Court Case Highlights Need For Continued Federal Protections

3410000930_95fc2866fa_zLast week, a US District Court blocked federal prosecutors from continuing a case against a medical marijuana cultivation company as a result of the current, albeit limited, congressional protections from the Department of Justice.

LA Weekly reported:

Humboldt County growers Anthony Pisarski and Sonny Moore had already pleaded guilty to federal allegations (conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute) but sought an evidentiary hearing based on legislation, first enacted in 2014, that prohibits the U.S. Department of Justice from cracking down on cannabis suspects who are otherwise following their state laws. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is a budget rider, co-authored by SoCal U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, that prevents enforcement and prosecution in medical marijuana states by stripping funding for such endeavors.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg on Tuesday stayed the prosecution, so the case is closed unless the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires and fails to be re-enacted and federal prosecutors want to resume their case. The defendants’ Beverly Hills attorney, Ronald Richards, says: “This is the first time in my 23-year career I’ve had a case stopped because of an appropriations rider.

“What the court did in this case may be used as a blueprint for other cases,” he says. “It opens the door for people not to get scared.”

In response to this verdict, California NORML Executive Director Dale Gieringer said, “It’s significant that a federal court ruled that people targeted by feds and in compliance with California’s medical marijuana laws ruled in the defendants’ favor.”

The Judge’s verdict was predicated on a previous ruling, United States v. McIntosh, a Ninth Circuit decision last year that upheld a medical marijuana defense for those facing federal prosecution in lawful medical states.

“This is the first case I’m aware of where McIntosh was cited and used to full effect,” continued Gieringer.

On July 27, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee to maintain this protection for lawful medical marijuana programs from the Department of Justice.

You can send a message to your Representative to support this language in the House by clicking HERE. 

 

Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017

mj_researchRepresentatives Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD-01), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) introduced H.R. 3391: The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017.

This Act amends the federal law to facilitate clinical investigations involving the use of cannabis and cannabis-derived products.

As you may know, there are many benefits to medical cannabis. Those suffering from PTSD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, and many other debilitating conditions have found relief because of medical marijuana.  

But, despite the fact that over 200 million Americans now have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, present regulations make clinical investigations involving cannabis needlessly onerous. Passage of this measure would expedite federal reviews of clinical protocols, provide greater access to scientists who wish to study the drug, and mandate an FDA review of the relevant science.

Please click HERE to contact your Representative and urge him/her to support this important measure.

 

Washington State Responds To Attorney General Sessions’ Veiled Threats

Jeff_Sessions_(29299022521)As first reported by Tom Angell of MassRoots.com, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson responded to a July 24 letter from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in which Sessions’ made multiple allegations all based on a single misleading 2016 report.

One would say, they didn’t pull any punches:

“Your letter, citing the March 2016 Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA) report on marijuana in Washington, makes a number of allegations that are outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information.”

 

Cutting right to the heart of the matter, i.e. facts, the Washington state leaders again articulated their desire to educate the (seemingly willing) ignorant Sessions.

“We have twice requested an in-person meeting with you because we believe it will lead to better understanding than exchanging letters. If we can engage in a more direct dialogue, we might avoid this sort of miscommunication and make progress on the issues that are important to both of us. We therefore reiterate our request to meet with you, followed by further appropriate meetings between state and DOJ officials.”

 

One of the most basic functions of government is to simply provide consistency and certainty in law enforcement. So after repeated efforts by the state’s leadership to receive clarification, basic facets of the Department of Justice’s approach are still unknown. In yet another attempt for guidance, the Governor and state Attorney General requested information on:

  • Whether DOJ intends to follow recommendations from its Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety—in particular, its reported recommendation to continue previous federal policy on state legalization of marijuana.
  • Whether President Trump’s previous statements of support for medical marijuana, and leaving recreational marijuana legalization to the states, represent the policy of the federal government.
  • Whether DOJ will support reasonable federal policies allowing financial institutions to provide service to licensed marijuana businesses, in order to avoid the public safety risks and transparency problems associated with all-cash businesses.
  • How state-regulated marijuana should be treated by the federal government following the President’s declaration that the opioid crisis constitutes a national emergency, and whether the federal government will support objective, independent research into the effects of marijuana law reform on opioid use and abuse.
  • Whether the federal government will help protect public health by supporting agricultural research on the safety of pesticides used in marijuana cultivation.
  • Whether the federal government will support research into expedited roadside DUI testing methods for law enforcement, as alternatives to blood draws.

 

How Attorney General Sessions will respond, only time will tell.

