The vote sets the stage to delay the establishment of state-licensed marijuana retail facilities from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2018. Governor Charlie Baker, who campaigned against the initiative, must still sign off on the law change. [UPDATE: Gov. Baker signed the language into law on Friday, December 30.] Separate provisions in the law eliminating penalties for adults who privately possess or grow personal use quantities of cannabis took effect on December 15.
According to The Boston Globe, the “extraordinary move” by lawmakers took place in an “informal” legislative session with “just a half-dozen legislators present.”
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri called lawmakers’ decision a “slap in the face” to the nearly two million Massachusetts voters who decided in favor of Question 4 on Election Day.
“The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is remarkable,” he said. “The voters have spoken and it is incumbent on legislators to carry out their will. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to impose criminal penalties on marijuana – doing so in 1914. After more than a century of this failed policy, it is time to bring prohibition to an end in Massachusetts.”
The move by lawmakers to delay aspects of the law’s implementation is not altogether surprising, as politicians and bureaucrats had previously discussed restricting home cultivation as well as raising the proposed sales taxes rate on marijuana sales.
The passage of medical marijuana legalization is associated with reduced traffic fatalities among younger drivers, according to data published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health.
Investigators from Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Davis analyzed traffic fatality data from the years 1985 to 2014.
They reported that states with medical cannabis laws had lower overall traffic fatality rates compared to states where cannabis is illegal, and that there was an immediate decline in motor vehicle deaths following the establishment of a legal cannabis market – particularly among those under 44 years of age.
Authors concluded: “[O]n average, MMLs (medical marijuana laws) states had lower traffic fatality rates than non-MML states. …. MMLs are associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, particularly pronounced among those aged 25 to 44 years. … It is possible that this is related to lower alcohol-impaired driving behavior in MML-states.”
An abstract of the study, “US traffic fatalities, 1985-2014, and their relationship to medical marijuana laws,” appears online here.
National NORML, Michigan NORML and dozens of other state and local chapters have released an open letter to Vice President-Elect Pence seeking clarity and common sense from the incoming administration regarding marijuana policy. During the campaign, President-Elect Trump, on multiple occasions, has voiced support for allowing states to move forward with medical and recreational marijuana laws if they chose to do so. Yet his nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be the next Attorney General, who infamously stated that “good people don’t use marijuana” during a Senate hearing in 2016, the administration is currently sending mixed messages in regards to the future of marijuana law reform under the incoming administration.
In keeping with President-Elect Trump’s message of economic growth, the marijuana advocacy groups wrote: “Voters are less and less convinced that cannabis is a criminal problem and no longer want their hard earned tax dollars used to arrest and prosecute non-violent users or entrepreneurs and employees of state licensed cannabis businesses.”
The letter, co-signed by over 50 NORML chapters throughout the country as well as the national organization, represents tens-of-thousands of advocates for cannabis reform.
“As a Michigan resident, I know that Mr. Trump would not have won my state had he campaigned on the continued criminalization of responsible marijuana users,” said Brad Forrester, Communications Director of Michigan NORML, “as the transition Chairman and soon to be Vice President, Mr. Pence has an enormous responsibility to his voters and the American people to support federal policy that respects adults to make their own decisions.”
National NORML recently released a petition to President-Elect Trump with a similar request for marijuana clarity with the letter reading “On behalf of the millions of loyal Americans who use marijuana, we hope he will respect the right of states to determine their own marijuana policy, as you advocated in your campaign. Can you clarify whether you will support states’ rights and allow states that chose to reform their laws to do so or will you use the force of the federal government to interfere with or shut down these programs?”
The three biggest winners on election night were Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and marijuana. Given the broad support for marijuana reform across essentially all demographics, the Trump-Pence administration would be wise to allow states to continue to set their own marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention. This is not just good policy, it’s good politics.
