine and Nevada. Arizona looks like the toughest nut to crack, followed by Massachusetts. We will know by the time the sun rises on November 9.


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.org and was first published here.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Separating Myth From Fact: DPA Releases New Marijuana Facts Booklet

Separating Myth From Fact: DPA Releases New Marijuana Facts Booklet | Drug Policy Alliance

The Drug Policy Alliance on Thursday released Marijuana Facts, intended for non-expert audiences seeking answers to some of the most common questions asked about marijuana use, its effects, and the rapidly-shifting legal landscape. The booklet addresses 15 frequently-asked questions about subjects such as driving, mental health, brain development, potency, edibles and concentrates.  It touches on […]

Separating Myth From Fact: DPA Releases New Marijuana Facts Booklet | The Daily Chronic


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

2016 Marijuana-Related Statewide Ballot Proposals

2016 Marijuana-Related Statewide Ballot Proposals | Danielle Keane

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: 2016 is set to be a monumental year for marijuana law reform. There are currently nine pending ballot initiatives to either legalize adult marijuana use or to legalize the use of medical marijuana for qualifying medical conditions. The country could double the number of states that […]

2016 Marijuana-Related Statewide Ballot Proposals | The Daily Chronic


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

ASA Releases New Report on State Medical Marijuana Programs

ASA Releases New Report on State Medical Marijuana Programs

With the release last year of the first detailed analysis and comparison of state medical marijuana laws, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) created a patient-focused tool to identify effective programs and problem areas. That groundbreaking report was followed by the release of ASA’s new, far more detailed report on state programs, which reflects the many new states that have added programs as well as others that have improved their existing programs.

Like the original report, this latest white paper enables advocates, policy makers and concerned citizens to compare and contrast from the patient’s’ point of view the 40 different approaches currently in place in the U.S. Unlike last year’s, this report takes a much closer look at the regulatory frameworks for ensuring product quality and safety. By examining in detail the differences in how state medical cannabis programs have been designed and implemented, ASA’s latest report shines a light on the what’s working and what’s not in ways that can assist policy makers in making the programs under their oversight as broadly effective as possible in ensuring a consistent supply of quality-controlled medicine for the qualifying patients who need it.

A number of states — including Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Washington — have adopted regulations that reflect the best practice standards set forth by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). In addition to the AHPA Recommendations for Regulators, states are also incorporating the laboratory testing standards set forth in the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Cannabis Inflorescence Monograph. These authoritative, expert standards mean states no longer a need to omit these protocols or “reinvent the wheel” for medical cannabis product safety regulations.

Those expanded regulations to assure product quality and safety are the focus of the new rubric employed in this latest report on state programs. While states got credit in our original report for implementing regulations based on the AHPA and AHP, for 2016 we have taken a far more fine-grained approach to evaluating the extent to which each state program has adopted the recognized industry standards for everything from cultivation, manufacturing and distribution to laboratory testing for product identity and purity. Also included are measures of the ease of access for qualifying patients – arguably the most important criteria for programs – as well as the degree of civil protections from discrimination state law provides patients.  These laws all make a difference in patient’s’ lives, and in some cases may mean the difference between life and death.ASA average grade for state medical cannabis programs

Given the weight of product safety in the updated report’s scoring system, there are some grades that may stand out and raise certain questions. For example, states like Maryland, New York, and New Hampshire all received similar letter grade scores as long time states providing safe access, such as Arizona and Rhode Island. In most instances, this is due the lack of product safety regulations, or having outdated product safety regs that are no longer consistent with best practices. For states like Arizona and Rhode Island, the adoption of up-to-date product safety regulations will bring the overall grades in line with best performing states.

Much has changed in the nearly two decades since California passed the first medical marijuana law. Today, more than 275 million Americans, or about 85% of U.S. population, live where some form of medical cannabis use is legal locally. We estimate that these programs serve approximately two million patients under physician’s’ supervision. Within those various programs, physicians now recommend cannabis-based treatments for over 50 qualifying medical conditions and symptoms. That expansion has not created the problems opponents feared. States with medical cannabis programs have not experienced increased rates of teen use of cannabis. In fact, those states have seen unexpected benefits, including significant drops in opioid overdoses as well as in highway fatalities.