You can click HERE to send a message to your Representative to urge their support for The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, bipartisan legislation to prevent the Department of Justice from enforcing federal prohibition in states that have chosen to legalize medical or adult-use marijuana.

You can view the full letter from Governor Inslee and AG Ferguson below:

Washington Officials Respond to Sessions Marijuana Letter by tomangell on Scribd

SMART Bill Reintroduced in Congress

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1)

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1)

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) has reintroduced the State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance (SMART) Enforcement Act (H.R. 3534). This bill prohibits state-sanctioned marijuana consumers and businesses from being prosecuted by the federal government.

By a margin of more than 6 to 1, Americans say that individual states should be able to make their own laws governing the use and sale of marijuana. The SMART Enforcement Act acknowledges this voter sentiment while also ensuring states are operating in a safe and responsible manner.

In a prepared statement, Congresswoman DelBene says that her legislation “will fix the conflict between state and federal law by giving states effectively regulating marijuana themselves, such as Washington, a waiver from the Controlled Substances Act. It also resolves the banking issues currently forcing dispensaries to operate on an unsafe, all-cash basis. These waivers will ensure people in states that have different laws than the federal government on marijuana are protected from prosecution, provided they meet certain requirements, as more and more states work to regulate marijuana within their own borders.”

Legislation similar to this is pending in California, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws. As Congresswoman DelBene said, “People in these states should not live in fear of the unpredictable actions of the Attorney General and Department of Justice.”

Click HERE to urge your Representatives to support this legislation.

Register for the 2017 NORML Conference

take_actionNORML’s 2017 Conference at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, DC and Congressional Lobby Day at the United States Capitol is scheduled for September 10th-12th. Hundreds of marijuana consumers, activists, patients and business owners are expected to attend a day-long training and informational conference on Monday and re-convene on The Hill Tuesday to personally lobby their elected members of the House of Representatives and Senate.

Whether you’re a longtime activist, college student, medical marijuana patient, or simply a NORML supporter, consider taking this all important step to directly lobby your members of Congress in support of common sense marijuana law reform. During your stay, you will meet and network with like minded activists from across the country, and your time on Capitol Hill will ensure that our message is brought face-to-face to those in Congress who need to hear it the most.

Click here to sign up now

We will be lobbying for expanded protections for those states that have reformed their laws, and to protect the progress that we have made from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his rogue Justice Department. Time and time again, AG Sessions has made it clear that he thinks those of us who consume cannabis are “not good people.” We will be in the halls of Congress to set the record straight.

Sunday, September 10
DMV NORML Coalition Welcome Reception & Vanguard Awards
(Hosted by the DC, MD, and VA Chapters of NORML)

Where: Dew Drop Inn (2801 8th St NE, Washington, District of Columbia 20017)
When: 7pm
FB Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/517232688618953/

The DMV NORML Coalition, composed of DC NORML, Maryland NORMLand Virginia NORML, invites you to the Welcome Reception for the 2017 NORML Conference. You’ll enjoy an evening networking with activists from around the country, NORML leaders, and local legislators. The Coalition will present their annual Vanguard Awards to three lawmakers from the DMV who have significantly impacted marijuana policy reform. Proudly sponsored by Kulture

Monday, September 11
NORML 2017 Conference

Where: Capital Hilton (1001 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036)
When: 9am – 5:30pm (Coffee and light refreshments will be served from 9am-10am)

Agenda includes:
– Putting the Grass in Grassroots Activism (How to Reform Marijuana Laws at the State and Local Level)
– Our States Legalized Marijuana, Now What?
– Smoke the Vote: How Marijuana Can Win at the Ballot Box
– Shifting the Overton Window To Get To 51 (and 218 in the House) (How to Effectively Lobby your Federal Officials Training)
– Marijuana Regulation: Impacts on Health and Safety — The Evidence to Date
– Let My People Grow? Principles Versus Pragmatism in Marijuana Law Reform
– Legalization as an Economic Stimulus

We will also have a very special awards presentation and keynote speakers to be announced shortly.

End Prohibition Again!
(Prohibition Era Themed NORML Benefit Party)

Where: Attendees will receive the secret venue location in advance of the conference, optional shuttle service from the Capital Hilton to the venue to be provided.
When: 7pm

Tuesday, September 12
NORML Lobby Day

Where: Congress
When: 9am – 4pm

We will meet in the morning in a reserved room on the hill. Registrants will meet with the offices of their elected officials throughout the day as scheduled (NORML staff will be assisting with setting up these meetings, so please register as soon as possible so we can start booking those with your specific officials). After lobbying we will reconvene one final time for happy hour drinks and to share stories of our efforts at a local establishment.

