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A survey release this week by Public Policy Polling showed that 66% of voters in the

Voters overwhelming approved Initiative 71 in 2014, which made marijuana legal in the nation's capital, but Congress passed a budget rider that prevents the implementation of regulated commercial cultivation and retail establishments. Provisions related to personal possession and limited home cultivation were unaffected by the law and are currently legal in D.C.

This poll shows that the vast majority of D.C. voters would support the mayor using reserve funds to implement a system to tax and regulate marijuana. This would not only show that D.C. rejects Congressional interference with the will of the voters, but also bring the illicit marijuana market out of the shadows and reap millions in tax revenue.

In addition, 61% of voters are in favor of giving adults a safe and lawful place to consume marijuana outside their homes. Supporters including MPP met with the mayor last week, and she said she was open to working with us and our allies on the D.C. Council to move forward on a compromise that would end the blanket ban on use outside the home, currently set to expire on April 13. This will help restore the rights that D.C. voters supported when they voted yes on Initiative 71.

The post D.C. Voters Want Mayor to Work Around Congressional Ban on Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol appeared first on MPP Blog.

D.C. Voters Want Mayor to Work Around Congressional Ban on ...


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The Vermont Senate Committee on Judiciary approved a bill (4-1) on Friday that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate marijuana for adult use.

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, the new law would not take effect until January 2018.

The bill will now go to the Senate Committee on Finance for consideration. Please visit the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana to find out how you can help.

The post Vermont Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Regulation Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

Vermont Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Regulation Bill



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Two bills that would improve Kansas' marijuana policies have passed the House and are moving in the Senate.

The first bill, now called SB 147, would permit patients with seizures to access low-THC cannabis, called medical hemp preparations in the bill. While it is not a full medical marijuana law and would leave many patients behind, the bill proposes a workable system to provide immediate relief to some seriously ill Kansans. In addition, by passing the House, it has advanced much further than any medical marijuana bill ever has in Kansas.

The second bill, which is currently designated as the Senate Sub. for HB 2049, would reduce the penalty for first, second, and third-time marijuana possession. A first offense would be punishable by a maximum of six months, instead of one year, in jail, and a second offense would no longer be a felony, removing many of the associated collateral consequences. The Senate combined the marijuana-related provisions with another bill that increases penalties for burglary, on which MPP does not take a position.

If you are a Kansas resident, please urge your senators to support common sense reform.

The post Marijuana Policy Bills Progressing in Kansas appeared first on MPP Blog.

Marijuana Policy Bills Progressing in Kansas


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The

In the ad, titled “Time to End Prohibition (Again),” former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney points out that “marijuana prohibition has caused a lot of the same problems” as Alcohol Prohibition. The ad ends with Cheney urging viewers to contact their state senators and tell them, “It's time to end prohibition and start regulating marijuana in Vermont.”

The ad began airing statewide on Tuesday and will appear on WCAX, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC through Sunday.

The post Vermont Coalition Launches Ad Campaign to Support Regulating Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

Vermont Coalition Launches Ad Campaign to Support Regulating Marijuana


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In a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald released Wednesday, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senate and House members urged the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow VA doctors to write medical marijuana recommendations to veterans in accordance with state laws.

The letter comes four days before the expiration of a directive that prohibits VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana, even in states that have made it legal.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

The Congressional members, led by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the Senate and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in the House, say the current policy “disincentivizes doctors and patients from being honest with each other,” noting, “It is not in the veterans' best interest for the VA to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.”

“Congress has taken initial steps to alleviate this conflict in law and we will continue to work toward this goal,” the senators and representatives wrote. “However, you are in a position to make this change when the current VHA directive expires at the end of this month. We ask that you act to ensure that our veterans' access to care is not compromised and that doctors and patients are allowed to have honest discussions about treatment options.”

The letter also highlights the “sea change in the legal framework surrounding marijuana in the United States” since the directive was issued in 2011. Comprehensive medical marijuana laws have been adopted in 23 states and Washington, D.C., and Congress has twice approved appropriations amendments intended to prevent the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana programs.

The post Congress Members Urge VA to Change Medical Marijuana Policy appeared first on MPP Blog.

Congress Members Urge VA to Change Medical Marijuana Policy



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Councilwoman Susan Guidry

Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. CST, the New Orleans City Council will consider whether to pass a new bill that reduces the penalties for possession of marijuana. Councilwoman Susan Guidry's bill calls for law enforcement to give a verbal warning instead of an arrest on a first offense marijuana possession charge. The council chamber meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, January 27, will take place at:

1300 Perdido Street, Second Floor West
New Orleans, LA 70112

In addition to turning up to show support at the hearing, let your council members know you support Councilwoman Guidry's bill by sending them an email letting them know where you stand on this important issue.

The post New Orleans City Council to Consider Reducing Marijuana Penalties appeared first on MPP Blog.

New Orleans City Council to Consider Reducing Marijuana Penalties


Last week, a federal court ruling struck a blow against censorship directed at marijuana policy reform advocates at Iowa State University. The case, brought by two students with the university's chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), was heralded as a major victory by the plaintiffs.

…the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa issued a permanent injunction barring Iowa State University (ISU) administrators from using a trademark policy to prevent the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML ISU) from printing t-shirts depicting a marijuana leaf. Students Erin Furleigh and Paul Gerlich, both former presidents of the group, sued ISU in July 2014 as part of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education's (FIRE's) Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.

Because ISU had rejected the student group's t-shirts “due to the messages they expressed” in an effort to “maintain favor with Iowa political figures,” the court found that ISU engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.