The takeaway from the report is that states are capable of implementing high quality  medical cannabis programs, but not nearly enough are do so in a way the serves patients well in all of the ways that these programs impact patients. This report highlights the given strengths and weaknesses that a state program has, and makes it clear where lawmakers and regulators can make improvements. Patients and caregiver activists can utilize this tool by showing their state officials what key features and protections their programs lack. Every medical cannabis law in the country has room for improvement, and this report can serve as the guide make those improvements become reality. Of course, states would be more free to create medical cannabis laws and regulations the best serve the greatest number of patients if the federal government would permanently end their interference with state programs. Passage of the CARERS Act would do just that, and would signal to lawmakers and regulators that their medical cannabis guidepost should be focused on improving patient outcomes rather than avoiding federal raids.

View and Download a Copy of the Report.

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Letter-grades for all 23 state laws and Washington, D.C.: Alaska (D-), Arizona (B-), California (B+), Colorado (B), Connecticut (C+), Delaware (C), Hawaii (B), Illinois (B+), Maine (B-), Maryland (B), Massachusetts (B), Michigan (D+), Minnesota (C), Montana (D-), Nevada (B), New Hampshire (C), New Jersey (C), New Mexico (B+), New York (C), Oregon (B), Rhode Island (C-), Vermont (D+), Washington (B), and the District of Columbia (C).


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

ASA Report Evaluates Medical Marijuana Programs Nationwide

ASA Report Evaluates Medical Marijuana Programs Nationwide

Patient Advocates Hope Report will Help State Legislators “Make the Grade” in 2016

WASHINGTON, DC — Americans for Safe Access (ASA) issued “Medical Marijuana Access in the US: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws,” on Tuesday. The annual report evaluates the array of differing state medical cannabis programs across the country from a perspective often overlooked in policy debates: the patients’ and provides policy makers with model legislation and regulations. With dozens of states already seeing legislative and regulatory proposals in 2016, this  groundbreaking report will provide state lawmakers with timely tools they need to improve their medical cannabis programs to truly meet the needs of the patients they are meant to serve.

Eighty-one percent  of Americans favor the legalization of medical marijuana according to a May 7, 2015, Harris Poll.  This broad support has led to unprecedented progress in state medical marijuana programs in 2015.  Nineteen states introduced legislation to legalize medical marijuana during the year. In addition, many of the twenty three states with current medical marijuana laws passed legislation to expand or improve their programs in 2015, including New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Connecticut, Oregon, California, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, Illinois, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. Other states, like Nevada and Vermont, expanded and improved their programs through new regulations.

This report comes at a perfect time to inform improvements to existing medical marijuana programs and guide legislators who are creating or expanding laws and programs. “Too often, patients are denied life-saving treatments solely because they are using medical cannabis,” said California Assemblymember Marc Levine, champion of the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act (AB 258), “It is imperative for state lawmakers to take advantage of vital resources like ASA’s report to improve their state programs.”

The report uses a point system to grade each medical marijuana law on: 1) patients’ rights and protection from discrimination, 2) access to medicine, 3) ease of navigation, 4) functionality, and 5) product safety protocols. The report  found that while many states have important elements helpful to patients, no state has yet established an ideal, comprehensive program.

ASA average grade for state medical cannabis programsThe most notable trend  in 2015 was the adoption and implementation of comprehensive product safety regulations. With Maryland’s medical marijuana program projected to begin serving patients in 2017, the state received the highest grade for product safety by working with ASA to combine its own stringent safety and quality control measures with those of the American Herbal Product Association’s (AHPA) Recommendations to Regulators in the areas of: cultivation, distribution and manufacturing. “The tools provided by Americans for Safe Access and the Patient Focused Certification program have been tremendously helpful in creating product safety regulations that will ensure Maryland patients are receiving the highest quality products and medicine possible” said Hannah Byron, executive director of the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

Maryland is not the only state adopting the best practices and AHPA recommendations and standards.  New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Washington have also done so.  Michael McGuffin,  President of AHPA, notes, “The report highlights how best practice guidance such as the Cannabis Committee’s Recommendations to Regulators documents can assist states in establishing regulations that ensure the quality and safety of cannabis products.”

