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The marijuana election is days away! (This Month in Marijuana - October 2016)
Just over one week from today, voters in nine states will decide on important marijuana ballot questions. Look for Election Day alerts from Marijuana Majority as results come in.
For now, here's a rundown of cannabis news from October...
This Month's Top Marijuana Policy Developments
Here's some of the most important legislative and business news you need to know about from the past month:
Arkansas medical marijuana vote blocked. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that votes for one of the two medical cannabis measures that qualified can't be counted. The ballots have already been printed but, because of a dispute on signature technicalities, the results for Issue 7 won't be tallied and reported.
Here's the full list of statewide marijuana measures voters will consider next Tuesday, November 8:
Arizona: Full legalization - Proposition 205
Arkansas: Medical cannabis - Issue 6
California: Full legalization - Proposition 64
Florida: Medical cannabis - Amendment 2
Maine: Full legalization - Question 1
Massachusetts: Full legalization - Question 4
Montana: Restore state's existing medical cannabis law - Initiative 182
Nevada: Full legalization - Question 2
North Dakota - Medical cannabis - Measure 5
Early voting is already happening. You don't have to wait until November 8 to cast your vote on marijuana or other issues you care about. In many states, the election is taking place right now, as you read this. Polls show us ahead in most races, but the margin is too close for comfort in many. Don't miss your chance to make your voice heard and to help make history!
State legislators prepare marijuana reforms for 2017 and beyond. Even though most state legislatures have been out of session for the past few months, lawmakers across the country took action in October to ready cannabis bills to be introduced soon:
In Delaware, the Senate majority whip said she will introduce a bill to legalize marijuana in January.
New Mexico lawmakers met for a short special session this month. The Senate approved bills to expand the state's medical cannabis program and allow industrial hemp, but the House didn't vote on the measures. After a normal session begins early next year, advocates expect the legislature to seriously consider putting a full legalization question on the state's ballot for voters to decide on.
In Utah, lawmakers met to get a head start debating medical marijuana proposals that they expect to vote on in 2017. A medical cannabis bill was approved this year by the Senate but died in the House.
The Senate president in New Jersey took a trip to visit legal marijuana stores in Colorado and came back predicting that the Garden State could legalize cannabis as soon as 2018.
In Tennessee, a state representative says he'll introduce a bill to bring state law into line with recently enacted local marijuana policies in Memphis and Nashville.
Feds drop case against U.S.'s oldest medical marijuana dispensary. Backing down in the face of undeniable political change, federal prosecutors are moving to dismiss a longstanding case against California's Berkeley Patients Group.
Marijuana reform advances locally. The Memphis, Tennessee City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization proposal this month similar to a policy Nashville enacted in September. Now, Shelby County and other cities across the state are looking at doing the same. Elsewhere, the East Lansing, Michigan City Council passed an ordinance completely removing the penalty for possessing an ounce of marijuana. The New Lenox, Illinois Village Board voted to decriminalize cannabis. The Norfolk, Virginia City Council discussed adding statewide marijuana decrim to its official legislative agenda, with a vote expected next month.
Cannabis reform goes global. This month we also saw major developments outside the U.S. In the Cayman Islands, officials gave initial approval to legalizing medical cannabis oil. The Barbados health ministry is examining medical marijuana. And the new leader of the United Nations, former Portugal president António Guterres, oversaw that country's enactment of a law decriminalizing all drugs. That could bode well for more anti-prohibition efforts around the world.
Marijuana opponents raise big money to continue criminalization. This month campaigns to defeat the legalization and medical cannabis measures on state ballots raked in millions of dollars in donations from some unseemly supporters: A company that provides food to prisons, Big Pharma, the alcohol industry, a casino billionaire and a rich art professor who thinks marijuana use leads to violence and terrorism.
Their money will fund hours of Reefer Madness attack ads on TV to scare voters away from enacting change. Are you going to let them frame the debate about what legalization means?
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Look Who's Speaking Out For Marijuana Reform
These are just some of the voices speaking out for much-needed changes to cannabis laws in the last month:
Congressman Tom McClintock:
"Legalization takes the criminal profit out of the equation, and allows us to regulate marijuana the same way we currently regulate alcohol. This should make it more difficult for minors to obtain marijuana; it should remove illegal cultivation from our neighborhoods and forests and move it to normal agricultural operations; and it should replace the criminal gangs that traffic marijuana with law-abiding farmers and shopkeepers."