Below is the full text of the letter sent to Vice President-Elect Pence
Trump Transition Team
Chairman Mike Pence
1717 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington D.C, United States
December 20, 2016
Vice President-Elect Mike Pence,
American drug policy is at an important crossroads and the incoming Trump/Pence Administration will inherit an unprecedented schism between state and federal law in regards to the regulation and enforcement of cannabis statutes.
Where will the new administration take cannabis policy? President-Elect Trump has said he supports medicinal cannabis and states’ rights to set their own policies without interference by the federal government while on the campaign trail. Now that you both are about to assume office, we ask for clarity regarding the new administration’s plans.
Currently, twenty-one states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes with a combined population of over 123 million people, fifteen states have enacted CBD cannabis oil laws with a combined population of over 97 million people, and eight states plus the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult consumption with a combined population of over 67 million people.
Only six states still reflect the federal prohibition of cannabis, composing just 11% of the U.S. population.
However, recent cabinet appointments have sent shockwaves through patient communities, emerging industries, and responsible private citizens as many of the recent nominations that have been selected are historic opponents to cannabis law reform. In order to maintain economic stability in a rapidly growing market, the country would benefit from the Trump/Pence Administration articulating its priorities for future cannabis policy in a manner that respects state autonomy as guided by the 10th amendment of the US Constitution.
National NORML, Michigan NORML, and the undersigned chapters request that the incoming administration meet with advocates from a cross section of the cannabis community in order to formulate workable policies that reflect the popular will of independent states and protect responsible consumers of cannabis within the parameters of enacted state policies.
The 2016 election was a watershed moment for cannabis reform as it was for the Trump/Pence Presidential ticket. Voters from across the country responded favorably to both the Trump/Pence message of law and order and the message for cannabis reforms that stop the arrests of ordinary cannabis consumers. Voters are less and less convinced that cannabis is a criminal problem and no longer want their hard earned tax dollars used to arrest and prosecute non-violent consumers or entrepreneurs and employees of state licensed cannabis businesses.
Voters recognize that local resources should be devoted to addressing crimes that adversely affect their communities ranging from burglars and identity thieves to murderers and terrorists. Now more than ever, Americans want law enforcement officers to focus on issues that are truly a threat to public safety, not enforce the outdated prohibition of marijuana at the cost to responsible citizens and businesses.
The Michigan NORML Board of Directors and The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Also endorsed by the following NORML chapters: Aiken (SC) NORML, Arizona NORML, Ball State (IN) NORML, Benzie County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Berrien County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Calhoun County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, California NORML, Central Florida NORML, Central Ohio NORML, Charlotte (NC) NORML, Columbia (SC) NORML, Connecticut NORML, Delaware NORML, Denver (CO) NORML, El Paso (TX) NORML, Empire State (NY) NORML, Florida NORML, Greater St. Louis NORML, Harrisonburg (VA) NORML, Humboldt (CA) NORML, Illinois NORML, Indiana NORML, Jackson County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Kalkaska County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Los Angeles (CA) NORML, Las Vegas (NV) NORML, Low Country (SC) NORML, Macomb County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Madison (WI) NORML, Maryland NORML, Eastern Shore Miami (FL) NORML, MN NORML, Monterey County (CA) NORML, NC NORML, NC NORML of the Triad, NM NORML, North Central Ohio NORML, Northeast Indiana NORML, Northeast Lower Peninsula sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Northern Wisconsin NORML, Northwest Indiana NORML, Oakland County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Ohio NORML, Pittsburgh (PA) NORML, Purdue (IN) NORML, Purdue Northwest (IN) NORML, Santa Cruz (CA) NORML, Shiawassee County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML San Luis Obispo (CA) NORML, Stanislaus (CA) NORML, Washington NORML, Washtenaw County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Wayne State Law Students sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Western New York NORML, and Wyoming NORML
The 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.
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With eight states and the District of Columbia legalizing marijuana for adult use and more than half of the country allowing for the medical use of marijuana, it is time we double down on our efforts and finish the job. As we’ve done since 1970, NORML will be on the frontline fighting for legalization nationwide. Will you stand with us?
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