Please register ASAP if you haven’t already so we can better plan scheduled lobby meetings and anticipate the number of attendees.

Get your tickets now!

See you in September,
The NORML Team

Poll: Americans’ Support For Marijuana Law Reform At All Time High

legalization_pollA record percentage of American voters support reforming the nation’s marijuana laws, according to polling data released by Quinnipiac University.

Sixty-one percent of voters believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States” — the highest percentage ever reported by the poll. Support for legalization is strongest among those between the ages of 35 to 49 (77 percent), those between the ages of 18 and 34 (71 percent), Democrats (70 percent), and Independents (67 percent). Support is weakest among those age 65 or older (42 percent) and Republicans (37 percent).

With regard to the use of medical cannabis, 94 percent of voters say that adults ought to be able to legally consume it therapeutically. Among those polled, no group expressed less than 90 percent support for the issue.

Finally, 75 percent of voters oppose “the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.” Super-majorities of every group polled, except for Republicans (59 percent), hold this position.

The Quinnipiac poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.

Bill To Exclude Hemp From The Controlled Substances Act

hempfieldCongressman James Comer (R-KY-1) and 15 co-sponsors have reintroduced legislation to amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp.

Currently, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 labels hemp as a Schedule I drug.

H.R. 3530 excludes low-THC strains of cannabis grown for industrial purposes from the federal definition of marijuana.

The majority of US states have already enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and allowing for its cultivation. In 2014, members of Congress approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant.

All parts of the hemp plant can be cultivated and used to produce everyday household items. It can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials such as clothing, paper, construction materials, and biofuel. Not only is it useful, but growing hemp is much more environmentally friendly than traditional crops.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.

Click HERE to urge your Representative to support this legislation.

 

Opioid Commission To Trump: Declare Emergency, Ignore Science

Per The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s commission on the opioid crisis asked him Monday to declare a national emergency to deal with the epidemic.

The members of the bipartisan panel called the request their “first and most urgent recommendation.”

Mr. Trump created the commission in March, appointing Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to lead it. The panel held its first public meeting last month and was supposed to issue an interim report shortly afterward but delayed doing so until now. A final report is due in October.

The initial recommendations are completely silent to the fact that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

Chris Christie, sitting Governor of New Jersey until Jan. 17, 2018

Chris Christie, sitting Governor of New Jersey until Jan. 17, 2018

Over the last two months, over 8,000 voters contacted the Office of National Drug Control Policy commission, chaired by marijuana prohibitionist Chris Christie, with their personal stories and the relevant science to encourage the group to support medical marijuana as part of the approach to reduce the tragic effects of the opioid crisis. This effort was undertaken both by NORML and Marijuana Majority.

Governor Christie has zero percent credibility on drug policy, or any other policy, for that matter,” Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML said to Forbes of Christie at the time of his appointment to head the commission.

Nonetheless, this administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has continued to express skepticism with regard to the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana. Now, we now know that the President’s opioid commission is not interested in real solutions, but rather more empty rhetoric.

We have until October until the final report is to be issued.

Click here to send a message to the ONDCP commission to yet again tell them the facts and if you have one, please share your personal on how marijuana is a safer alternative to opioids. 

 

The Marijuana Justice Act Introduced In Senate

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) has introduced comprehensive marijuana reform legislation, the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017.

The bill would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Click here to watch the video of Senator Booker discussing the bill.

“Not only is it imperative we end our failed experiment of marijuana prohibition, we must also ensure justice for those who suffered most under these draconian policies,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “We applaud Senator Booker for introducing this robust legislation that would not only remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, but provide a path forward for the individuals and communities that were most disproportionately targeted by our nation’s failed war on marijuana consumers.”

Thirty states, Washington, DC and the US territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis, while an estimated 63 million Americans now reside in jurisdictions where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. Voters overwhelmingly support these policy changes. According to a 2017 Quinnipiac University poll, 59 percent of Americans support full marijuana legalization and 71 percent believe that states, not the federal government, should set marijuana policy.

To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safetycrime ratestraffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue. Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that 123,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid useabusehospitalizations, and mortality.

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Senate Committee Passes Amendment To Protect Medical Marijuana

Senator Patrick Leahy

Senator Patrick Leahy

Today, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee to protect lawful medical marijuana programs from the Department of Justice.

