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  • by NORML November 7, 2018

    Marijuana reformers enjoyed numerous federal, state, and local victories last night. Here are the highlights.

    STATE BALLOT INITIATIVES

    Florida: Sixty-three percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 4, which amends the state constitution to restore voting privileges to those with non-violent felony convictions – including tens of thousands of those convicted of marijuana-related offenses. Passage of the amendment is anticipated to reinstate voting rights to some 1.4 million Floridians.

    Michigan: Voters by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent approved Proposal 1, legalizing the adult use, cultivation, and retail marketing of marijuana. Michigan is the first Midwest state to legalize adult marijuana use and sales, and it is the tenth state overall to do so. Under the measure’s provisions, adults will be able to legally begin possessing cannabis ten days following the certification of the 2018 election results. An estimated 25 percent of the US population now resides in a jurisdiction where the adult use and possession of cannabis is legal.

    Missouri: Sixty-six percent of Missourians approved Amendment 2, which amends the constitution to permits physicians to recommend medical marijuana at their sole discretion, and provides licensed dispensary access to qualifying patients. The measure beat out two competing ballot initiatives, neither of which received more than 50 percent support from voters.

    North Dakota: Fifty-nine percent of North Dakota voters rejected Measure 3, a grassroots initiative that sought to strike marijuana from much of the criminal code and would have ended most marijuana-related arrests. Though the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, NORML is proud to have worked closely with local organizers over the past months, and is looking forwarding to coordinating future statewide reform efforts under the North Dakota NORML banner here.

    Utah: Fifty-three percent of Utah voters approved Proposition 2, which facilitates legal medical cannabis access to qualified patients. In the coming months, state lawmakers are anticipated to hold a special legislative session with regard to implementing the new law. NORML is calling on state politicians to “respect the will of the electorate and move swiftly to enact The Utah Medical Cannabis Act in a manner that comports with both the spirit of the law and the letter of law.” With yesterday’s passage of medical marijuana legalization in Missouri and Utah, 33 US states now recognize the therapeutic use of cannabis by statute.

    KEY FEDERAL RACES

    There were some major changes in the US House of Representatives that bode well for the prospects of future, federal marijuana law reform. Perhaps most importantly, Congress’ chief marijuana prohibitionist – Texas Republican Pete Sessions – lost his re-election bid. Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. His actions single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms — such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

    But Rep. Sessions is not the only prohibitionist leaving Congress. Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte – who as House Judiciary Chair failed to schedule any significant marijuana bills for hearings – has retired and will no longer be in Congress following the conclusion of this term

    With Sessions and Goodlatte out of power, it is likely that members of the House will once again weigh in on and pass a number of important legislative reforms in 2019.

    In addition to these notable departures, a number of NORML-endorsed Congressional candidates and incumbents won their races – including leading reformers like: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), David Joyce (R-OH), and Barbara Lee (D-CA). To see the outcomes for races involving all of NORML’s 2018 endorsed candidates, please visit here.

    KEY STATE RACES

    In four states — Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois — voters elected Governors who openly campaigned on a platform that included legalizing adult marijuana use. In two other states — California and Colorado — voters elected Governors who have a long-history of spearheading legalization reform efforts. And in Maine and in New Mexico, two of the nation’s most rabid marijuana prohibitionists, Paul LePage and Susana Martinez, have been replaced by Governors who are open to enacting common-sense cannabis reforms. For a complete run-down of gubernatorial races impacting marijuana policy, please visit the NORML blog here.

    LOCAL BALLOT VICTORIES

    Voters in Ohio and Wisconsin approved a series of binding and non-binding local marijuana reform initiatives on Election Day.

    In Ohio, voters in five cities — including Dayton (population 140,000) — approved municipal ordinances seeking to either eliminate or significantly reduce local fines and penalties associated with marijuana-related offenses. Voters approved similar measures in the communities of Fremont (population 16,000), Norwood (population 20,000), Oregon (population 20,000), and Windham (population, 2,200). And in Wisconsin, voters in sixteen separate counties — including Milwaukee County — approved non-binding ballot questions expressing support for the legalization of cannabis for either medical purposes or for adult use.

