Search Results for: Marijuana Policy Project

Kaine Introduces Bill To Allow Veterans To Access Medical Marijuana Through The VA

VIRGINIA: U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, joined Senator Brian Schatz to introduce legislation to allow doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to discuss and potentially recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states that have established medical marijuana programs. The bill will create a temporary, five-year safe harbor protection for veterans who use medical marijuana and their doctors and direct the VA to research the effects of medical marijuana on veterans in pain as well as the relationship between medical marijuana programs and a potential reduction in opioid abuse among veterans.

“Right now, in the 33 states where it is legal, doctors may recommend medical marijuana to help eligible patients. Our bill ensures that doctors who work for the Department of Veterans Affairs can discuss and potentially recommend medical marijuana to their patients that are veterans in accordance with state law. To do otherwise amounts to unfairly punishing the men and women who served in our military. The bill would also take an important step in further exploring whether medical marijuana can be a viable tool to help veterans in pain and reduce opioid abuse,” Kaine said.

The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act is supported by the American Academy of Pain Medicine, American Pain Society, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Veterans Medical Cannabis Association, NORML, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Americans for Safe Association, Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance, and Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

“Our members have spoken loud and clear on this issue,” said Tom Porter, Legislative Director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  “Eighty-three percent of respondents to our recently-released member survey approved of cannabis use for medicinal purposes. With such overwhelming support, we need to be removing barriers to care for veterans, not maintaining them. IAVA applauds Sen. Schatz for introducing the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act to do just that.”

“When nearly one in four veterans report that they are consuming cannabis for therapeutic purposes, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would provide crucial medical and civil protections for the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve this country. It is unconscionable that these brave individuals who stepped up to protect our nation’s freedoms would be treated as criminals when they return home simply for treating their medical ailments with a safe and effective option under state law,” said Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML. “We applaud and appreciate the leadership by Senator Schatz in putting forward this legislation.”

Founder Of Nation’s First Black-Owned Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Keynote “The Business Of Cannabis”

Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 atEmmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY

NEW YORK:  Chanda Macias, MBA, PhD, a Washington, D.C.-based cell biologist and patient advocate who founded National Holistic Healing Center and Chairwoman and acting CEO of Women Grow, LLC, will be keynote speaker at a free day-long conference aiming to help New Yorkers of color to join the ranks of those who own legal cannabis and hemp businesses.

Elected officials including New York State Attorney General Tish James will join medical clinicians, grassroots community and health organizers, attorneys and cannabis/hemp entrepreneurs among the line-up of national, regional and local expert speakers and workshop facilitators for “The Business of Cannabis,” 9:30  a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, February 23, 2019, at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn.  Acquiring a cultivation or dispensary license, careers in cannabis/hemp, equity, social justice and policy reform, parenting and the role cannabis/hemp in medicine, self-care and community wellness are among workshop topics that will be discussed at the one- day event. Women Grow, Minorities for Medical Marijuana, CannagatherMinority Cannabis Business AssociationCannaclusive and Cannabis Cultural Association have partnered with Emmanuel Baptist Church to bring this education to the community.

Featured cannabis and hemp experts from across the country include the renowned Knox family of American Cannabinoid Clinics, who are pioneers of integrative cannabis medicine; Jesce and Jeannette Horton of NuLeaf Project; Christine De La Rosa of The People’s Dispensary;  Dr. Oludare Odumosu of Ilera Healthcare; Dasheeda Dawson of MJM Strategy; and Amy Holdener of Citva.

The conference aims to amplify and help fix what is a clear problem: Too few people of color are critically involved in what is, by turns, a growing and profitable cannabis/hemp marketplace and a healthcare sector struggling to ensure that patients of color are served by culturally competent cannabis/hemp vendors.

“The cannabis industry must become a more equal and inclusive business space. But this cannot happen without connecting directly with the people in communities of color,” says Rosalind “Roz” McCarthy, founder and CEO of Minorities for Medical Marijuana.

Says Gia Morón, executive vice president for Women Grow: “This is a critical time for women and people of color to learn about the opportunities in this multi-billion-dollar industry.”

And the Rev. Anthony Trufant, an author, nationally noted church development consultant and senior pastor of Brooklyn’s 4,000-member Emmanuel Baptist Church: “We see the injustice and irony of having so many people of color criminally charged, incarcerated and in court because of what, by current laws, are often petty marijuana-related crimes.”

