Archive for the ‘vermont’ category

Rand Corporation to Consult on Marijuana Study in Vermont

July 21st, 2014
Governor Peter Shumlin
Governor Peter Shumlin

Beginning this week, the Rand Corporation will send representatives to Vermont to work with the state’s Secretary of Administration on a study of the effects of taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol, the Manchester Journal reports.This research was mandated by an amendment to a bill that made several improvements to Vermont’s medical marijuana law. Vermont will be funding the initial part of the study, paying Rand $20,000, with up to $100,000 in private donations coming from the non-profit organization GiveWell. Rand Corporation is a non-partisan organization with no official position on marijuana legalization.

Governor Peter Shumlin, Commissioner Keith Flynn of the Department of Safety, and other top officials have expressed interest in learning more about how marijuana regulation would impact Vermont. State Senator David Zuckerman, who sponsored a marijuana regulation bill this year, said he was enthusiastic about the study process: “I think the study will help with legislators and the public who inherently think it’s a good idea but want evidence they can hold up to show people.” Matt Simon, MPP’s New England political director, said, “The narrative from Colorado has been ‘so far, so good.’ The sky clearly hasn’t fallen.” The report is due to be completed by January and lawmakers hope that it will lead to an informed debate on marijuana policy in the coming legislative session.

Vermont’s Medical Marijuana Improvement Bill Takes Effect

July 1st, 2014

The provisions of SB 247 took effect today, moving Vermont’s marijuana policies yet another step forward. This new law eliminates the cap of 1,000 patients who may access dispensaries, allows naturopaths to certify patients, and allows dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients.

But that’s not all: Legislators also authorized a study of whether post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be added as a qualifying condition, along with a study of how marijuana legalization and regulation would impact Vermont.

It’s great to see that legislators are responding to the will of voters, who strongly support ending marijuana prohibition. A recent Castleton poll commissioned by MPP found that 57% of Vermonters support regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol. Only 34% said they were opposed.

But it will take more than a majority to get this passed into law in the next session. MPP is preparing to embark on a statewide organizing and coalition-building effort that will maximize our chances.

 

Vermont: Majority Support For Retail Marijuana Sales

May 23rd, 2014

A strong majority of Vermonters support regulating the commercial production and retail sales of marijuana for adults, according to a statewide Castleton Polling Institute survey commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that they support “changing Vermont law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol, so retailers would be licensed to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older?” Only 34 percent of those survey opposed the notion of legalization.

The Castleton poll possesses a margin or error of +/- 4 percent.

Within the past few months, separate statewide polls in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Texas have all shown majority support for legalizing the adult consumption of cannabis.

Recent national polls by Gallup (58 percent), CNN (55 percent), CBS (51 percent), and NBC (55 percent) have also shown majority support for legalizing cannabis.

Bill to Improve Medical Marijuana Access in Vermont Gets Final Approval

April 30th, 2014

On Wednesday, the Vermont Senate gave final approval to a bill that will improve access to medical marijuana and remove the arbitrary cap of 1,000 patients who may benefit from dispensaries. S. 247 was approved by the House last week, and the bill will now move forward to Governor Peter Shumlin’s desk where it will receive his signature.

Sponsored by Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham), this bill will increase possession limits for dispensaries, allow them to deliver medical marijuana to patients, and permit naturopaths to certify patients for the program. Additionally, the bill was amended by the House to initiate two studies: One will explore the possibility of adding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for the state’s medical marijuana program, and one will evaluate the potential impact of making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol.

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Sen. Jeanette White

That’s right — not only did Vermont legislators improve the medical marijuana law this year, but they are already gathering the information they will need to consider sensible marijuana policy reforms during next year’s legislative session.

 

N.H. House Committee Approves Decriminalization Bill

March 7th, 2014
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Rep. Adam Schroadter

On Tuesday, in a 12-5 vote, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee approved a bill that would decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. HB 1625, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), would reduce the possession penalty to a violation punishable by a fine of up to $100. It would also reduce the penalty for possessing up to six plants from a felony to a misdemeanor, and it would reduce the maximum penalties for other marijuana offenses.

Vermont decriminalized marijuana possession in 2013, leaving New Hampshire as the only state in New England that maintains a criminal penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana. This makes no sense, especially in a state known as the “Live Free or Die” state.

