Archive for the ‘California’ category

The Marijuana Policy Project is Already Gearing Up for 2016

November 6th, 2014

Marijuana advocates made history with three huge Election Day victories in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. and are optimistic for what the future holds.

“The stage is now set for 2016, when measures to regulate marijuana like alcohol are expected to appear on ballots in at least five states,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which was instrumental in passing legalization in Colorado and bankrolled the successful campaign in Alaska.

The five states where MPP has already established committees to push ballot measures in 2016 are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. The measures will likely be similar to the Colorado model, just as the measures in Oregon and Alaska were.

MPP also plans to work to help make marijuana legal through state legislatures, rather than ballot measures. The states that we are focusing on include Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Hawaii, and Maryland.

Most importantly, the upcoming push to make marijuana legal in those states will undoubtedly draw on the lessons learned from the successful marijuana policy reform campaigns so far — which, according to Tvert, fall into two categories. The advocates in Alaska and Colorado focused more on diminishing the fears concerned with the potential harms of marijuana by comparing the substance to alcohol, while advocates in Oregon and Washington argued that making marijuana legal is the safer alternative to marijuana prohibition.

“Our goal from the beginning was to get this message across that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol so that when that last month comes around, and the opponents are trying to scare people away from marijuana by saying it’s so dangerous, their reaction will be to say ‘yeah, but it’s less harmful than alcohol,’” Tvert stated.

Ultimately, by the looks of Tuesday’s election results, marijuana prohibition is on its way out. Moreover, momentum for sensible marijuana policy reform is growing across the country.

MPP Files Committee in California to Support 2016 Initiative to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana

September 24th, 2014

The Marijuana Policy Project filed a committee with the California Secretary of State’s Office today to support a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use.

The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, will start raising funds immediately to help place a measure on the ballot.

According to a statement from MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia:

Rob Kampia

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

The announcement has generated quite a bit of media interest, which began with a mention in a Washington Post story summarizing the statewide efforts currently underway to end marijuana prohibition.

It noted MPP has filed committees in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Nevada for 2016, and it plans to focus on making marijuana legal through state legislatures in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont over the next few years.

MPP’s Mason Tvert on ‘Fox & Friends’ with Bishop Ron Allen: Part 2

September 9th, 2014

Here is the second debate between MPP’s Mason Tvert and prohibitionist Bishop Ron Allen on Fox & Friends, as promised.

MPP’s Mason Tvert Debates Bishop Ron Allen on ‘Fox & Friends’

September 5th, 2014

On Thursday, MPP’s Mason Tvert appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss a law that was recently passed in Berkeley, California that directs medical marijuana dispensaries to donate a portion of their medicine to low-income patients. This idea did not sit well with noted prohibitionist Bishop Ron Allen:

Mason will be back on Fox & Friends this Saturday morning, where he will reportedly continue his discussion with Bishop Allen.

California Medical Marijuana Regulation Bill Dies On Suspended Session

August 18th, 2014

Thursday marked the end of SB 1262 in California, as the Assembly Appropriations Committee failed to take a vote on the measure before deadline. Unfortunately, this means that another legislative session has passed without the enactment of sensible statewide regulations and clearer legal protections for medical marijuana providers. However, while SB 1262 was ostensibly written to address this widely agreed upon issue, the most recent version had a number of flaws that ultimately led to MPP opposing passage.

Perhaps the most glaring flaw of the legislation was ceding regulatory power to the Department of Consumer Protection, an agency that never expressed any interest in being entrusted with this important task. In fact, the department failed to take part in a single stakeholder meeting. While we are certainly disappointed that the legislature failed to pass a regulatory bill, we are relieved that they did not pass one that would have caused more harm than good.

Bill to Regulate California’s Medical Marijuana Businesses Continues in Assembly

July 15th, 2014

A bill that would establish regulations and protections for a wide range of medical marijuana businesses in California continues to make progress in the legislature. Sen. Lou Correa’s bill SB 1262 recently emerged from the Assembly Public Safety Committee, and will next be considered in the Appropriations Committee in August.

Sen. Correa’s bill has been heavily amended no less than five times since it was introduced in February. Many of the changes in the past few months have been big improvements, but some provisions remain troubling. For instance, the current version of the bill requires costly business license fees, saddles local governments with primary responsibility to enforce the law, and gives wide latitude to law enforcement officials to prohibit businesses.

We have been told it is too early to know if these requirements will change as negotiations among many different groups continue at a rapid pace. The only thing that is certain is that the bill remains very much a work in progress. For a list of MPP’s concerns with the current draft of the bill, click here.

