BALTIMORE, MARYLAND — According to several public opinion polls conducted in recent years, a growing majority of Marylanders agree that providing adults access to cannabis under a regulated supply chain produces beHer public health and public safety outcomes than what we have in the unregulated legacy market.
A majority of legislators in the Maryland General Assembly also agree, but popular legalization proposals have failed to move forward.
“Our political institutions have failed us – we continue to have tens-of-thousands of racially biased possession arrests while the Assembly slow-walks reform,” said Luke Jones, Director of the Maryland chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “The reality is even worse when we consider all the avoidable encounters between marijuana consumers and police that don’t lead to an arrest. The general public is fed up with this outrageously expensive, harmful, and racist marijuana prohibition policy,” he said.
Marijuana legalization advocates have promoted reform for more than forty years nationally and have been organized at the state level since popular Baltimore City Mayor Kurt Schmoke helped bring the drug war reform conversation to Maryland in the 1980’s. After years of trying traditional legislative reform efforts on behalf of cannabis consumers and their families, activists have decided to change tactics and are now taking their fight for reform directly to industry insiders who boycott organizers say have an outsized impact on public policy and are actively preventing essential, popular policy reforms.
“We are asking all medical cannabis patients in Maryland to not purchase Culta-brand products during the month of April because Culta owner Mackie Barch is using his wealth and political influence to delay the arrival of expanded personal freedom for the average citizen. Maryland law should protect citizens, not investors. Our laws should facilitate safe business practices, not establish artificial monopolies,” said Jones.
“Mackie Barch lives in one of the most affluent communities in the country and is represented in the General Assembly by Sen. Brian Feldman, a powerful member of the Senate, vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, personal friends with Senate President Bill Ferguson, member of the General Assembly’s marijuana legalization work group, and sponsor of Senate Bill 708, a bill drafted by Mackie Barch to help assure limited competition in Maryland’s adult use cannabis market,” said Kris Furnish, co- founder of Maryland Marijuana Justice (MDMJ). “Political corruption, that’s what this is, plain and simple. The cannabis plant belongs to the people, and we should not face jail time if choose to grow our own cannabis instead of purchasing it from Mackie Barch,” she said.
Boycott organizers view current state law as clear evidence of a collusion between elected officials and medical cannabis business owners who curry financial and reputational influence on the legislative process at the expense of individual liberty and personal freedom. “Our laws should protect citizens and facilitate safe business practices, not establish artificial monopolies and compel consumers to purchase products they are perfectly capable of producing for themselves. We need the freedom to grow our own cannabis and to purchase products in a regulated market that has broad small business participation,” said Furnish.
“Mackie Barch is on the dole,” said Jones. “Mr. Barch has essentially admitted that Culta can’t survive without state-protected market access. He is the ring-leader and primary champion for the state licensed cannabis businesses seeking to maintain their state-sponsored monopoly status under the medical program and extend that favorable market position into the adult use market. Senate Bill 708 imposes statutory caps on the number of small businesses that can compete in the legal adult use cannabis market, and that approach is fundamentally unfair and un-American. Mackie Barch paid lobbyists like Vicente Sederberg LLC to develop that bill, and it shows how effective Mr. Barch has been at using his personal wealth and political connections to assure unfettered, state-protected access to marijuana consumers. It is protectionism, it is anti-American, and cannabis consumers won’t stand for it anymore,” said Jones.
Jones continued, “According to Maryland’s 2019 Uniform Crime Report, we had more than 15,000 marijuana possession arrests, all while the medical cannabis industry sells more than $46 million worth of marijuana products to consumers every month. This is evidence that our state policy is designed to serve the interests of industry investors who demand a return on their investments rather than serving the needs of Maryand citizens who live in constant fear of the police. Citizens don’t grow their own cannabis because they are afraid of their own government. Wealthy people like Mackie Barch who grow and sell marijuana receive special protections from the state, but consumers face jail time. Cannabis prohibition is bad public policy and it needs to end this year, not next year.”