Vermont Legislature Seeks to Expand Medical Marijuana Program

February 28th, 2014

Vermont’s medical marijuana program has come a long way since the law was first approved by the Legislature back in 2004. In 2011, MPP worked with Vermont legislators and our allies to secure approval for four state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. As a result of that law, which was signed by Governor Peter Shumlin, the fourth dispensary began serving patients in southern Vermont last Tuesday.

This is great progress, but we can’t stop here. The addition of four dispensaries has dramatically improved access for patients, and over 1,000 patients have now registered for Vermont’s program. But there are still a number of issues with Vermont’s medical marijuana law that need to be addressed, including an absurd restriction that only 1,000 Vermont patients may be served by dispensaries.

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Sen. Jeanette White

We are currently urging Vermont legislators to pass S. 247, which would eliminate the 1,000-patient cap and make other positive changes to Vermont’s medical marijuana law. Sponsored by Senator Jeanette White (D), S. 247 would authorize the Department of Public Safety to license two additional dispensaries. It would also allow dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients, and it would allow naturopaths to certify patients for the program.

S. 247 has already been approved by two Senate committees, and a vote is expected soon by the full Senate.

If you are a Vermont resident, please email your senator and ask them to support his sensible bill.

Vermont Health Commissioner Talks Regulation

September 16th, 2013
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Commissioner Harry Chen

Last week brought new hope for making marijuana legal in Vermont, a state that just decriminalized marijuana possession this past summer. Harry Chen, Vermont’s Health Commissioner, indicated support for taxing and regulating marijuana at the end of the week:

Let’s see what happens in other states. We have a grand experiment going on in Washington state and Colorado, certainly in my discussions with officials around the country we want to see what happens in these states when you start to regulate it.

We want to ensure there’s appropriate funding for any dealing with the health effects just like we theoretically have liquor taxes and we do devote some of that money to dealing with the health effects of alcohol. [MPP emphasis added]

Chen’s comments come after Gov. Shumlin (D) said he was open to the idea of marijuana legalization last Wednesday. 

Just last Monday, MPP predicted Vermont to be one of the next 10 states to legalize marijuana use and pledged to support efforts in those states to end marijuana prohibition by 2017.

The Next Ten States to Legalize Marijuana

September 9th, 2013

The Marijuana Policy Project announced Monday it will support efforts to end marijuana prohibition in 10 more states by 2017. The announcement comes one day before the U.S. Senate Judiciary CommitteeUS_Capitol_Dome_resize is scheduled to hold a hearing at which it will address the U.S. Justice Department’s recent decision to allow states to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana.

MPP will work with local and national allies to pass voter initiatives in at least five states and bills in five state legislatures to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with systems in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol. MPP is currently supporting a petition drive led by Alaska activists to place an initiative on the August 2014 ballot, and it will work to pass initiatives in Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada in the 2016 election. The organization is participating in lobbying and grassroots organizing efforts to pass bills in the Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont state legislatures by 2017. MPP has been responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000, and it was the largest backer of the successful 2012 initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.

“Most Americans are tired of seeing their tax dollars used to arrest and prosecute adults for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol,” said MPP executive director Rob Kampia. “Voters and state legislators are ready for change, and the federal government appears to be ready, as well.”

The Justice Department announced on August 29 that it will allow Colorado and Washington to move forward with implementation of voter-approved laws establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and retail sales.

“Marijuana prohibition has been just as problematic and counterproductive as alcohol prohibition,” Kampia said. “We look forward to working with elected officials, community leaders, organizations, and other local and national allies to develop more effective and efficient marijuana policies.”

Rob Kampia: What Can We Learn from DOJ Memo?

September 4th, 2013

New Hampshire Becomes 19th State to Allow Medical Marijuana

July 23rd, 2013
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Gov. Maggie Hassan

Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) signed a bill that made New Hampshire the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana!

MPP worked for seven years to bring about this victory. We funded local activists, retained lobbyists in the state capital, employed a full-time staffer outside the state capital, and dedicated significant resources to building public support and generating constituent pressure on elected officials. We also persevered despite our medical marijuana legislation being vetoed twice — once in 2009, and then again in 2012.

The newly enacted law will allow patients with serious illnesses to obtain marijuana from four nonprofit, state-licensed alternative treatment centers.

Even more exciting, medical marijuana is officially legal in all six states that comprise New England!

Passage of the New Hampshire bill marks MPP’s second major legislative victory this year (we also passed a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession in Vermont), and we have a medical marijuana bill awaiting the signature of Gov. Quinn in Illinois.