  • by NORML

    Voters on election day decided in favor of several gubernatorial candidates who campaigned on promises to either address or enact statewide marijuana law reforms as Governor.

    NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano
    said: “In four states — Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois — voters elected Governors who openly campaigned on a platform that included legalizing adult marijuana use. In two other states — California and Colorado — voters elected Governors who have a long-history of spearheading legalization reform efforts. And in Maine and in New Mexico, two of the nation’s most rabid marijuana prohibitionists, Paul LePage and Susana Martinez, have been replaced by Governors who are open to enacting common-sense cannabis reforms.”

    He concluded, “In 2019, we anticipate unprecedented legislative activity at the state level in favor of marijuana law reform legislation, and we expect to see several significant legislative victories before the year’s end.”

    Below is a summary of several key races:

    CALIFORNIA: Voters elected Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to be California’s next Governor. Newsom received an A grade from NORML for his longstanding support for marijuana legalization, which includes empaneling the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy and campaigning on behalf of California’s 2016 adult use marijuana legalization law. He replaces Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (B grade from NORML).

    COLORADO: Voters elected Democratic Congressman and NORML-endorsed candidate Jared Polis to be Governor. As a member of the US House of Representatives, Polis spearheaded prominent legalization legislation, such as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, and was a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. He replaces outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper (B grade from NORML).

    CONNECTICUT: Democrat Ned Lamont replaces Dan Malloy (B- grade from NORML) as Connecticut’s next Governor. In contrast to Malloy, who said that legalizing marijuana was not the state’s “best interest,” Lamont acknowledged during the campaign, “The time has come for Connecticut to responsibly legalize marijuana.” According to the results of an August Quinnipiac University poll, 59 percent percent of Connecticut voters support “allowing adults in Connecticut to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.”

    ILLINOIS: Democratic candidate J.B. Pritizker defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner (C+ rating from NORML). Pritzker was outspoken in his support for marijuana policy reform throughout the campaign, stating, “In the name of criminal justice reform, consumer safety, and increased state revenue, Illinois needs a governor who is ready to legalize marijuana.” He also campaigned in favor of commuting the sentences of those incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes. Sixty-six percent of Illinois voters support “the legalization of recreational marijuana if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol,” according to a 2018 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll.

    MAINE: Democrat Janet Mills will replace outgoing Gov. Paul LePage, who received a D- grade from NORML earlier this year. As Governor, LePage campaigned against the states’ 2016 adult use legalization initiative and later vetoed legislation that sought to fully implement it into law. By contrast, Mills acknowledges that “properly implemented, marijuana legalization has the potential to create thousands of jobs, grow the Maine economy, and end an outdated war on drugs.”

    MICHIGAN: Democratic candidate Gretchen Whitmer defeated Republican candidate Bill Schuette in Michigan’s Governor’s race. Whitmer endorsed the state’s 2018 adult use legalization measure, Proposal 1, which was enacted by 56 percent of the state’s voters. By contrast, former Attorney General Schuette opposed Proposal 1, and formerly campaigned — unsuccessfully — against the passage of medical cannabis access in Michigan.

    MINNESOTA: Democratic candidate Tim Walz has been elected to be the next Governor of Minnesota. During his gubernatorial campaign, Walz embraced marijuana legalization, pledging to “replace the current failed policy with one that creates tax revenue, grows jobs, builds opportunities for Minnesotans, protects Minnesota kids, and trusts adults to make personal decisions based on their personal freedoms.” Fifty-six percent of Minnesota adults support legalizing adult marijuana use, according to the results of an October Survey USA poll.

    PENNSYLVANIA: Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf was re-elected as Governor of Pennsylvania. Wolf received B- grade from NORML and has been vocal in his support for amending the state’s marijuana laws so that minor marijuana possession offenses are no longer classified as criminal misdemeanors. NORML-endorsed candidate John Fetterman was successful in his bid to be elected Lt. Governor.