The report takes a patient-centered approach, evaluating programs on how effective they are in meeting patients’ needs. ASA is asking their members to share the report with their state representatives. “With the increased interest in medical cannabis access around the country, it is imperative that we ensure that new and existing programs adopt regulations and standards that provide patients with safe medicine while protecting their rights,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “This report will help policymakers create and maintain programs that put the patients first.”

Letter-grades for all 23 state laws and Washington, D.C.: Alaska (D-), Arizona (B-), California (B+), Colorado (B), Connecticut (C+), Delaware (C), Hawaii (B), Illinois (B+), Maine (B-), Maryland (B), Massachusetts (B), Michigan (D+), Minnesota (C), Montana (D-), Nevada (B), New Hampshire (C), New Jersey (C), New Mexico (B+), New York (C), Oregon (B), Rhode Island (C-), Vermont (D+), Washington (B), and the District of Columbia (C).

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Marijuana Legalization 2016: Is It Better Than Prohibition?

Marijuana Legalization 2016: Is It Better Than Prohibition?

The test should be, “Is it better than Prohibition.” Does the proposal stop the arrest of smokers and establish a legal market where consumers can obtain their marijuana?

As we look forward to what should be a fantastically successful year for marijuana legalization, it is important that those of us who support legalization join arms and move forward in a unified manner. All political progress requires some measure of compromise, and legalizing marijuana is no exception.

Each state that legalizes marijuana, at least during this early stage of legalization, will still need to revisit the topic within a couple of years to fix things not covered in the original proposal (e.g., employment and child custody issues). We will need to expand and perfect these early models. But we must not permit the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

Supposed “Legalizers” Sometimes Opponents in Early States

In the first group of states to legalized marijuana, we witnessed some of our own friends and colleagues opposing the initiative in their state, sometimes serving as the primary opponents to the proposal, when they had the opportunity to end prohibition and stop the arrest of smokers. Their justification was always the same: the specific legalization proposal was not good enough.

Sometime their opposition was based on the failure of the initiative to permit home cultivation; sometimes it was because they opposed the DUID provisions; and sometimes they opposed the limits on the amount of marijuana one could legally possess or cultivate.

NORML has always insisted that consumers have the right to grow their own marijuana; we have led the efforts to require a showing of actual impairment before someone is convicted of a DUID; and, as consumers, we would be delighted if we were allowed to possess or grow larger quantities of marijuana, without the risk of arrest. But those are all political goals that we will continue to push for; not excuses for opposing legalization proposals that are less than perfect.

Is It Better Than Prohibition?

The test should be, “Is it better than Prohibition.” Does the proposal stop the arrest of smokers and establish a legal market where consumers can obtain their marijuana?

While it is understandable that those who have invested their time and energy, and sometimes resources, to advance a specific legalization proposal would feel a vested interest in seeing that version be the one that advances to the ballot, what is most important is that one good legalization proposal qualify for the ballot, and that the legalization movement both in-state and nationwide come together to embrace and support that proposal.

Although there have been competing versions of legalization advanced in most of the states where legalization is expected to appear on the ballot this November, there are encouraging signs that a consensus is forming in most of these states supporting one of the competing proposals, increasing the likelihood of ultimate success in November. There is still too much in-fighting in some of these states between different factions, but the trend looks positive.

Maine

In Maine, there were two competing initiatives (The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and Legalize Maine), and the one with the best funding has now merged efforts with the one comprised primarily of local activists, even accepting their language for the initiative,. The result is an apparent unified effort assuring that only one legalization proposal will appear on the ballot this fall, one that has an excellent chance of being approved by the voters.

This clearly required compromise from both groups, who were willing to make some concessions in the belief that the goal of legalizing marijuana was more important than the relatively minor differences between the two proposals. All parties should be commended.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, where there were two competing versions of legalization being circulated as potential voter initiatives, the qualifying process seems to have largely resolved the matter. One proposal, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, continues to meet the steps required to qualify for the ballot, and is expected to officially qualify shortly; while the other proposal, Bay State Repeal, the one that had been endorsed by the NORML affiliate in Massachusetts, MassCann/NORML, has failed to qualify. While not everyone previously involved with Bay State Repeal have agreed to support the remaining proposal, most have, suggesting the opposition in November will primarily come from the prohibitionists; not from disgruntled supporters of Bay State Repeal.

