Massachusetts

Massachusetts: Harvard Likely To Keep Marijuana Ban On Campus, Regardless Of Question 4 Vote

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Harvard students excited about the possibility of legal marijuana in Massachusetts, thanks to the vote on Question 4, may be disappointed to learn that pot will likely remain banned on campus even if the legalization measure passes.

Other universities have followed this path, due to their relationships with the federal government. Harvard is a private institution, but it receives millions of dollars from the federal government each year for research. The receipt of federal funding is contingent upon colleges and universities’ adherence to federal statutes, including the criminalization of marijuana.

According to Harvard Law School professor Charles R. Nesson, legalizing marijuana on a campus that receives federal funds could potentially jeopardize those funds.

“The operative question I think is whether this acts as an in terrorem effect,” Nesson said, referring to Harvard’s federal funding as a deterrent to permitting cannabis. “I just can’t imagine Harvard taking any step but the most conservative one: go the slowest, stay the closest to the ground.”

Other private colleges in the area, like Boston University, have said they have no plans to alter their current policies that ban pot on campus.

Rhode Island: Governor Watching Massachusetts Marijuana Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The governor of Rhode Island says she's positioning her state to be ready for the possible legalization of recreational marijuana by improving state oversight of medical marijuana.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo told the Providence Journal the state will have to look harder and faster at recreational pot legalization if Massachusetts voters approve it across the border in next week's election.

If Question 4 on the Massachusetts ballot passes, it would allow retail pot shops to open after January 2018, giving some time for Rhode Island to catch up.

Raimondo says medical marijuana reforms she signed into law this year improve oversight of a flawed system. She says they also create a regulatory framework so the state is prepared if recreational pot is legalized.

She says she remains concerned about keeping kids safe.

U.S.: Big Pharma's Fight To Block Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to television ads that began running last month in Arizona, marijuana legalization would be a disaster for the state. The advertisements feature lawmakers and teachers who paint a bleak future for Arizona’s children if voters approve Proposition 205, a measure that would allow people aged 21 and over to possess an ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants for recreational use.

“Colorado schools were promised millions in new revenues” when the state approved recreational pot use, the voiceover says in one ad. Instead, schoolchildren were plagued by “marijuana edibles that look like candy”.

What's surprising is who is sponsoring the ads. In August, the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics cited concerns for child safety when, with a $500,000 contribution, it became the largest donor to Arizona’s anti-legalization drive.

Although child safety is a legitimate concern, critics say the Insys contribution in Arizona is a ploy to protect market share. Insys manufactures Subsys, a prescription painkiller derived from fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Utah: Gubernatorial Candidate Unveils Medical Marijuana Plan

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In the wake of his wife pleading guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana charge, Utah gubernatorial candidate Mike Weinholtz has rolled out a plan to legalize medical marijuana.

"There have been people suffering long enough, and we know this would help those people, so now is the time," Weinholtz said on Thursday.

His wife has said she uses marijuana to deal with chronic pain. Feds declined to prosecute her case and sent it to the Tooele County Attorney. On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor pot possession charge.

“It's bigger than just my wife and my family,” Weinholtz said. “There are thousands of Utahns that are struggling with these many different types of conditions.”

Weinholdts's plan includes: -Legalizing medical marijuana, with reasonable safeguards.

-Funding pain management programs, to cut down on opioid abuse.

-Expanding education and police department supply of Naloxone, used to save drug overdose patients.

"The increase in opioid addiction in the state has been dramatic, has been 400 percent since the year 2000, and medical cannabis would help with the reduction of opioids as well," Weinholtz said.

Massachusetts and Nevada: Legalization Campaigns Roll Out TV Ads On Same Day

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Nevada Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, and the Massachusetts’ campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, both unveiled new television ads Tuesday in support of their initiatives to legalize recreational cannabis.

“Our opponents are attempting to scare Nevadans into opposing Question 2?, says Joe Brezny, a spokesperson the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

“What our opponents would like the public to forget is that our current system poses the greatest danger to our communities. We currently have criminals profiting from selling marijuana on streets to people of all ages.”

Brezny continues; “They draw teens in with marijuana and offer them other drugs. We need to take marijuana out of the criminal market and place it in regulated stores that are prohibited from selling to minors. Regulating marijuana will make Nevada communities safer.”

“Doctors and patients shouldn’t fear that they are committing a crime by discussing marijuana as a treatment option”, the Yes on 4 campaign said in a press release, which focused on the medical qualities of marijuana.

“Numerous scientific studies have shown that marijuana is an effective alternative to many prescription drugs, including opioids. But our current laws make it difficult for patients to access marijuana for serious medical issues.”

