Missouri: Marijuana Medicalization Effort Reaches Signature Milestone

namlogoblueProponents of a Missouri voter initiative effort to legalize and regulate the therapeutic use and distribution of cannabis statewide have gathered over 50,000 signatures over the past several weeks. Advocates must collect a total of 160,000 signatures by May 6, 2018 in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.

The initiative permits patients, at the discretion of a physician, to cultivate limited quantities of marijuana or to obtain cannabis and cannabis-infused products from licensed facilities.

The group behind the effort, New Approach Missouri, includes members of both national NORML as well as its state and local affiliates. To date, the signature gathering effort has largely consisted of volunteers.

Proponents sought to place a similar effort on the 2016 ballot. That effort failed after the courts upheld the decision of St. Louis-area election authorities to reject some 2,000 signatures in the state’s second Congressional district.

Marijuana law reform advocates are also presently gathering signatures for voter-initiated efforts in Michigan and Utah. A statewide initiative legalizing the use of medical marijuana in Oklahoma has already qualified for the 2018 electoral ballot.

Michigan: Legalization Coalition Effort Reaches Signature Milestone

legalization_pollProponents of Michigan voter initiative effort to legalize and regulate the personal use and retail sale of cannabis statewide has gathered over 100,000 signatures in the past six weeks. Advocates must collect a total of 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters by mid-November in order to qualify the measurethe Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act — for the 2018 electoral ballot.

The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

The coalition behind the effort, The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, is partnership between the Marijuana Policy Project, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML, MI Legalize, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, and lawyers from the State Bar of Michigan Marijuana Law Section.

Proponents sought to place a similar measure on the Michigan ballot in 2016. That effort was ultimately turned back when lawmakers imposed and the courts upheld new rules limiting the time frame during which signatures could be collected.

Marijuana law reform advocates are also presently gathering signatures for voter-initiated efforts in Missouri and Utah. A statewide initiative legalizing the use of medical marijuana in Oklahoma has already qualified for the 2018 electoral ballot.

Kansas City: NORML Chapter’s Decriminalization Effort Qualifies For City Ballot

chapter_spotlightPetitioners seeking to decriminalize municipal penalties specific to the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana have gathered sufficient signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, a representative from the Kansas City Clerk’s office confirmed today.

The proposal, spearheaded by Kansas City NORML, amends citywide penalties from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil fine, punishable by a $25 fine. Similar municipal measures are currently in place in St. Louis and in Columbia, Missouri.

Members of the city council have 60 days to either act on the measure or to place it before voters this spring in a special election.

Under state law, the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. On January 1, new sentencing provisions will take effect reclassifying the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana as a Class D misdemeanor, punishable by a fine but no jail.

The Reason a Record Number of States Can Vote to Legalize Weed This Fall

Legalize MarijuanaThose of us who support the full legalization of marijuana are greatly benefiting from political reforms adopted during what is frequently referred to as the Progressive Era in this country.

The principal objective of the progressive movement was eliminating corruption in government, and to accomplish that goal, proponents sought ways to take down the powerful and corrupt political bosses and to provide access by ordinary Americans to the political system – a concept called direct democracy, as contrasted to representative democracy.

It was during this period that the concept of direct primaries to nominate candidates for public office, direct election of U.S. senators, and universal suffrage for women gained traction. And, most important to our work, the procedures known as referendum and initiatives began to be adopted in several states.

In 1902, Oregon was the first state to adopt the option of initiative and referendum to change public policy, permitting citizens to directly introduce or approve proposed laws or constitutional amendments. This process was called an initiative if the change originated by action of citizens, without the involvement of the legislature, and as a referendum if it originated from the legislature but was referred to the voters to decide.

By 1920, a total of 22 states had adopted provisions modeled on the Oregon system. Today, a total of 24 states offer a voter initiative. In the rest of the states, the only avenue to change public policy is through the state legislature.

This brief history of direct democracy is relevant today because it is this access to direct political action by voters that has allowed marijuana legalization to move forward, years earlier than would have been politically possible through the action of state legislatures.

The four states and the District of Columbia that have approved full legalization for all adults, and the five states that will be voting on full legalization in November, all rely on voter initiatives. These progressive procedures have worked precisely as they were intended back in the Progressive Era: They have allowed citizens to go around the establishment to alter the status quo.

Voter initiatives are unpopular among most elected officials.

Altering the status quo has not taken place without some legal kicking and screaming by the elected officials in those states. It comes as no surprise that most elected officials do not appreciate the fact that public policies in their states can, when necessary, be changed without their consent.

As we approach the end of summer and the coming fall elections, we once again see examples of the extraordinary time and resources many establishment politicians and other anti-marijuana zealots are willing to invest to try to prevent citizens in their states from voting directly on marijuana policy.

The reason, of course, is obvious. According to recent national polls, a clear majority of the American public (between 55 and 61 percent) supports an end to marijuana prohibition. If given the opportunity to vote on the issue, they will vote to legalize marijuana.

Elected officials, who otherwise claim to represent the will of the voters in their states, and other self-appointed moral guardians, go to great lengths to try to stop the votes from happening.

