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Election

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 18, 2017

    take_actionLegislators in a number of states are pushing forward measures to delay the enactment of several voter-initiated marijuana laws.

    In Arkansas, House lawmakers are moving forward with legislation, House Bill 1026, to postpone the deadline for establishing the state’s new medical marijuana program by 60 days. Fifty-three percent of voters approved Issue 6 on Election Day, which called on lawmakers to regulate the production and dispensing of medical cannabis within 120 days.

    In Maine, leading House and Senate lawmakers have endorsed emergency legislation, LD 88, to delay retail marijuana sales by at least three months. Under the voter-initiated law, rules regulating the commercial marijuana market are supposed to be operational by January 1, 2018. (By contrast, separate provisions permitting adults to possess and grow specific quantities of cannabis take effect on January 30, 2017.)

    In North Dakota, Senate lawmakers unanimously passed emergency legislation, Senate Bill 2154, to postpone the deadline for the enactment of the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act. Sixty-four percent of voters backed the measure, which gave lawmakers a 90-day window to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana.

    Massachusetts’ lawmakers previously enacted legislation imposing a six-month delay on the licensed production and retail sales of marijuana. Legislators are also debating making additional changes to the law, including raising the proposed retail sales tax and limiting the number of plants an adult may grow at home.

    In Florida, health regulators are also calling for significant changes to Amendment 2, which passed with 71 percent of the vote.

    NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri strongly criticized the proposed changes and delays, calling them “an affront to the democratic process.” He added: “Voters have lived with the failings of marijuana prohibition for far too long already. Lawmakers have a responsibility to abide by the will of the voters and to do so in a timely manner.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 3, 2017

    Maine Yes on 1Adults in Maine will be able to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis without penalty beginning January 30, 2017.

    Governor Paul LePage on Saturday certified the results of Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act. The voter-initiated measure narrowly passed on Election Day and was subject to a partial recount. By law, the measure becomes law 30 days after the Governor has affirmed the results.

    At that time, adults who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program will be able to legally possess up to two and one-half ounces of cannabis and/or the total harvest produced by six mature plants.

    Maine will become the eight US state to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for adults who possess marijuana for their own personal use.

    Separate provisions in the measure also establish regulations for the commercial cultivation, retail sale, and social use of cannabis. Regulations governing marijuana-related businesses are scheduled to be in place by August 8, 2017. However, the Governor has called on lawmakers to push back this timeline. Massachusetts lawmakers last week enacted a similar delay to their retail sales program.

    Governor LePage has been a strong opponent of implementing Question 1, stating “If there was ever a bill that the legislature should just kibosh, that’s it.” He has also suggested increasing the retail sales tax rates associated with the measure, as well as abolishing the state’s medical cannabis program, which has been in place since 1999 — positions that NORML opposes.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 30, 2016

    NVThis Sunday, Nevada will become the seventh US state to eliminate criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.

    “What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “Voters in the western region of the United States are leading the way toward the eventual nationwide re-legalization of marijuana by responsible adults. Federal laws need to reflect this reality, not deny it.”

    On Election Day, 55 percent of Nevada voters approved Question 2, the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The law permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing medical cannabis program to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to 3.5 grams of cannabis concentrates. An adult may also lawfully grow up to six plants in their home if they reside 25 miles or more away from a marijuana retailer. Provisions in the law also permit for the possession and sale of marijuana-related paraphernalia as well as the gifting of small amounts of cannabis for no financial remuneration. Public use of the plant remains a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $600.

    Separate provisions in the statute also license the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis, which will be subject to a 15 percent excise tax. Those regulations do not take effect until January 1, 2018.

    Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences. Similar legislation in Maine is anticipated to go into effect later next month.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 19, 2016

    Maine Yes on 1The group opposing Maine’s marijuana legalization initiative has withdrawn its recount effort.

    Last month, representatives from ‘No on 1’ requested a recount of the vote totals specific to Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act. On Saturday, the campaign conceded that the recount would not impact the Election Day result, which estimated Question 1 winning by slightly over 4,000 votes.

    The measure is now expected to be enacted 30 days after Gov. Paul LePage affirms the result.

    The Act permits adults who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to possess personal use quantities of marijuana (up to two and one-half ounces and/or the total harvest produced by six plants). The measure also establishes regulations for the commercial cultivation and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Regulations governing marijuana-related businesses are scheduled to be in place by August 8, 2017.

    Speaking live on WGAN radio last week, Gov. LePage criticized the measure, stating, “If there was ever a bill that the legislature should just kibosh, that’s it.” The Governor further suggested increasing the retail sales tax rates associated with the measure, as well as abolishing the state’s medical cannabis program, which has been in place since 1999.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 28, 2016

    ballot_box_leafPolitical leaders in several states are threatening to thwart the implementation of voter-approved initiatives specific to the regulation of marijuana.

    In Massachusetts, where voters decided 54 percent to 46 percent on election day to legalize the cultivation, use, and retail sale of cannabis by adults, politicians have suggested amending the law and delaying its implementation. Specifically, lawmakers have called for pushing back the date when adults may legally begin growing cannabis from December 15, 2016 to an unspecified point in time. Legislators have also called for delaying retail sales of cannabis until late 2018, and have proposed increasing marijuana-specific sales taxes. “I believe that when voters vote on most ballot questions, they are voting in principle. They are not voting on the fine detail that is contained within the proposal,” Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg said in regard to the proposed changes.

    In Maine, where voters narrowly approved a similar ballot measure, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has said that he will seek federal guidance before moving forward with the law’s implementation. Governor LePage, who adamantly opposed the measure, said that he “will be talking to Donald Trump” about how the incoming administration intends to address the issue, and pronounced that he “will not put this (law) into play” unless the federal government signs off on it.

    Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson made similar statements following voters’ decision to legalize the medical use of cannabis. “I don’t like the idea of implementing laws in Arkansas that violate federal law,” the Republican Governor and former head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration said. “This does not call for a state-by-state solution, it calls for … a national solution.”

    During the Presidential campaign, Donald Trump voiced support for the authority of individual states to impose regulatory policies specific to the use and dispensing of medical cannabis, but was less clear with regard to whether he believed that state lawmakers ought to be able to regulate the adult use of cannabis absent federal interference. His nominee for US Attorney General, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, strongly opposes any liberalization in cannabis policy, stating in April, “[M]arijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.”

    In 2013, the Obama administration issued a memorandum directing US prosecutors not to interfere with statewide marijuana legalization efforts, provided those efforts did not undermine specific federal priorities – such as the diversion of cannabis to non-legal states. According to Gallup pollsters, nearly two-thirds of Americans support allowing states to decide their own cannabis policies.

    Voters in eight states – Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota – approved statewide ballot measures this November regulating marijuana for either medicinal or social use.

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