U.S.: 60 Percent Of Americans Say Pot Should Be Legal

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By Derrick Stanleyout
Hemp News

With recreational marijuana use up for legalization on the ballot this election in several states, a new Gallup poll shows that support for legal pot is at its highest in nearly 50 years.

The poll found that 60 percent of Americans now believe that marijuana use should be legal for adults. Gallup has been asking the question for 47 years, and that is the highest level of support seen in that time.

Gallup first surveyed Americans in 1969 to see whether they thought marijuana should be legal; only 12 percent said yes. Support during the 1980s and 1990s was steady at about 25 percent. But support for pot legalization has been on the rise since 2000.

Five states are voting on marijuana legalization this November 8: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Recreational marijuana use is currently legal in four states and the District of Columbia.

Support for legalizing marijuana has increased more among younger people than those in older age groups, Gallup said. From 2005 to 2016, support for legalizing marijuana increased 33 percentage points among adults ages 18 to 34, compared to 26 percentage points among those ages 35 to 54, and 16 percentage points among those ages 55 and older. Currently, 77 percent of adults ages 18 to 34 support legalizing marijuana, compared with 45 percent of adults ages 55 and older.

Utah: LDS Leaders Ask Mormons To Oppose Legalization Of Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The LDS Church's First Presidency is asking the church's members in three western states to oppose bills that would legalize recreational marijuana.

In letters sent Wednesday to Arizona, California, and Nevada, Church President Thomas S Monson and his counselors said, "We urge church members to let their voices be heard in opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana use."

"Drug abuse in the United States is at epidemic proportions," the First Presidency noted, "and the dangers of marijuana to public health and safety are well documented. Recent studies have shed light particularly on the risks that marijuana use poses to brain development in youth. The accessibility of recreational marijuana in the home is also a danger to children."

Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults over 21. On Nov. 8, Nevada residents will vote on Question 2, Arizona residents will consider Proposition 205 and Californians will decide on Proposition 64. Maine and Massachusetts also have recreational marijuana on voters' ballots next month.

Maine: Marijuana Referendum Campaign Intensifies

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

With less than a month to Election Day, the campaign to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Maine is intensifying.

Proponents have spent more than a half-million dollars on TV ads in Maine. A recent poll showed that 10 percent of respondents are still undecided on the issue. Referendum supporters hope Maine and Massachusetts will become the first New England states to legalize marijuana for adults for recreational use. Law enforcement groups have spoken out against the states' initiatives.

Maine legalized medical marijuana in 1999. California, Nevada and Arizona also have marijuana legalization questions on the ballot this year. Four other states have medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot.

U.S.: Marijuana Legalization Is Leading In Every State Where It's On The Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

As Election Day 2016 nears, marijuana legalization measures are favored by voters in all five states that have them on their ballot.

As recently as a month ago, polling showed that voters were wary of legalization measures in Arizona and Massachusetts. The races are close in all states, however, meaning the contests could still go either way.

In Arizona, an Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll of 784 registered voters taken in late August found that 50 percent supported marijuana legalization, 40 percent opposed it, and 10 percent remain undecided. That result is a big change from the results of a July poll of likely voters showing that only 39 percent said they favored the measure.

A post-debate SurveyUSA poll of 751 likely voters in California found that Proposition 64, which would legalize, tax and regulate the sale of recreational marijuana, is supported by 52 percent of the electorate and opposed by 41 percent, with 6 percent undecided. This is a lower margin than other recent polls there, which have shown support of 60 percent or more.

In Maine, a late September poll of 505 likely voters found 53 percent support for the legalization measure, 38 percent opposed to it and 10 percent undecided. This number has been fairly constant since early this year.

U.S.: Record Number Of States Voting On Marijuana Reform Next Month

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A record number of states will be giving voters the chance next month to approve marijuana legalization and regulation.

Five states will have ballot measures to allow recreational adult cannabis use, and at least two others are considering approval for medical marijuana in various forms.

“One in five states will be able to go to the polls and vote for some level of legalization,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, the nation’s oldest organization advocating for cannabis reform. “It’s important to emphasize that there are an unprecedented number of state initiatives. It’s a significant evolution and maturation of our issue and the way advocates campaign for marijuana reform.”

Armentano says that it is also another indication of the current disconnect between the views of constituents and their elected officials. “It’s not the way the democratic process is supposed to work. When there’s a change in opinion, they [ legislators] should be reflecting on and making that change,” he says. “But they aren’t, and people are taking it into their own hands.”