Democracy is something they support so long as the public favors the same policies they favor. When the public gets out ahead of the establishment, democracy be damned; they will use any tools available, including procedural and constitutional challenges, to avoid allowing the voters to decide the issue.

Full legalization proposals.

We will have full legalization measures on the ballot in five states this fall: Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Arizona, and California. A sixth, Michigan, would have qualified but for last-minute legislation.

In several of the states with pending initiatives, establishment prohibitionists have gone to court in a desperate effort to get the courts to intervene to keep the measures off the ballot.

In Maine, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap attempted to invalidate a significant number of the signatures gathered by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine, arguing that the signature of a single notary did not match the one on file with the state. Fortunately, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy overruled Dunlap’s decision. When the signatures were recounted, the measure, Question 1, qualified for the ballot.

In Massachusetts, once the Secretary of State had qualified the legalization initiative for the ballot, a group of prohibitionists calling themselves the Safe and Healthy Massachusetts Campaign sued to have the measure removed from the ballot, claiming it violated the constitutional limitation prohibiting an initiative from dealing with two unrelated topics. This challenge was subsequently dismissed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and the measure, Question 4, will now appear on the November ballot.

In Arizona, a group calling itself Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy — including two prominent country prosecutors and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce — filed suit to try to keep the legalization initiative off the ballot, after it had been qualified by the Secretary of State. The group claimed that the 100-word summary (a limit set by statute) did not accurately reflect everything contained in the 30-page proposal. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jo Lynn Gentry rejected the argument and approved the measure, Proposition 205, for the ballot.

In California — the big enchilada for the 2016 elections and a state in which opponents to an initiative are permitted to include on the ballot their reasons for opposing the proposal — it was the proponents who went to court. The Yes on 64 advocates successfully challenged all six arguments that opponents had wanted to appear on the ballot, and Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang found all six “false and misleading.” She ordered the opponents to modify their arguments, most of which falsely claimed the initiative would permit pro-marijuana ads to appear on radio and television and would appeal to children.

And in Michigan, where proponents, MI Legalize, had turned in a sufficient number of signatures (more than 350,000) to qualify a legalization measure for the ballot, the state legislature quickly rammed through a new law in June declaring signatures older than 180 days to be invalid, leaving proponents shy of the required number of signatures. Proponents have filed suit against the state, challenging the new limitations on constitutional grounds, but it appears the appeal will not be decided in time for the initiative to appear on the 2016 ballot, even if the appeal succeeds.

Of the five full-legalization initiatives that will appear on the ballot this fall, only the Nevada initiative, Question 2, was free from a court challenge. Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller certified the proposal for the ballot at the end of 2014. While there are certainly organized opponents, none elected to challenge the measure in court.

Moving forward.

In the short term, proponents of legalization will continue to focus efforts in the states that offer the option of a voter initiative. So long as our elected officials, and the establishment interests they represent, continue to support the status quo of prohibition, it makes sense strategically to bypass the state legislature where possible.

But that is a strategy that must eventually evolve, as 26 states simply do not offer that option. For that half of the country, we will have to win the old-fashioned way: By building majority support among state legislators to pass the proposal through the legislature.

It’s a significant challenge for sure, but as we’ve demonstrated with the drive to legalize medical marijuana, after a few more states have adopted legalization by voter initiative, enacting legalization by statute will become more realistic.

For those who live in one of the 26 states without an initiative process, we must continue the painfully slow process of convincing individual legislators that prohibition of marijuana is a failed public policy and that full legalization makes sense.

Many already understand this but continue to fear being labeled “soft on drugs” should they acknowledge the obvious. It is frustrating to have to win over supporters one at a time, but each year it becomes easier as public support for legalization continues to increase, and elected officials ignore the wishes of their constituents at their own peril.

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This column first ran on ATTN:

http://www.attn.com/stories/11148/marijuana-legalization-and-voter-initiatives

 

Arizona: Adult Use Marijuana Measure Cleared For November Ballot

vote_keyboardArizona voters will decide this November on a statewide ballot measure to legalize and regulate the adult use and retail sale of cannabis.

The Secretary of State’s office has confirmed that initiative proponents, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, submitted a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot. A Maricopa County judge has also dismissed a lawsuit that sought to prohibit the measure from going before voters, although initiative opponents may seek to further litigate the matter before the state Supreme Court.

Proposition 205 permits adults to legally possess (up to one ounce of marijuana flowers and/or five grams of marijuana concentrates) and cultivate marijuana (up to six plants) for their own personal use, and establishes licensing for its commercial production and retail sale. Commercial, for-profit sales of cannabis will be subject to taxation, while non-commercial exchanges of marijuana will not be taxed.

Similar adult use measures will appear on the ballot this November in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota will also decide on medical use measures this fall. A Missouri statewide initiative seeking to regulate the plant’s medicinal use is in litigation.

A summary of 2016 statewide ballot measures and their status is online here.