That willingness to accept a partial victory, in order to end prohibition, is the crucial element for success. Our friends in MA deserve our thanks for doing the right thing.

California

In California, the ultimate prize in the marijuana sweepstakes, and the state most of us presumed would be the first to fully legalize marijuana, the sheer size of the state has in the past resulted in several competing legalization proposals being advanced by different interest groups, and prohibition has continued in place, albeit a version tempered by the “anyone qualifies” medical marijuana system. The same potential was in play over the last year in CA, with as many as 8 different versions of legalization being filed with the Secretary of State, and no assurance that anyone would be willing to compromise.

But in fact, calmer heads prevailed this year in CA, with crucial leadership provided by Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and a consensus has now formed around a single proposal, the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Once the sponsors were willing to accept some revisions in the language, the other leading effort, Reform CA, which enjoyed the support of CA NORML, agreed to withdraw its initiative, and most of the principles of that effort have now endorsed the Newsom effort. And it now appears likely California voters will approve marijuana legalization in November of 2016.

Again, kudos to those who saw the big picture and were willing to accept some compromises in order to end prohibition.

Nevada

In Nevada, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol appears to have had a relatively unobstructed path to qualify for the ballot, without organized competition from other legalization supporters pushing their own version of legalization. That is a rare situation in the world of marijuana legalization today.

Arizona

Arizona may be the exception to the rule this year. While efforts were made to forge a general agreement on the terms of the legalization initiative, with early battles over whether to allow personal cultivation, there appears to exist a great deal of enmity between supporters of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, and those supporting a competing proposal being circulated by Arizonans for Mindful Regulations, seeking fewer limitations.

The differences may not seem terribly important from a distance, but both sides are digging in, with little indication anyone is willing to compromise. There have been some steps taken to bridge the two camps by local activists, including efforts by Arizona NORML, but the two sides appear far apart.

The sometimes heated rhetoric and tactics between the competing factions has the potential to undermine a successful legalization effort in Arizona. Because the vote in Arizona appears to be close, it is most important that those who support marijuana legalization set aside their differences and agree to get legalization approved in the state. There will be time down the road, once the arrests have stopped, to come back and improve and expand these initial legalization provisions.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

The 8 States That Should Legalize Marijuana in 2016

The 8 States That Should Legalize Marijuana in 2016

Beginning in 2012, four states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize marijuana. By this time next year, that number could well double, and then some. National polls now consistently show majorities in favor legalization, with a recent Gallup poll having 58% support—tied for the highest level in the poll’s history.

That doesn’t mean legalization is inevitable in any given state, as the case of Ohio earlier this month demonstrated. There, an initiative led by non-movement investors who sought monopolistic control of commercial pot cultivation got trounced despite spending millions of dollars.

But the Ohio result was probably a fluke, a convergence of a number of factors, including tone-deaf initiative organizers, a flawed initiative, a widely criticized mascot, and the fact that it was an off-off-year election with low voter turnout. There is no reason to believe that legalization initiatives likely next year in other states will be defeated just because the Ohio effort went down in flames.

At this point, it looks like there are six states likely to legalize weed through the initiative process next year, with those efforts at varying stages, and a couple more that could do it through the legislative process.

Here they are:

INITIATIVE STATES

ALREADY ON THE BALLOT

Nevada 

The legalization initiative from the Marijuana Policy Project-backed Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol qualified for the ballot last December. That means that by the time Election Day 2016 arrives, organizers will have had nearly two years to make their case to voters. Under state law, the legislature could have acted on the petitions and legalized weed, but it declined to do so, so now it goes direct to the voters. There are no recent state polls on legalization, but it had 54% support in 2013, and there is no reason to think it has declined since then.

