I recently put together a list of the Top 10 Marijuana Victories in 2010. I wanted to take a moment to share that list with you, because through the support of our members, MPP played a significant role in half of the items on the list and provided ancillary support for another four items. This means that 90% of the major marijuana victories in 2010 were supported by MPP's members. As you look over the list, please consider joining MPP and donating today so that a year from now we can reflect back on even larger successes!
Top 10 Marijuana Victories in 2010 (in no particular order)
1. NEW JERSEY LEGALIZES MEDICAL MARIJUANA
2010 started with a bang when New Jersey's outgoing Democratic governor signed a bill that made New Jersey the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana. (Unfortunately, the new Republican governor has conspired with his state health department to delay and subvert the new law from taking effect and -- now one year later -- patients still do not have legal access to medical marijuana.)
2. WASHINGTON, D.C. LEGALIZES MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Voters in our nation's capital passed a medical marijuana initiative with 69% of the vote in November 1998. After Congress blocked that law from taking effect 11 years in a row, Congress finally removed the federal ban in the fall of 2009, and in 2010 the D.C. City Council passed legislation to implement the local law. While the D.C. law is more restrictive than we'd like, five medical marijuana dispensaries will be opening up within a short cab ride of Capitol Hill by the middle of 2011.
3. ARIZONA LEGALIZES MEDICAL MARIJUANA
By a mere 50.13% to 49.87% margin, Arizona voters passed MPP's medical marijuana initiative in November, making Arizona the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana. As a result, approximately 125 dispensaries will open up around the state by mid-2011. This campaign was successful despite severely limited resources, with MPP spending only $0.10 for each Arizona resident.
4. CALIFORNIA INITIATIVE DEMONSTRATES RECORD SUPPORT FOR LEGALIZATION
While Prop. 19 failed at the polls on Election Day, this ballot initiative still represents significant progress for our movement. First, the initiative received the highest level of support (46.54%) of any of the eight legalization initiatives ever to be placed on a statewide ballot. Second, the initiative received support from mainstream political institutions, such as the California affiliates of the NAACP and SEIU, the Latino Voters League, the National Latino Officers Association, and the National Black Police Association. Third, the initiative generated gobs of in-state and national news coverage, making marijuana legalization a respectable topic of political debate. Fourth, the campaign inspired the local governments and voters of three cities to pass laws that will automatically tax marijuana sales once they are legal under state law.
5. MARIJUANA-FRIENDLY GOVERNORS ELECTED IN THREE STATES
For the first time in memory, three gubernatorial candidates who are well known to be supportive of decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing medical marijuana were elected on the same day -- Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Dan Malloy (D-CT), and Peter Shumlin (D-VT). As a result, all three states are likely to pass favorable legislation in 2011.
6. THREE STATES REGULATE/EXPAND MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWS
While state governments sometimes tweak their existing medical marijuana laws, Colorado's government did much more than that in 2010 when it passed a new law for issuing approximately 2,000 licenses to medical marijuana retailers, growers, and kitchens; as a result, medical marijuana businesses are now scattered around the state like pharmacies. Also, Maine's health department issued regulations to establish eight medical marijuana dispensaries, building on the MPP-authored ballot initiative that Mainers passed with nearly 59% of the vote in November 2009. And, to close out 2010, New Mexico's health department increased the number of dispensaries in the state to 25.
7. LOCAL INITIATIVE VICTORIES IN FOUR STATES
In Massachusetts, voters in nine legislative districts passed initiatives recommending that medical marijuana be legalized on the state level; in another nine legislative districts, Massachusetts voters recommended that marijuana be legalized entirely. In Wisconsin, voters in two local jurisdictions urged their state legislature to legalize medical marijuana. In California, voters in two cities blocked dispensaries from being banned. And in Colorado, voters in 8 cities and counties voted to allow dispensaries (this overt support is significant, even though voters in another 34 Colorado municipalities decided to ban dispensaries).
8. VETERANS AFFAIRS RECOGNIZES MEDICAL MARIJUANA
For the first time since 1978, a federal agency recognized marijuana's therapeutic value when the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs issued a new policy in 2010, stating that veterans who use medical marijuana legally under state law would no longer be denied other prescription medications or treatments.
9. TWO GOOD COURT DECISIONS IN CALIFORNIA
In the "Anaheim" case, a California appellate court found that federal law doesn't prevent cities and counties from licensing medical marijuana dispensaries. And in a separate case, a California superior court blocked an L.A. City Council ordinance that would have wiped out most dispensaries in the second largest city in the U.S. (Neither case has reached its final conclusion yet, however.)
10. CALIFORNIA IMPROVES EXISTING DECRIMINALIZATION LAW
In 1975, California decriminalized marijuana, meaning that people who were apprehended with up to an ounce of marijuana could not face jail time. In 2010, the California government improved this law by changing marijuana possession from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction, meaning that -- in addition to not facing jail time -- small-time marijuana offenders will no longer have to appear before a judge, pay court costs or hire a lawyer, or get stuck with a criminal record.
Thank you for helping to make 2010 such a phenomenal success. We hope you can all join us in making 2011 another year of which we can be proud.
To contact MPP, please click here or reply to this e-mail. Our mailing address is Marijuana Policy Project, 236 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20002. Any donations you make to MPP may be used for political purposes, such as supporting or opposing candidates for federal office.