The five states with votes to approve adult recreational marijuana use are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

Massachusetts: Another Poll Shows Support For Recreational Marijuana Is High

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A second poll on Question 4, the Massachusetts initiative to legalize recreational marijuana for adults, suggests support for the initiative is high.

A new poll conducted by WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio and UMass-Amherst shows a 53 percent. majority of voters surveyed support the statewide ballot initiative legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts. Seven percent of the 700 people polled remain unsure.

Passing the initiative this November would allow the use, cultivation, possession and distribution of recreational marijuana for individuals at least 21 years old.

According to WBZ, "Support for the measure (in the new poll) cuts across all demographic categories, with only voters over 55 years old and self-described conservatives opposing the measure."

The support does not come without some concerns, however.

WBZ reports:

41% of those polled say they'd be bothered if a pot store opened up in their neighborhood
52% didn’t like the idea of pot ads on TV or radio
61% expressed alarm over the prospect of people using in public.
25% claimed people growing pot in their homes would be troubling

Nebraska: Marijuana Groups Already Petitioning For 2018 Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

With 54 days left until November's election, a group of marijuana advocates pushing to eliminate Nebraska's penalties for those caught with small amounts of pot has already begun gathering signatures to put the issue before voters in 2018.

A second group seeking a broader constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana entirely has also filed 2018 petition language with the Nebraska Secretary of State's Office.

Volunteers started gathering signatures for the more limited proposal Aug. 5, targeting high-traffic areas and events such as last week's Omaha rally by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

"We're in Lincoln three times a week," said Mark Elworth Jr., a perennial candidate for elected office from Omaha who drew up the petition language and is leading the campaign.

Nebraska decriminalized marijuana in the 70s, but anyone caught with an ounce or less is still subject to a fine.

Elworth said the most significant consequence for people who are caught with pot, particularly teenagers, is the permanent record it creates.

"We're trying to protect people," he said. "Those minor possession tickets ... they can ruin people's lives."

Massachusetts: New Poll Shows Marijuana Legalization Winning

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new statewide poll of likely voters shows that 50 percent support the marijuana legalization measure this November in Massachusetts.

Question 4 would allow adults over 21 to cultivate, possess, and use marijuana, and sets up a regulatory structure under a Cannabis Control Board.

Forty-five percent in the WBUR/MassINC poll are opposed to legalization and five percent are undecided.

The poll of 506 likely voters took place between September 7 and September 10.

"Younger people are very much in favor of legalization, and it declines steadily as you move up the age brackets to where you get to voters who are 60-plus, and they're opposed to it by a 17-point margin," Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, told WBUR.

Eighty percent of respondents in the poll said they did not believe pot use is morally wrong. Fourteen percent said they did. Six percent are undecided or just don't know.

When asked what they thought was most harmful to a person's health, 42 percent said tobacco, 19 percent said alcohol, 13 percent said sugar ,and 4 percent said marijuana.

Massachusetts decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2008 through a ballot measure, and made medical marijuana legal the same way in 2012..

Massachusetts: Legalization Campaign Has Raised $2.4 Million This Year, Seven Times More Than Opposition Campaign

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The campaign in support of legalizing marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21 in Massachusetts has raised over $2.4 million so far in 2016, according to data from the state.

The $2.4 million raised by Yes on 4 is almost seven times the amount the initiative's opposition campaign, the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, has raised. This group, which is supported by Governor Charlie Baker and others, has only raised $360,000 so far this year.

The New Approach PAC has been the primary contributor to the Yes on 4 campaign, having donated $2.1 million of the $2.4 million raised.

The Yes on 4 campaign has spent nearly all the money donated, with only $22,500 still on-hand. Most of the money was spent on TV commercials, but the New Approach PAC is expected to make another large donation soon.

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts has spent very little of their funding, still having $320,000 on-hand.

If Question 4 passes in November, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of pot. It would also allow the personal cultivation of up to six plants, and allow those in a private residence to possess up to ten ounces instead of just one.

November 8 is the day of the vote. Marijuana legalization is up for a vote the same day in Arizona, Maine, Nevada, and California .

Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren Still 'Open' To Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Thursday that she would be "open" to the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana, but would not give an endorsement of the state ballot question seeking to legalize. She had made comments last year expressing her openness to the idea of legalization.

“Massachusetts is in a very difficult position, because we have decriminalized marijuana, but that means it’s fairly widely available,” Warren said Thursday. “But there’s no real regulation of it…and I think what we really need is to have some regulation of it, and that means I would be open to the possibility of legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts.”

Massachusetts decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2008 through a ballot initiative, and approved medical marijuana the same way in 2012. When asked if she supports Question 4 she reiterated her call for greater regulation.