PETITION DRIVES WELL ADVANCED

Arizona

The Marijuana Policy Project-backed Campaign to Legalize Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona announced last week that it had already collected 100,000 signatures for its legalization initiative. It needs to collect 150,000 valid signatures by next July to qualify for the ballot, appears well on the way to doing so, and says it is aiming for 230,000 raw signatures to have a healthy cushion. A June poll had support at 53%.

Maine

Once there were two competing initiative campaigns in the state, but now there is only one. The Marijuana Policy Project-backed Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has quit signature gathering for its legalization initiative and joined forces with Legalize Maine in support of its slightly looser legalization initiative. Both campaigns had gathered about 40,000 raw signatures each before coalescing. The Legalize Maine campaign will need 61,000 valid voter signatures to qualify, and it has until February 1 to get them.  That seems eminently doable, and if it makes the ballot, it should win: A poll in April had support for legalization at a whopping 65%.

Massachusetts

Unlike Maine, the Marijuana Policy Project has so far been unable to form a united front with local activists, so there are two ongoing legalization campaigns. The MPP-backed Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and its legalization initiative is vying with the homegrown Bay State Repeal and its legalization initiative. As in Maine, the local initiative is slightly looser. Earlier this month, the Campaign said it has already collected 100,000 signatures. It only needs 64,750 valid signatures to qualify, so it already has a nice cushion and the rest of this month to gather more. It’s not known how advanced the Bay State Repeal signature drive is, but it already looks like at least one legalization initiative will be on the ballot next year. Under state law, if an initiative has enough signatures, the legislature can then move to enact it. If the legislature doesn’t act, the campaign must then gather an additional 10,800 signatures to put it before the voters. One recent poll had support for legalization at only 41%, but it had a small sample size and large margin of error. Polls from 2014 had legalization winning by anywhere from six to 13 points, and the voters previously supported medical marijuana and decriminalization initiatives with a 63% vote.

Michigan

Another state with two competing campaigns, and the one that looks the iffiest in terms of qualifying for the ballot. Some 252,000 valid voter signatures are needed to qualify, and neither campaign is there yet. Backed by Republican business interests, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition said it had collected 200,000 signatures for its legalization initiative by the end of October before making a “strategic decision” to temporarily suspend petitioning. It has until the end of January to come up with more. Meanwhile, state activists have created the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee (MI Legalize) and are signature gathering around their own legalization initiative. Last week, they said they were 90,000 signatures short—although it that is just raw numbers, they will need substantially more to have a comfortable cushion—and they have until the end of December to get them. Both campaigns have money in the bank and are paying signature-gatherers.

STILL IN A CONFUSED MUDDLE

California

California should have been an almost sure there next year, and probably still is, but it is getting late in the game, and the evident divisions among legalization proponents are starting to make for some worried wondering. There are no fewer than 18 legalization initiatives in play (some various versions of the same initiative), most of which have little to no chance of coming up with the 365,000 signatures needed to qualify. State activists organized as the California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (ReformCA) thought they had the support of national reform organizations and associated pots of money for their initiative, but that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Instead, groups such as the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance seem to be throwing their support to an initiative sponsored by tech billionaire Sean Parker. Neither the latest version of the ReformCA initiative nor the Sean Parker initiative has been cleared for signature gathering. Both initiatives now face a ticking clock. Campaigns have six months to get those necessary signatures, but the real hard deadline is June 30. Initiatives must have been cleared for the ballot by then in order to make the November ballot. The Parker initiative will likely have the financial support to do an expedited signature-gathering campaign; whether ReformCA will remains to be seen. While the state-level polling is good—a June poll had support at a record 54%–this late disarray doesn’t bode well.

LEGISLATIVE STATES

Rhode Island

This year, the legislature took up a legalization bill only to see it held for further study by the Judiciary Committees in both chambers. Next year, it could actually move, and it would if the legislature listens to the voters. In an April poll, 57% said they would support a bill to tax and regulate marijuana.

Vermont

This is probably the best bet for the first state to legalize pot through the legislative process. The groundwork has been being laid for years, it has the support of key state political figures, including Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) and House Speaker Shap Smith (D), and legislative hearings on how—not whether—to legalize next year are already underway. The legislature failed to move legalization bills this year, but the stage is set for 2016.


This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.org and was first published here.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.