WASHINGTON, DC — The Marijuana Policy Project, which has been instrumental in passing marijuana law reform in several states over the past 18 years, has announced a strategic plan or 2013 that focuses heavily on marijuana reform in New England, legalization efforts in California and Oregon, and lobbying at the national level.
Topping the list of realistic expectations for 2013 is a marijuana decriminalization effort in Vermont. Gov. Pete Shumlin (D), a strong supporter of decriminalizing marijuana, partially campaigned on the issue and easily won reelection on November 6 with 58% of the vote. The Vermont legislature is poised to pass the bill he wants, so this legislation could become law by this summer.
Also high on MPP’s radar is New Hampshire, the only New England state that does not yet allow medical marijuana. Expect Incoming Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), who is a strong supporter of medical marijuana, to sign a medical marijuana bill similar to those vetoed by former Gov. John Lynch (D) in 2009 and 2012. Medical marijuana has strong support from New Hampshire voters and lawmakers alike.
In Rhode Island, MPP strategists hope to continue a track record of success at the state house that began with 2009’s medical marijuana bill, followed by last year’s successful decriminalization bill. There is now considerable momentum to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, and Rhode Island’s state legislature could becomes the first to do so. Colorado and Washington’s successful marijuana legalization measures were voter approved.
MPP also hopes to push for legalize, tax and regulate bills in Maine, where voter support is among the highest in the nation. Should the legislature fail to pass marijuana legalization on their own, MPP plans to introduce local tax and regulate initiatives in 2014, leading up to a potential statewide ballot measure to legalize adult use of cannabis in Maine in 2016. Maine voters overwhelmingly legalized medicinal marijuana in 1999, with 61 percent voting in favor in the early days of the modern marijuana reform movement.
On the West Coast, there will be a sincere effort to pass T&R bills through the legislatures in California and Oregon, where unsuccessful marijuana legalization bills placed before voters in the past few years failed by narrow margins. If the legislatures in either state fail to enact tax and regulate bills, MPP and its allies will pursue statewide ballot initiatives in November 2016, at which time both will be expected to pass.
At the national level, MPP plans to focus attention on lobbying Congress to end the federal War on Medical Marijuana. There are already approximately 185 members of the U.S. House who want to stop the U.S. Justice Department from spending taxpayer money on raiding medical marijuana businesses in the 18 states (and D.C.) where medical marijuana is legal. The goal is to reach 218 votes on this amendment, thereby ensuring the amendment’s transfer to the U.S. Senate for an up-or-down vote.