Public health and safety advocates, including Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and its state affiliates, are celebrating a year of victories against the growing marijuana industry as multiple marijuana legalization bills failed from coast-to-coast.
(1) NORTH DAKOTA GAVE THE INDUSTRY THE BOOT – RESOUNDINGLY
Healthy and Productive North Dakota, SAM’s affiliate in the Peace Garden State, and other supporters, worked hard and defeated Proposition 1 by the second-highest margin in the recent history of such ballot measures. This proposition would have created one of the worst recreational marijuana laws in the country.
The truly grassroots, volunteer coalition there stopped Big Marijuana from taking root.
(2) GARDEN STATE POT WOES: “FIRST 100 DAYS”? I DON’T THINK SO…
After promising to legalize pot within 100 days of taking office in 2017, New Jersey will enter 2019 with no recreational marijuana market, thanks to the hard work of parents and advocates across the state. SAM Action, New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (NJ-RAMP), and partners have successfully worked to slow down the effort. Murphy and company simply do not have the votes to legalize pot in the Garden State.
(3) ILLINOIS PRO-POT POLITICIANS DIDN’T STAND A CHANCE
In Illinois, Healthy and Productive Illinois (HPIL) worked diligently in conjunction with local leaders, including students from Adlai Stephenson High School, to defeat a bill that would have put the question of marijuana commercialization on the ballot.
In April, HPIL, SAM, and Stephenson High School Students held a press conference highlighting a cost report that found marijuana legalization would cost the state of Illinois upwards of $670 million, far outweighing prospective tax revenues. After this, pro-pot politicians lost traction on their plan and the session ended with no legalization.
(4) VERMONT SAID “NOT SO FAST”
In Vermont, several legislators attempted a “Hail Mary” by trying to quickly move a bill to legalize retail sales late in the session. SAM Vermont stepped in and brought about a victory for public health as the bill was overwhelmingly voted down in the House of Representatives.
(5) POT GOES DOWN THE DRAIN IN DELAWARE
In June, the Delaware House of Representatives shot down a bill seeking to legalize marijuana in the First State. By a vote of 21-15, state lawmakers deflated the hopes of Big Marijuana at expanding into the state and stood strong in support of public health and safety.
Governor John Carney repeatedly stated that he was opposed to legalization and a large coalition of police groups, doctors, hospitals, and several of the state’s largest employers led by Keep Delaware Healthy and Safe, a SAM Affiliate, and AAA-Mid-Atlantic, rose to the occasion to defeat this reckless proposal.
(6) GRANITE STATE STANDS STRONG
In New Hampshire, the House voted to send a bil – which would have allowed possession of three quarters of an ounce and three plants – back to a study committee, which killed the bill for the remainder of the year. New Futures, a SAM partner, worked diligently within the state to urge legislators to heed the lessons of other states that made the mistake of legalizing marijuana.
(7) BIG POT’S BIG POCKETS COULDN’T AFFORD CONNECTICUT
Earlier in April, pro-pot advocates were ready to declare victory in Connecticut as a bill to legalize marijuana was passed out of committee. Fortunately, state lawmakers sided with science and health officials over the pot industry and refused to bring the bill to a vote in either chamber before the session expired. Earlier in the year, the Connecticut chapter of SAM (CT-SAM) released a comprehensive cost study finding that marijuana legalization would cost the state $216 million, far exceeding the projected revenue of $113 million.
(8) RHODE ISLAND AFFILIATE ANNUALLY SMACKS DOWN POT EXPANSION
In Rhode Island, our partners have been extremely successful in fighting back Big Marijuana’s attempts to expand into the state. Their tireless efforts have resulted in legalization bills being defeated in the legislature every year for the last seven years.
Additionally, they have defeated numerous attempts to expand the number of marijuana dispensaries and have succeeded in establishing local control over pot-related zoning ordinances in towns and cities. When the state was rushing to legalize pot, our partners were able to orchestrate the creation of a bi-partisan group to study the potential impacts of legalization on the state.
AND FOR GOOD MEASURE…
We’re not giving up on states like Michigan, where pro-pot interests panicked and poured millions of dollars in at the last minute. In fact, thanks to our inner-city outreach, we outperformed in Detroit and SAM Action’s partner, Healthy and Productive Michigan (HPMI), remains the state voice standing up against the industry. HPMI is now organizing local community “opt-outs” to reject pot shops.
Speaking of opt-outs, Massachusetts should also be mentioned: More than two years after voting in favor of pot, only a small handful of communities have shops up and running. A major opt-out effort has been successful throughout the state, with communities such as Concord, Burlington, Foxboro, and all of Cape Cod opting out of marijuana establishments.
Our efforts in California in helping local communities push back against the industry continue, also. Parents and educators across the state weighed in and kept marijuana out of school nurse office when the marijuana industry wanted it. The League of California Cities is leading efforts to maintain control as Big Pot tries to roll back regulations that prevent billboards and marijuana delivery services. Additionally, 85% of cities and towns in the state have opted out of commercialization.
This last year was one public health advocates can look back on with pride. Advocates across the country all came together to push back on Big Marijuana’s attempts to further their addiction-for-profit scheme and together, we notched resounding victories. That said, we cannot rest on our laurels just yet. The industry will be back next year and will be looking for revenge. Let’s keep working together to keep our nation healthy.