The court also denied the defense of qualified immunity to the named defendants, including ISU President Steven Leath and Senior Vice President Warren Madden, meaning that they may be held personally liable for violating Furleigh and Gerlich's First Amendment rights. In so ruling, the court found that “a reasonable person would understand that Defendants' actions treaded on Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights of political expression and association.”

Senior District Judge James Gritzner, who issued the ruling, observed that “[t]he development of First Amendment doctrine in the university context has repeatedly affirmed that student groups may not be denied benefits on the basis of their espoused views.” After reviewing the record, the court concluded that “Defendants took action specifically directed at NORML ISU based on their views and the political reaction to those views so that Defendants could maintain favor with Iowa political figures.”

In their original complaint, the students detailed how the university censored the group's t-shirts based on their marijuana-related messaging and imagery, removed NORML ISU's advisor, and implemented new guidelines for using ISU's trademark in order to restrict NORML ISU's speech. And in a January 2015 ruling, the court rejected every argument ISU made in its initial attempt to have the case dismissed.

You can view the full press release here.

The post Iowa State University NORML Chapter Wins Censorship Case appeared first on MPP Blog.

Iowa State University NORML Chapter Wins Censorship Case


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This Thursday, the will be hosting a lobby day to urge lawmakers to support ending marijuana prohibition in the First State. Residents who want to see real marijuana policy reform should set up an appointment with your elected representatives to let them know why you think it is time Delaware joins Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in making marijuana legal for adults.

Unlike the four states that already tax and regulate marijuana, Delawareans cannot vote on ballot initiatives to change existing laws. This is why it is so important that you make your voice heard.

Register here to lobby on Thursday, January 28 in Dover.

We will begin with a training session with John Flaherty, Director of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government, who has 20 years of experience as a lobbyist. He will guide us through best practices, helping you to become a more effective advocate.

If you can't make it to speak up for sensible marijuana policy in person, you can send your legislators a quick message using our automated system.

The post Delaware Supporters to Lobby State Lawmakers Thursday appeared first on MPP Blog.

Delaware Supporters to Lobby State Lawmakers Thursday



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Assemblyman Joe Lachance

Now that medical marijuana cards are finally being issued to qualifying patients in New Hampshire, one lawmaker is working to make sure others who could benefit are not left behind. On Thursday, Assemblyman Joe Lachance introduced a bill that would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions.

Al Jazeera America reports:

The proposed legislation comes as New Hampshire grapples with an opioid and heroin addiction and overdose crisis. Medical marijuana advocates argue that better access to cannabis would offer an alternative means of pain relief to people now using painkillers or heroin. In 2015 the state's medical examiner attributed 385 deaths to opiates, almost double the 192 fatalities in 2013, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

Also, adding PTSD to the list of illnesses approved for cannabis treatment could provide another option to people who've found no relief with standard anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication, advocates say.

Joe Lachance, a Republican state assemblyman who co-sponsored the PTSD measure, is one of the 62 medical marijuana cardholders in the state of 1.6 million people. A military veteran and former police officer, Lachance said he suffers from chronic pain and PTSD, ailments only marijuana has helped ease. He also said marijuana helped him kick an opiate habit.

The post New Hampshire Bill to Add PTSD as Qualifying Condition Introduced appeared first on MPP Blog.

New Hampshire Bill to Add PTSD as Qualifying Condition Introduced


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Last week, MPP and a coalition of allies began moving forward with a campaign to put a medical marijuana initiative before Ohio voters on the 2016 ballot!

There are still many factors to be worked out, but given the overwhelming support for allowing safe access for patients in the Buckeye State, we are confident that this issue will begin gaining momentum very soon.

This initiative and campaign will be very different from the controversial and ultimately unsuccessful initiative to make marijuana legal in Ohio in 2015.

State lawmakers may also be considering medical marijuana legislation, and there is currently a task force that will be touring the state to speak with medical professionals, patients, and experts in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned for more details!

The post MPP to Support Medical Marijuana Initiative in Ohio for 2016 appeared first on MPP Blog.

MPP to Support Medical Marijuana Initiative in Ohio for 2016


Arizona's constitution allows the people themselves to pass laws by initiative. After years of legislative meddling in the people's laws, Arizonans approved the Voter Protection Act (VPA) to protect their laws from legislative interference. Despite the VPA, legislators have passed multiple measures to undermine the medical marijuana program that the people of Arizona voted for in 2010 — and they're at it again.

A series of bills proposed by the legislature would limit Proposition 203, which made medical marijuana legal in the state, and run afoul of the medical marijuana law and the VPA:

HB 206, introduced by Rep. Kelly Townsend, would ban the use of medical marijuana by pregnant women, inappropriately inserting the legislature into the doctor/patient relationship; and

HB 2404 and 2405, introduced by Rep. Vince Leach, would limit where marijuana can be grown and increase some patients' fees.

If that wasn't bad enough, now Rep. Bob Thorpe has introduced a resolution (HCR 2023) to gut the VPA and allow the legislature to change ballot initiatives passed by the voters in ways that are contrary to the purpose of the initiative.

An additional bill, HB 2019, introduced by Rep. Jay Lawrence, would have limited access to medical marijuana by restricting the types of medical professionals who can recommend it. Thanks to hundreds of patients and supporters calling and emailing Rep. Lawrence in opposition the bill, he decided to withdraw it, saying that he had not done enough research and would not support similar legislation in the future.

If you are an Arizona resident, please ask your lawmakers to stop interfering with medical marijuana!

The post Arizona Lawmakers Are Trying to Restrict Medical Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

Arizona Lawmakers Are Trying to Restrict Medical Marijuana