He continued: “As New York’s governor joins the chorus of elected officials and others wanting to totally legalize marijuana, the faith community must coalesce with strategists, experts and entrepreneurs at the forefront of helping people of color launch cannabis and hemp businesses that might ease sick people’s pains while generating income for owners of these enterprises.”

Emmanuel Baptist Church is located at 279 Lafayette Avenue (corner of St James Place) in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.  Please visit Eventbrite.com for free tickets.

Washington Liquor And Cannabis Board Issues First Marijuana Research License

wslcb

WASHINGTON: The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) has issued the state’s first license to produce, process and possess marijuana for research purposes. The license was issued to Verda Bio Research in Seattle, who are conducting research on cannabinoid-based therapeutics.

“This is an important milestone for Washington’s marijuana industry,” said Director Rick Garza. “We’re hopeful that the research will assist policy makers as we grapple with this emerging industry.”

Research licensees are permitted to produce, process and possess marijuana for limited research purposes: to test chemical potency and composition levels; conduct clinical investigations of marijuana-derived drug products; conduct research on the efficacy and safety of administering marijuana as part of medical treatment; and to conduct genomic or agricultural research. Applicants are investigated and must meet the same criteria as other marijuana businesses including security, distance from restricted areas, traceability, etc.

In addition to the above requirements applications are also vetted through an independent third party scientific reviewer. The role of the reviewer is to assess the project’s quality, study design, value, and/or impact. They also review whether applicants have the appropriate personnel, expertise, facilities/infrastructure, funding, and human/animal/other federal approvals in place to successfully conduct the project.

Research projects must pass both the scientific review and licensing requirements before the application is approved.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Introduces Bill To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation Wednesday that would end the federal government’s prohibition of marijuana. The proposal is co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

The bill, titled the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, leaving its legal status to the states, while maintaining the federal government’s authority to prevent trafficking of marijuana from states that have legalized it to those that have not. It would also provide grants to state and local governments to develop or expand expungement or record-sealing programs for marijuana possession convictions, and it would direct marijuana tax money to the Small Business Administration to provide loans to marijuana businesses owned and controlled by women and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The proposal also allocates funds to marijuana-related public health and safety research. The full bill is available here.

Matt Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project commented, “This proposal is yet another sign that Congress is moving toward a major shift in U.S. marijuana policy. Senate leaders from both parties have now signaled their support for ending prohibition at the federal level and adopting a system that respects state laws regulating marijuana for medical and adult use. The debate is transitioning from whether marijuana should be legalized to how it should be legalized. There are still hurdles to overcome in Congress, just as there are for any other issue, but things are clearly headed in the right direction. A strong and growing majority of Americans think it is time to end marijuana prohibition, and states are moving quickly to develop their own marijuana policies. Members of Congress do not want to find themselves on the wrong side of history — or their constituents.”

Federal Government Reports Teen Marijuana Use In Colorado Still Has NOT Increased Since Legalization

Five years after Colorado voters decided to regulate marijuana for adult use, rates of current and lifetime use among high school students remain relatively unchanged and on par with national averages

COLORADO: A new federal report shows rates of teen marijuana use in Colorado have still not increased since voters decided to end marijuana prohibition in 2012 and start regulating it similarly to alcohol for adult use.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found 19.6 percent of Colorado students are currently using marijuana (compared to 19.8 percent nationwide), down from 21.2 percent in 2015 and 22 percent in 2011, the year before voters approved Amendment 64. The rate of lifetime use dropped to 35.5 percent in 2017 (compared to 35.6 percent nationwide), down from 38 percent in 2015 and 39.5 percent in 2011.

The Colorado and nationwide data for 2017 are available at the CDC website. The CDC released the nationwide YRBS data late last week, and it appears to have released the state-level data sometime this week.

Statement from Marijuana Policy Project spokesperson Mason Tvert, who co-directed the campaign in support of Amendment 64:

“After five years of marijuana being legal for adults in Colorado, government surveys continue to find no increase in usage rates among high school students. This is very welcome news for Colorado, and it should be particularly welcome news for those who opposed the state’s legalization for fear it would lead to an explosion in teen use. Hopefully it will allay opponents’ concerns in other states where voters or lawmakers are considering proposals to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Colorado is proof that you can prevent teen marijuana use without arresting thousands of responsible adult marijuana consumers every year. Rather than debating whether marijuana should be legal for adults, let’s focus on how we can regulate it and control it to make it less available to teens.”