    NEW MEXICO: Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham will replace Republican Susana Martinez. Grisham has said that she would be “inclined to sign” legislation regulating adult marijuana use. By contrast, Martinez vetoed numerous marijuana reform bills, including those expanding medical cannabis access and legalizing hemp. She received an F grade from NORML.

    WISCONSIN: Democratic candidate Tony Evers defeated Republican incumbent Scott Walker to become Wisconsin’s next Governor. Walker opposed efforts to amend adult use marijuana law during his tenure as Governor – receiving a D+ grade on NORML’s gubernatorial scorecard. By contrast, Evers says he’s “not opposed to” legalization. “I’d support it, but I do believe there has to be a more thoughtful, rigorous conversation around it as a state. So I would love to have a statewide referendum on this.” Sixty-four percent of registered Wisconsin voters say that marijuana should be “legalized for use by adults, … taxed, and regulated like alcohol,” according to a statewide October 2018 poll.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director November 1, 2018

    NORML Recommends:
    YES on Amendment 2
    NO on Amendment 3
    NO on Proposition C

    Voters this November have the opportunity to make Missouri the 32nd state to allow for the physician-recommended use of marijuana, and based on the latest polling data, they will likely do so.

    Therefore, the important question before voters is no longer if the Show-Me State should legalize medical cannabis access, but how Missouri will do so.

    That is because not one, not two, but three medical marijuana measures (two constitutional amendments and one statutory measure) will appear on the ballot on Election Day. But not all of these measures are created equal, and it will be up to voters to decide which one of these three is ultimately in the best interest of Missouri’s patients.

    On Election Day, NORML urges voters to stand with New Approach Missouri and vote “yes” for Amendment 2. Quite simply, Amendment 2 — unlike its competitors — puts the interests of patients first.

    Amendment 2 will let doctors — not legislators or bureaucrats — decide if marijuana is the appropriate option for their patients. Every day, we entrust physicians to use their discretion with regard to assisting their patients in making the right decisions. Amendment 2 upholds the sanctity of the patient-doctor relationship and leaves these important medical treatment decisions up to those who know best: Missouri’s practicing physicians.

    While a competing effort, Amendment 3, proposes the highest tax rate in the nation for medical cannabis products sold at retail (15%), Amendment 2 would set one of the lowest. The revenue raised by the retail sale of medical cannabis will go directly to the Missourian Veterans’ Health and Care Fund and will be used to help provide those in the state who put their lives on the line with necessary health services.

    While much has been written about the obvious flaws of the competing constitutional amendment, Amendment 3, these criticisms are worth repeating. While Amendment 2 is supported by a diverse coalition of patient advocates, Amendment 3 was funded entirely by one person, who drafted his amendment for his own personal benefit. It also puts this same funder largely in charge of overseeing the state’s medical marijuana program. This is hardly in the best interest of Missouri patients.

    Amendment 2, on the other hand, places the program’s oversight in the hands of the Missouri Department of Health. It also creates a robust statewide system for production and distribution of medical cannabis, with strict deadlines in place to ensure that qualified patients do not have to unduly wait for dispensaries to become operational.

    Finally, and most importantly, Amendment 2 is a constitutional amendment, which makes it more resilient to legislative tampering and intervention. By contrast, lawmakers can choose to amend Proposition C largely at their discretion, regardless of what voters decide.

    If you read each of these proposals closely, one clear choice emerges. Amendment 2 creates a broad and patient-centric program that is designed to be implemented in a timely manner and withstand any legislative challenges along the way. The other two can’t say the same. Not all ballot measures are created equal and that is why we encourage all voters to support the superior one this Election Day. Vote YES on Amendment 2. Vote No on Amendment 3 and Prop C.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director October 31, 2018

    Music legend David Crosby is the star of a new radio advertising campaign in support of Measure 3. The radio ad will be premiering on Thursday, November 1st in markets around the state and will run through Election Day. David Crosby is a musician, songwriter, author, and activist who was the founding member of two of the most iconic rock bands, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and The Byrds. He also serves on the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ Advisory Board.