 

Study Says Medical Marijuana May Help Alleviate Pain in Sickle Cell Patients

June 13th, 2014

A University of Minnesota research group, led by chief researcher Kalpna Gupta, has found that the cannabinoids in marijuana can help treat pain caused by sickle cell disease, reports Minnesota Daily. The group has been running tests on mice and it has yielded good outcomes from those tests. The study says the next step is to move onto human trials; however, it is running into issues with Minnesota’s laws.

In order to take this next step, the research will be moved to California, where medical marijuana became legal almost 20 years ago. Minnesota, on the other hand, has a stricter medical marijuana law that will take effect next summer. This research may actually affect the Minnesota law, however, by providing evidence that could help add sickle cell disease to the qualifying health conditions for the program.

The conditions currently approved by Minnesota law include cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, and seizures. The Department of Health in Minnesota is presently creating a task force to investigate the therapeutic effects of marijuana. Dr. Gupta’s research is being funded by the National Institute of Health’s grant, and is intended to test the effects of vaporized marijuana on 35 sickle cell disease patients at the beginning of July. Minnesota’s medical marijuana laws are some of the strictest in the nation, but the research Dr. Gupta is doing may be able to help more patients find relief.

Congress Votes to End War on Medical Marijuana

May 29th, 2014

You read that correctly — Congress just voted to end the federal government’s war on medical marijuana!

During a debate regarding a Justice Department funding bill, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a longtime MPP ally, offered an amendment intended to block DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries. It passed by a surprisingly wide margin — 219-189. The amendment will not become law until it is signed by the president, but we’re well on our way.

MPP played a key role in building support for this measure, and we couldn’t have done it without our supporters.

We have had a lot of victories since MPP was founded in 1995, but this is one of the biggest — not just in the organization’s history, but in the history of the marijuana policy reform movement.

Rep. Rohrabacher with MPP's Rob Kampia and Dan Riffle
Rep. Rohrabacher with MPP’s Rob Kampia and Dan Riffle

We worked with Congressman Rohrabacher and former Congressman Maurice Hinchey on this amendment for more than a decade, and our lobbying presence in Congress has never been stronger. This year alone, we met with staffers from more than 100 congressional offices, as well as dozens of members in person.  With this victory, even more doors will be open to us in the future.

 

Two Important California Bills See Positive Change

May 16th, 2014
Lou Correa
Sen. Lou Correa

In California this week, SB 1262, introduced by Sen. Lou Correa, would create a long-overdue regulatory structure for medical cannabis cultivators and dispensaries, including collectives and cooperatives. The original bill draft contained many offensive provisions, including unreasonable and possibly unlawful requirements on physicians. Fortunately, Sen. Correa removed nearly all the troubling provisions and we now have a largely workable solution.

While medical marijuana patients have protections under state law, the citizens who serve them lack a regulatory framework. This leaves them vulnerable to aggressive federal law enforcement efforts to undermine the state program. In addition, regulation can help protect the environment, avoid unauthorized access, and reduce incidents of crime and violence. After the amendments were made, the bill passed out of committee with a unanimous vote, and will be heard next by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Another bill died in committee. AB 2500 would have made everyone driving with 2 or more ng/mL of active THC in his or her system guilty of DUI. This unscientific and discriminatory bill failed to get sufficient votes to advance any further.

Both of these developments benefit medical cannabis patients in California!

 

Blake Griffin Endorses Medical Marijuana Use in the NBA

April 16th, 2014
Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin, LA Clippers

In an interview with Rolling Stone yesterday, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers voiced his support of medical marijuana use to treat pain in the NBA.  Currently, the NBA has strict penalties for drug use, which typically lead to suspensions and fines. It was only in 2011 that the NBA stopped testing for marijuana use in the off-season, but now that marijuana is in the limelight, its place in the NBA, as a form of medical treatment for pain, has come into question.

Griffin was asked:

The NFL might let players use medical marijuana to treat pain. If you had a vote, would the NBA do the same?

It doesn’t really affect me, but so many guys would probably benefit from it and not take as many painkillers, which have worse long-term effects. So I would vote yes. I just think it makes sense.

 Griffin joins the chorus of other outspoken athletes like Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks, who said earlier this year, “I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it.”

Like any professional sport, the need for painkillers is a part of the game, and, as Griffin pointed out, the harmful long-term effects of some painkillers makes medical marijuana use an alluring alternative. Even the World Anti-Doping Agency and the UFC have begun by changing their thresholds of permissible amounts of marijuana.