Gardner, Warren, Joyce and Blumenauer Unveil Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation to Protect State Marijuana Policies

Forty-Six States, Washington D.C., Two Territories, and a Number of Tribes Have Legalized Marijuana in Some Form

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Representatives David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) today introduced the bicameral, bipartisan Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (STATES Act) to ensure that each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders. The bill also extends these protections to Washington D.C, U.S. territories, and federally recognized tribes, and contains common-sense guardrails to ensure that states, territories, and tribes regulating marijuana do so safely.

Forty-six states currently have laws permitting or decriminalizing marijuana or marijuana-based products – and Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and a number of tribes have similar laws. As states developed their own approaches to marijuana enforcement, the Department of Justice issued guidance to safeguard these state actions and ensure practical use of limited law enforcement resources. However, this guidance was withdrawn earlier this year, creating legal uncertainty, threatening public health and safety, and undermining state regulatory regimes.

“In 2012, Coloradans legalized marijuana at the ballot box and the state created an apparatus to regulate the legal marijuana industry.  But because of the one-size-fits-all federal prohibition, state decisions like this put Colorado and other states at odds with the federal government,” said Senator Gardner. “The federal government is closing its eyes and plugging its ears while 46 states have acted.  The bipartisan STATES Act fixes this problem once and for all by taking a states’ rights approach to the legal marijuana question. The bipartisan, commonsense bill ensures the federal government will respect the will of the voters – whether that is legalization or prohibition – and not interfere in any states’ legal marijuana industry.”

“Outdated federal marijuana laws have perpetuated our broken criminal justice system, created barriers to research, and hindered economic development,” said Senator Warren. “States like Massachusetts have put a lot of work into implementing common sense marijuana regulations – and they have the right to enforce their own marijuana policies. The federal government needs to get out of the business of outlawing marijuana.”

“We should trust the people of the states, like Ohio, who have voted to implement responsible common-sense regulations and requirements for the use, production, and sale of cannabis,”said Representative Joyce. “If the people of these states have decided to provide help for those veterans and others suffering from pain and other health issues, we should allow them access without government interference.”

“For too long the senseless prohibition of marijuana has devastated communities, disproportionately impacting poor Americans and communities of color. Not to mention, it’s also wasted resources and stifled critical medical research,” said Representative Blumenauer. “It’s past time to put the power back in the hands of the people. Congress must right this wrong.”

Ignoring the ability of states, territories, and tribes to determine for themselves what type of marijuana regulation works best comes with real costs. Legitimate businesses that comply with state laws are blocked from access to basic banking services. Illicit markets often spring up and local law enforcement must divert resources needed elsewhere. Thousands of people are prosecuted and locked up in our criminal justice system. Qualified scientists and state public health departments struggle to conduct basic and epidemiological research or spur medical advances, and the fundamental nature of state and tribal sovereignty is violated. As more states, territories, and tribes thoughtfully consider updates to marijuana regulations, often through voter-initiated referendums, it is critical that Congress take immediate steps to safeguard their right to do so by passing the STATES Act.

The legislation has been endorsed by organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Safe Access, Americans for Tax Reform, the Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign for Liberty, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cooperative Credit Union Association, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Institute for Liberty, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Massachusetts Bankers Association, the Maine Credit Union League, the Mountain West Credit Union Association, the National Cannabis Bar Association, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the New Federalism Fund,NORML, the Northwest Credit Union Association, R Street, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

The STATES Act:

  • Amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so that – as long as states and tribes comply with a few basic protections – its provisions no longer apply to any person acting in compliance with State or tribal laws relating to marijuana activities.
  • Clearly states that compliant transactions are not trafficking and do not result in proceeds of an unlawful transaction.
  • Removes industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances under the CSA.
  • The following federal criminal provisions under the CSA continue to apply:
    • Prohibits endangering human life while manufacturing marijuana.
    • Prohibits employment of persons under age 18 in drug operations.
  • Prohibits the distribution of marijuana at transportation safety facilities such as rest areas and truck stops.
  • Prohibits the distribution or sale of marijuana to persons under the age of 21 other than for medical purposes.

A fact sheet about the legislation is available here, and the full bill text is available here.