Proponents of Marijuana Club Initiative Exceed Expectations

Jordan Person, executive director of the Denver Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) submitted roughly 8,000 signatures this week to Denver’s Election Division with the hope of qualifying the Responsible Use Initiative for this November’s ballot. Relying on the hard work and dedication of more than twenty grassroots activists, the Denver NORML team worked tirelessly for more than three months educating voters on the issue and collecting signatures throughout the city. The campaign needs a total of 4,726 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.Logo-1-R4

“I could not be more proud of the grassroots movement Denver NORML has created. Our volunteers sacrificed every moment they could to work hard for this campaign.” Person said. “It was an easy choice for most because of how much they believe in the initiative they are fighting for. As we go through this interim period of waiting, hoping and preparing we look forward to the future with excitement.”

If certified for the ballot, Denver voters will be among the first in the nation to decide whether to regulate legal private marijuana clubs for adults 21 and over.

Officials with Denver Elections have 25 days to verify the campaign’s signatures. Regardless of the outcome, this has been a groundbreaking effort to normalize the consumption of marijuana in America.

In addition to Denver NORML’s Responsible Use Campaign, voters in the city might also have the opportunity to vote on a similar, yet more limited proposal that would restrict consumers to vaping in predesignated areas.

Massachusetts: Adult Use Marijuana Measure Qualifies For November Ballot

vote_keyboardMassachusetts voters will decide this November on a statewide ballot measure to legalize and regulate the adult use and retail sale of cannabis.

The Secretary of State’s office has confirmed that initiative proponents, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, submitted a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

Question 4, The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, permits adults to possess (up to ten ounces) and to cultivate (up to six plants) personal use quantities of cannabis and establishes licensing for its commercial production and retail sale. Commercial for-profit sales of cannabis will be subject to taxation, while non-commercial exchanges of marijuana will not be taxed.

State voters have previously approved ballot measures decriminalizing marijuana possession penalties and legalizing the use and dispensing of medicinal cannabis.

Voters in Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada will also decide on adult use measures this November. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, and Montana will decide on medical use initiatives this fall.

A summary of 2016 statewide ballot measures is online here.

Montana: Medical Cannabis Restoration Initiative Qualifies For November Ballot

vote_keyboard

Montana voters will decide this November on a statewide initiative to restore and expand elements of the state’s medical cannabis program.

The Secretary of State’s office has affirmed that initiative proponents, Montana Citizens for I-182, submitted sufficient signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

The Montana Medical Marijuana Act (I-182) amends the state’s existing law to expand the pool of patients eligible to access cannabis therapy and removes certain restrictions on recommending physicians and providers. The measure also establishes a regulatory scheme overseeing the testing and distribution of medical cannabis products.

Montana voters initially approved ballot initiative language in 2004 authorizing qualified patients to possess and grow medical marijuana. In 2011, lawmakers passed legislation significantly revising the law. This spring, members of the Montana Supreme Court upheld several of those amendments, including provisions that called for additional oversight for physicians who recommend cannabis therapy to more than 25 patients annually, and permitting law enforcement to engage in warrantless inspections of the premises of marijuana providers.

The full text of I-182 is available online here. A fact sheet about the measure is available here.

Voters this November will also decide on separate statewide medical use measures in Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri.

Initiatives to permit the adult use of cannabis are pending in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. A Michigan initiative remains in litigation.

Summaries and status of pending 2016 statewide initiatives is available from NORML’s Take Action Center here.

LA Overturns Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban

“Faced with several lawsuits, petitions with thousands of signatures and heavy criticism, the Los Angeles City Council reversed itself yesterday. In a preliminary vote, members ended the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. The ban was only enacted in July…”.* Ana Kasparian, John Iadarola (host of TYT University and Common Room), and Steve Oh (TYT COO/Audio Guy) break it down on The Young Turks. *Read more here from NPR: www.npr.org Watch the cannabis themed Point: www.youtube.com Support The Young Turks by Subscribing bit.ly Like Us on Facebook: www.fb.com Follow Us on Twitter: bit.ly Buy TYT Merch: theyoungturks.spreadshirt.com Find out how to watch The Young Turks on Current by clicking here: www.current.com
Video Rating: 4 / 5

Tell Obama To ‘Just Say No’ to Joe

A White House online petition telling Obama to listen to the voters of Colorado and Washington about the future of cannabis legalization, not the famously anti-cannabis/pro drug war architect Vice President Joe Biden, only needs 7,000 more signatures to be brought to the president’s attention. The signatures are needed by Wednesday, January 9.

If you’ve not yet taken a moment to let the White House know that you too support the voters of Colorado and Washington, please sign the online petition to put it over the top, and get the White House on record to not interfere with the will of voters in states who no longer support cannabis prohibition and want it legalized and taxed.

Supporters Turn In 50,000 Signatures, LA Marijuana Dispensary Ban Suspended


In July, members of the LA City Council approved a blanket ban on marijuana dispensaries in the city. This ban has now been suspended for the time being thanks to the efforts of medicinal cannabis supporters in the City of Angels.

Today, medical marijuana advocates turned in nearly double the 27,425 signatures required to force a voter referendum on the dispensary ban. The ban has been suspended temporarily to allow the city clerk 15 days to verify the signatures and see if the referendum officially qualifies. If it does, the council must either repeal the ban entirely or place the issue before voters in March 2013.

NORML will keep you posted as this situation evolves.

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