    In the ad, Crosby says: “Hi, I’m David Crosby. You may know me for my music, but today I’m here to talk to you about marijuana. This election, North Dakota has the chance to take a new, sensible approach to marijuana by approving Measure 3. Measure 3 would end the arrest of adults in North Dakota for marijuana, letting the police focus their resources on violent crime. It would remain illegal for minors, but we wouldn’t be spending any more your tax dollars needlessly locking up our fellow citizens for possessing a plant that is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. Let’s end adult marijuana arrests and respect individual freedom. Vote Yes on Measure 3 on November 6th.

    Commenting on the ad’s launch, Crosby stated: “I feel a responsibility to stick up for those people who have been punished as a result of this oppressive and senseless policy. I believe that people should not be arrested or go to jail for the responsible use of a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol, tobacco, or most prescription drugs. I’ve looked at the success of states like Colorado and Oregon that have elected to move in a different direction. That is why I’m proud to support Measure 3 and encourage all North Dakotans to vote Yes on November 6th.”

    The Legalize ND campaign was enthusiastic to receive Crosby’s support. Campaign spokesman Cole Haymond commented: Legalize ND is humbled and honored to have the support from David Crosby. A voice like his will surely turn some heads as we quickly approach the election. Measure 3 supporters are fully energized and ready to turn out to vote.

    The initial ad buy covers Bismarck, Grand Forks, and Minot media markets including KLXX, KBYZ, KQHT, KCJB, and KZPR.

  • by NORML October 22, 2018

    This November, Measure 3 will be on the ballot in North Dakota to prohibit the prosecution of any person over the age of 21 for any nonviolent, marijuana-related activity and seal the records of adults with past nonviolent marijuana charges. The measure also would add penalties for individuals under the age of twenty-one in possession of, or attempting to distribute, marijuana; and provide penalties for individuals who distribute marijuana to anyone under the age of twenty-one.

    The most recent poll finds voters in support of passage, 51-36 percent.

    This poll distinguishes itself from earlier polling by questioning respondents using the language found on the Nov. 6 ballot. The poll was conducted by the Kitchens Group from Oct 11 through Oct 14, and cites a 4.9% margin of error.

    NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated:

    “Despite a big-money funded misinformation campaign from the opposition, this poll reveals that most North Dakotans are ready to end the failed prohibition of marijuana in the state.  By voting ‘Yes’ on Measure 3, North Dakotans could save the state millions of taxpayer dollars currently being spent on arresting otherwise law-abiding adults for possession of a plant that is objectively less harmful than legal alcohol and tobacco, allow law enforcement to allocate their limited resources to focus on violent crime, and defend individual freedom. A majority of residents already support this sensible move and we expect more undecided voters will choose to join them on Election Day.”

    Commenting on the poll’s findings, Legalize ND campaign advisor Cole Haymond said:

    “The message of ending marijuana arrests is resounding in North Dakota, and these results demonstrate that voters are hearing our call for action. This is a dogfight, and LegalizeND will continue to set the record straight when it comes to adult-use Marijuana. The people of North Dakota believe in personal freedom and criminal justice reform. Marijuana prohibition has hurt this state and our nation as a whole, and North Dakotans believe it’s time to end that failed practice in the state once and for all.”

    If Measure 3 is approved, North Dakota would join the nine states plus the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands who have legalized marijuana for personal use. Legalize ND argues the measure would have a strong positive impact across the state, highlighting potential benefits to law enforcement, the state agricultural industry, and the funding of education and infrastructure through tax revenue.

    States that have legalized marijuana have seen significant reductions in opioid abuse and overdose fatalities, and Legalize ND is optimistic that legalization could have a similar impact in North Dakota.

    Legalize ND is quick to point out that driving under the influence and distribution to minors will remain illegal and strengthened if Measure 3 is approved, and that current laws regarding smoking in public will apply to marijuana as well.

    If approved by voters on November 6, the provisions of Measure 3 related to ending criminal penalties for marijuana would go into effect 30 days after the measure’s approval. Within 60 days of approval, the state must seal the records of individuals with previous non-violent marijuana charges.

    YOU CAN HELP US WIN! CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE LEGALIZE ND CAMPAIGN TODAY!

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