Adults may legally buy and use marijuana in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington. Marijuana is also decriminalized in the District of Columbia.
Monday, March 22 is crossover, the last opportunity for the Maryland House of Delegates to move House Bill 32 to the Senate for consideration. Boycott organizers assert that the popular cannabis legalization proposal sponsored by Delegate Jazz Lewis (D-Prince George’s County) would become law if brought to the floor for a vote.
In a Last Ditch Effort to Demand Cannabis Legalization in Maryland, Patients and Activists Will Show Up To The State House With 51ft. Joint3/18/21
ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND — Rally for marijuana legalization to feature the fifty-one foot inflatable joint.
Activists will rally at Lawyer’s Mall at 12:00 Noon on Thursday, March 18, 2021 in a last-ditch effort to legalize cannabis use and possession by adults before the Maryland General Assembly legislative session wraps up.
“The legislative process has failed us, so the people have to stand up and demand that our representatives protect our interests,” said veteran marijuana legalization advocate Luke Jones, Director of Maryland NORML – the prolific state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “We’ve been going to Annapolis year-after-year, with the same message, and they haven’t listened to us. We had more than 15,000 marijuana possession arrests in 2019 alone while the medical cannabis industry sells more than $45 million to consumers every month. Marijuana prohibition is bad public policy and it needs to end this year, not next year.”
Advocates are demanding an end to police encounters and arrests and the right for medical cannabis patients to cultivate cannabis at home for their own personal, non-commercial purposes.
“Being able to grow cannabis for myself not only allows me to save hundreds of dollars each month that I use for other essential expenses, but I love the feeling of being completely self-reliant and in control of my medicine and the process in which it’s grown,” said Kris Furnish, co-founder of Maryland Marijuana Justice, (MDMJ) and former resident of Salisbury who moved to Washington, DC, in order to legally grow her own medical cannabis.
“I’ve been living in DC now for almost a year and during that time I’ve not had to spend one dollar at a dispensary. I do not cultivate cannabis to make untaxed profits, I cultivate cannabis for my own personal use. I take pride in the fact that I don’t spray chemicals on my cannabis and that I’m using natural sunlight instead of negatively contributing to our carbon footprint,” Furnish added.
Fiftyone-foot inflatable joint
According to the March 2021 Goucher College public opinion poll, 66% of Marylanders support legalizing recreational cannabis – with a whopping 77% of Democratic Party voters supporting the policy.
In a dramatic effort to bring attention to the urgency of the issue from the standpoint of the cannabis consumer, rally organizers say they will bring a 50-foot inflatable joint to the rally and march with it down Bladen Street.
“Policy makers tend to make consumers a silent part of the equation – a part of the formula that’s already figured out. They focus on the regulators, the license holders, the investors, and the bankers, and accommodate everyone’s interests, meanwhile, there’s a parent right over here who can’t see her children because the cops came in and found a bong sitting on the table, so she lost her job behind some stupid criminal justice charge. This is something that can’t wait until next year – they have to take care of this now,” said Jones.
“We have people – the police come right through their front door, they find a bong on the coffee table. Can you imagine that life? I’m not running from the police in my affluent neighborhood, but poor people are actually running from the police because of cannabis. We have more than 15,000 arrests each year for marijuana possession alone – and that’s not counting the encounters. We demand freedom from fear – that’s part of the reparations. I hope people can understand that. We deserve it. We’ve been living with the pressure and stigma for too long, and we don’t want to wait another year. We don’t want to have another 15,000 potential George Floyd incidents,” he said.
“Some legislators won’t like seeing the big fiftyone-foot joint, I guess because they like to pretend that people don’t actually use marijuana. We’re saying – we are past that point now. Cannabis consumers are obviously here, and are obviously going to fuel the tax revenue legislators are so excited about, so we might as well call it what it is. It’s a joint – legalize it for goodness’ sake already!” he said.