Connecticut House Appropriations Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill

CONNECTICUT: The Joint Committee on Appropriations approved a bill that would legalize and regulate marijuana for adults in Connecticut on Thursday, potentially setting it up for floor consideration before the end of this year’s legislative session.

regulate marijuanaHB 5394, which was introduced by the committee, would task the commissioners of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Consumer Protection and Revenue Services with developing regulations for possession and retail sales of marijuana for adults 21 and older. More details will be added to the bill as it moves forward over the coming weeks.

“This committee vote reiterates what most Connecticut residents already know: it is time to make marijuana legal for adults,” said Becky Dansky, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The discussions that have taken place in the legislature this year have provided more than enough information to effectively move forward with legalization. Connecticut should stop punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol, and it has an opportunity to regulate marijuana before it starts losing tax revenue to other states in the region that have already started this process.”

There are nine states that have made marijuana legal for adults, as well as the District of Columbia. Neighboring Massachusetts is in the process of implementing its regulated marijuana market, and in nearby New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has made legalizing and regulating marijuana a priority this year.

poll conducted by Sacred Heart University in October 2017 showed that 71% of Connecticut residents support regulating and taxing marijuana for adults.

 

Cannabis Policy Reform Advocates Release Report Card Grading Candidates for Governor in Maryland

MARYLAND: The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) released a voter guide Monday that grades Maryland gubernatorial candidates strictly on their positions and statements about cannabis policy. The report contains letter grades for each person running in Maryland’s Democratic Primary for governor in June and is based on answers to a questionnaire MPP sent to candidates, bill sponsorship, and their public statements regarding cannabis. The full report can be viewed here.

“There are real differences among the Democratic candidates when it comes to marijuana policy, from making a plan for legalizing marijuana a significant part of their campaign platform to declining to declare support for legalization at all,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “In gubernatorial and other races across the nation, candidates are increasingly realizing that regulating marijuana is a winning issue. We hope that this guide will help inform the voters as they make their choice here in the June 26 democratic primary or in the general election.”

Sixty-four percent of likely Maryland voters support making cannabis legal for adults, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland Poll conducted in September 2016.

In February, state lawmakers introduced bills to regulate cannabis for adults. If approved by 60% of both chambers of the Maryland Legislature, the bill would place a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot that would make possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis legal for adults 21 years of age and older and require the state to establish regulations and taxation for a legal cannabis market, as well as to ensure diversity in the cannabis industry. The bill to refer the issue to the voters could not be vetoed by the governor.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have made cannabis possession legal for adults, and eight of those states regulate and tax cannabis similarly to alcohol. Bills to make cannabis legal have been introduced in 20 states this year, including Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Michigan voters will likely be able to support a similar initiative on the November 2018 ballot.

 

FBI Reports More Than 653,000 Arrests For Marijuana Offenses In 2016

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  An estimated 653,249 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana in 2016, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report. This means one person was arrested for marijuana approximately every 48 seconds on average in the United States.

The full report is available here:  (Note: Marijuana-specific data was not published online but is available upon request.)

“Arresting and citing over half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty,” said Morgan Fox, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested.”

There are currently eight states that regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol for adults, four of which voted to do so in November 2016. Marijuana possession is also legal for adults in the District of Columbia. Twenty-three states and D.C. considered legislation in 2017 to regulate marijuana, including in Vermont where the legislature approved such a measure before the governor vetoed it.

“Regulating marijuana for adults creates jobs, generates tax revenue, protects consumers, and takes money away from criminals,” Fox continued. “It is time for the federal government and the rest of the states to stop ruining peoples’ lives and enact sensible marijuana policies.”

NY Department Of Health Proposes Regulations That Would Expand Medical Marijuana Program

NEW YORK: The Department of Health just announced the issuance of new proposed regulations that would make changes to the state’s medical marijuana program to improve access. Among other things, they would reduce some of the onerous security requirements for registered organizations, shorten the length of the medical marijuana course certifying practitioners must take from four hours to two, and allow additional types of medical marijuana products to be sold.

New York’s medical marijuana program has been criticized by the Marijuana Policy Project and patient advocates as unnecessarily restrictive, and initial patient registration numbers were very low compared to other state medical marijuana programs. The Department of Health has made several changes to the program since it issued a report in August 2016, including adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition and allowing registered nurses and physician’s assistants to recommended medical marijuana.

The proposed regulatory changes can be viewed here.

Lawmakers have also been working to improve the medical marijuana program this session. In June, the Legislature passed a bill to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition. Gov. Andrew Cuomo must still sign the bill in order for it to become law.