Musician Jimmy Buffett:
"Medical marijuana: Duh! All it took was for me to fall off the stage in Australia and have to get serious medical attention afterwards, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that medical marijuana is a great cure."
U.S. Senator Mike Lee:
"I think it would make the most sense to allow states the option of deciding what medical treatments are appropriate and legal within that state, rather than having that decision made by government bureaucrats in Washington."
Epilepsy Foundation of Florida:
"Florida's epilepsy patients should have available whatever treatment options their doctors recommend, including medical marijuana."
Fox News's Geraldo Rivera:
"Tax and regulate legal marijuana. Use the money for education and/or infrastructure. Put the cabals and cartels out of business."
California Attorney General Kamala Harris:
"The reality is that I believe the voters are gonna pass that initiative, and recreational marijuana will be legal in the state of California... We have incarcerated a large number of predominantly African-American and Latino men in this country for possession and use at a very small scale of one of the least dangerous of all of the drugs in [Schedule I]."
Actress Olivia Wilde:
"I am shocked and saddened by the harm that marijuana criminalization brings, especially for communities of color. Being a mother, I'm deeply invested in reform that will lead to a more just and peaceful world for all our kids. It's time to end the harm."
New York Times editorial board:
"States are driving the change in marijuana policy because they see the damage created by draconian drug laws on communities, families and state budgets. It’s time the federal government acknowledged these costs and got out of the way of states adopting more rational laws."
Comedian Pete Davidson:
"I got Crohn's disease... My stomach would just be in pain all day and I wouldn't be able to eat. And then I'd smoke and I'd be able to eat, I'd be able to do my shows. I wouldn't be able to do SNL if I didn't smoke weed. I wouldn't be able to do anything, really."
United Farm Workers:
"Proposition 64 will bring legal justice and job training to communities of color that have been cynically targeted by the failed war on marijuana. It also extends strong worker and safety protections for those who toil in the fields of this industry and work in every part of the supply chain."
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Your Donations At Work: Marijuana Majority In The News
This month media outlets continued to see Marijuana Majority as a go-to source for pro-legalization quotes and context:
As Election Day approaches, the marijuana ballot measures are getting a lot of attention from the press. Marijuana Majority is always there to help lay out what's at stake for our movement:
The Atlantic - Marijuana's Moment
The Hill - Four more states likely to legalize pot
Rolling Stone - This Election Could Determine the Future of Legal Pot in America
Detroit Metro Times - Election Day: a watershed moment for pot
When the New York Times published an op-ed urging people to stop using marijuana and other drugs because of violence committed by cartels that sell them, Marijuana Majority responded with a letter to the editor pointing out that only legalization can take cannabis profits away from organized crime:
New York Times - Ways to End the Violence Tied to Drug Abuse
After a series of national polls came out showing that a growing majority of Americans support legalization, we stepped in to remind politicians that they need to listen to the people:
Associated Press - Gallup: Record high 60 percent of Americans back legal pot
The Hill - Survey: Most Americans support pot legalization
Washington Times - More than half of U.S. adults want to legalize marijuana
Business Insider - It's clear why support for legalizing marijuana is at an all-time high
McClatchy - With pot votes set in 9 states, poll finds 57 percent back legalized marijuana
Forbes - American Support of Legal Marijuana Is At Its Highest Level Ever
In a blast from the past, Rhode Island's biggest newspaper looked back at how my mom and I teamed up to legalize medical marijuana in our home state over a decade ago:
Providence Journal - Three students lit up campaign for medical pot
Marijuana Majority helped shine a spotlight on how people who consume cannabis still face discrimination and risk losing their jobs even in states with legalization:
McClatchy - Punch the clock and pass the brownies
At a time when Big Pharma, casino owners and alcohol companies are bankrolling prohibition campaigns, we called out the marijuana industry for not doing enough to help support the ongoing work of our movement that has allowed them to exist in the first place:
Washington Post - A casino magnate is spending millions to fight legal marijuana
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Coming Up Next...
What happens next Tuesday will determine the course of our movement for the next year and beyond. If voters approve all or most of the nine marijuana ballot measures, we have a real shot of translating our political power into the end of federal prohibition much sooner than anyone thought.
But if we suffer a large number of embarrassing defeats, many lawmakers could be scared away and won't want to sponsor or vote for marijuana law reform bills in the next Congress.
A lot is at stake! So please: Make your voice heard by voting.
Please also chip in and make a contribution to Marijuana Majority's efforts to keep shaping the public debate about the need to legalize cannabis.
Thanks for all you do to help build the movement,
Founder and Chairman