“We are coming to Annapolis with a fiftyone-foot inflatable joint. There’s nothing wrong with it, and if it makes people feel uncomfortable, what do they think they are legislating for? This is the same joint they had thousands and thousands of years ago, and it’s the same joint they sell in the dispensaries in Maryland right now, and it’s the same joint we will have under a responsible, regulated adult-use market,” said Furnish.
“We are not going to arrest people this summer, then turn around and figure out how to pay to expunge the arrest records next summer – we are not that stupid. We need to stop arresting people this legislative session, and that also means ending the encounters – cannabis consumers don’t want to answer intrusive questions from the police,” said Jones. “This policy ruins people’s lives.”
Marijuana is legal for adults to buy and use in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington. Marijuana is also decriminalized in the District of Columbia.
March 22 is crossover, the last opportunity for the Maryland House of Delegates to send the Senate House Bill 32, a popular cannabis legalization proposal sponsored by Delegate Jazz Lewis (D-Prince George’s County).
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A weekly conference call update on plans for the largest state-wide cannabis policy legislative event of the year – the 2020 Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition Lobby Day in Annapolis on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 (8:30 AM – 4:30 PM).
1. Lobby Day Registration is Open – Please Share Broadly!
In anticipation of an adult use market taking shape for Maryland, we expect a larger number of people joining our lobby day this year in comparison to prior years. We want to include more bills this year as well!
1. Lobby Day: February 2020 Tuesday, February 4, 2020 Tuesday, February 11, 2020 a. Bills having chance of passing – i.e., increase civil penalty threshold from 10g to 113.4g (4 oz) b. Bills that won’t pass
2. Maryland Cannabis Law and Policy Summit Description: On the Monday before Lobby Day, have an all day cannabis law and policy conference. 9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon = review bills (we anticipate 9-12 bills total, some will have a chance to pass, some won’t). Legislators will speak for their bills, attendees can ask questions about the bills. 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM = lobby day training. Roll play, what to expect on lobby day, team up with other people from your same legislative district to strategize, help profile legislators to make civic engagement more effective, etc. Night reception/fundraiser/party with keynote speakers (a). Marilyn Mosby to convey Vanguard Award, and (b). Major Neal Franklin, LEAP re: Law Enforcement and need to change enforcement level.
We want to bring it to the attention of the Maryland General Assembly and the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, (MMCC) that we are doing harm to the environment by not addressing the poor standards we currently have for packaging in the cannabis industry. As we are getting settled and making changes to our medical program, and as we fight to get closer to full legalization in Maryland, we have to remember to think green, REALLY GREEN!
We want your doobtubes, your plastic baggies, your poptops containers, even all that cardboard packaging that you have to tear through just to get to the product! We are taking any and all cannabis packaging. Our goal is to change the regulations to be more environmentally friendly and hopefully set an example to the rest of the country that we need better packaging for ALL products! NO MORE SINGLE USE PACKAGING! JUST SAY NO TO PLASTIC!
Joining Efforts with you, your community, and your local dispensary.
All packaging collected for this demonstration will be donated to “The High 5 Recycling Initiative” to ensure all it is all reused/re-purposed and stays out of our landfills and waterways.
On Tuesday, October 8, 2019, members of DCMJ, MDMJ, VAMJ, and COMJ descended upon the East Lawn of the U.S. Capitol to demand Congress pass meaningful cannabis reform laws. Below are photos & videos from the demonstration which are available for unrestricted use by the media.
Our 10th conference call will be held on Tuesday, September 3rd from 7:30PM – 8:30PM. Dial-in number (US): (605) 313-5635 Access code: 659303# International dial-in numbers: https://fccdl.in/i/kris387 Online meeting ID: kris387 Join the online meeting: https://join.freeconferencecall.com/kris387 If you have agenda item suggestions please email them to email@example.com.