“What I just said is that I would be open to it because I think that the problem we’ve got right now in Massachusetts is that we’ve decriminalized it which makes marijuana available but there’s no regulation over it for safety,” she said.

U.S. Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot In 5 States Election Day 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nine ballot measures for marijuana legalization on election day 2016 will amount to the largest number of voters in history casting a vote to determine marijuana laws.

Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington were the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana, and now they have the chance to be joined by five more states. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on legalizing recreational pot on ballot measures this year on election day in November.

Four other states -- Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Missouri -- will be voting on laws to make medical marijuana legal.

"This is really a watershed year for marijuana legalization, so I'm hoping that we'll see some big changes in November," F. Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told CNN.

Massachusetts: Boston's First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Almost four years after voters approved medical marijuana in Massachusetts, the first Boston dispensary opened today, August 3.

The new dispensary in downtown Boston on historic Milk Street is the seventh to open in the state.

Columbia Care CEO Nicholas Vita expects business to be brisk. Columbia Care is the parent company of Patriot Care, which is opening the Boston location.

"But we don't expect it to be overwhelming," Vita said. "It's still a medically focused program so the patients we see have all received their certification from physicians approved by the state."

Fr. Joe Quinn, a friar at St. Anthony's Shrine, attended the opening on Wednesday.
"This takes away the stigma, which is wonderful," he said. "This is a medication and that's all it's used for."

There were more than 27,000 medical marijuana card holders in Massachusetts as of the end of June.

The other Massachusetts marijuana dispensaries are located in in Ayer, Brockton, Brookline, Lowell, Northampton and Salem.

Massachusetts: Politicians Debate Race, Opioid Addiction In Marijuana Legalization Battle

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Opponents of marijuana legalization in Massachusetts have assembled a powerful show of force in the state's top politicians. On Wednesday, the anti-pot Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts released a list of 119 politicians who oppose marijuana legalization.

The list includes Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, and Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Meanwhile, Boston city councilors Michelle Wu and Tito Jackson and State Rep. David Rogers, D-Cambridge, were holding a press conference outside the Statehouse to support marijuana legalization.

Pro-marijuana advocates may face quite a challenge, but voters in Massachusetts have already voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and legalize medical marijuana. Recent polls show that voters are split on the issue of legal marijuana for recreational use.

The Western Massachusetts lawmakers to come out against marijuana legalization on Wednesday include State Sen. Don Humason, R-Westfield, State Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, State Rep. Todd Smola, R-Warren, State Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, State Rep. Michael Finn, D-West Springfield, State Rep. Thomas Petrolati, D-Ludlow, State Rep. Angelo Puppolo, D-Springfield, and State Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst.

California: Kennedy Group Puts $2 Million Into Fighting Pot-legalization Measures

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A national coalition that includes Rep. Patrick Kennedy has raised more than $2 million to fight marijuana legalization initiatives in five states this year, including a November ballot measure to legalize recreational pot in California.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana is the anti-legalization group founded by Kennedy and co-founders David Frum, senior editor of the Atlantic; and Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to the Obama administration.

Sabet, president of the group SAM Action, said that California will get a large amount of the money, because its vote affects so many people and is likely to have the biggest influence on other states considering similar proposals.

“If there is one thing we agree on with legalization advocates, it’s that California is important,” said Sabet, explaining why a large share of funding is going to the state.

If approved by voters this November, the ballot measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of pot for recreational purposes and would also impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug.

SAM Action also plans to fund battles against marijuana legalization initiatives on the November ballots in Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine, in addition to Arizona, where signatures have been turned in, according to Sabet.

Arkansas: Medical Marijuana Measure Makes November Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Arkansas Secretary of State's office confirmed last week that the state's medical marijuana measure, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, had submitted enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

The measure would allow for medical marijuana to be produced, tested, and distributed to patients diagnosed by a physician. One of over 50 qualifying conditions would allow patients to access a medical marijuana card. The measure would allow for 38 licensed nonprofit care centers. Patients that wish to grow their own pot must receive a 'hardship certificate' that states they do not live a reasonable distance from one of the care centers.

This will not be the first time Arkansans have voted for legalization.A similar measure was brought to the ballot in 2012, but lost, winning only 48 percent of the vote. Advocates say this time will be different, with polls in the area showing 84 percent support.

Arkansas adds its name to the list of eight (possibly nine) states voting on marijuana initiatives this fall. Florida and Missouri join Arkansas in voting for medical marijuana access. Massachusetts, Nevada, Maine, Arizona, and California are all voting on adult recreational use. Michigan’s measure remains in litigation after the state dubbed their signatures “stale.”

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