Initially enacted by Congress in 2014, the amendment maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” Last August, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the language bars the federal government from taking legal action against any individual involved in medical marijuana-related activity absent evidence that the defendant is in clear violation of state law.

The decision to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment language by the Senate committee illustrates both compassion and common sense when it comes to marijuana policy. Now, the majority of states and over 90 percent of the public approves of the use of marijuana as a medicine and Congress should not stand in the way of these reforms.

Whether or not the House of Representatives will take a vote on the amendment is unclear. They did not include its language in the version of the 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) bill that passed the House Appropriations Committee earlier this month. Last year, the amendment passed on the floor of the House by a vote of 242-186.

Although the amendment was reauthorized by Congress in May as part of a short term spending package, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been aggressively lobbying leadership to ignore the provisions. President Trump also issued a signing statement objecting to the Rohrbacher-Blumenauer provision.

You can send a message to your Representative to support this language in the House by clicking HERE. 

 

Vote Expected Tomorrow On Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuanaTomorrow, the Senate Appropriations Committee will have to decide: Will they protect our nation’s 2 million lawful medical marijuana patients or subject them to the wrath of Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

The amendment they will be debating, known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, simply prevents the United States Department of Justice from spending any of our tax dollars enforcing federal marijuana prohibition against the 30 states which have now, or are in the process of, implementing a medical cannabis system.

Tell your Senators to protect patients by supporting the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment

There is NO moral reason to punish qualified patients and veterans from accessing marijuana for its therapeutic effects. Recently released data has revealed that the enactment of medical cannabis access is associated with lower rates of opioid abuse and mortality, and does not negatively impact workplace safety, teen use rates, or motor vehicle safety.

Yet, in a letter to members of Congress on May 1, Sessions demanded the end of Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, citing: “The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

This is the delusional leadership we have coming out of the Justice Department. A man who equates those suffering from PTSD, cancer, AIDS, and other dire medical conditions to members of violent drug cartels.

We cannot allow Jeff Sessions to be the only one communicating with Congress. SEND A MESSAGE TO YOUR SENATORS NOW.

House Committee Blocks Veterans Equal Access Amendments

3410000930_95fc2866fa_zTwo weeks ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24-7 to include the Veterans Equal Access amendment, introduced by Senator Daines (R-MT) as part of the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which would expand much needed medical marijuana access to our nation’s veterans.

Yet House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) decided that he did not want the full House to be able to vote on this critical amendment.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the amendments lead sponsor, testified before the committee that it was “a critical area of literally life and death.”

Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications to treat conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction on a scale of post-traumatic symptom scores following cannabis therapy. This is why, in recent months, two of the largest veterans’ rights groups — AMVETS and the American Legion —  have resolved in favor of patients’ access to cannabis therapy.

Last year, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 MilCon-VA bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

It is time that lawmakers stop playing politics with veterans’ health and pass and enact this amendment. There is still the possibility of the Senate’s amendment making it through the conference committee so make your voice heard.

You can send a message to your elected officials in support of veterans having access to medical marijuana by clicking HERE.

WATCH: Marijuana in the Halls of Congress

Yesterday, NORML moderated a Facebook Congressional Conversation on marijuana law reform with Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Tom Garrett, Beto O’Rourke, and Justin Amash.

We discussed a wide range of issues including the needless burden of the federal driver’s license suspension mandate, access to medical marijuana, racial injustice, and pending bipartisan legislation to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

WATCH NOW:

Share on Facebook  |  Share on Twitter

The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. Only when lawmakers speak honestly about the effects of prohibition and the senseless burdens it imposes on our communities will we be able to win substantial reform.

“At a time when 29 states and the District of Columbia have made the decision to regulate the sale and use of marijuana, we should rethink how the federal government approaches this drug. Our current approach to marijuana prevents legitimate medical use, fills our prisons with nonviolent offenders and continues to fuel drug violence,” said Representative Beto O’Rourke in a statement promoting the event.

In our continued effort to educate the lawmakers and the public, events like this will be able to open the eyes of those who have willfully ignored the issue.

NORML chapters throughout the country are working to advance legalization in state legislatures and, with your support, National NORML will continue to up the pressure in Washington, DC.

Click here to share the video through your networks and support efforts like this in the future. 

 

Uruguay: Retail Cannabis Sales Begin Today

Select pharmacies in Uruguay are now dispensing marijuana to adults, under regulations that went into effect today.

Sixteen pharmacies are presently licensed to engage in cannabis sales, and some 5,000 adults so far have registered with the state to purchase marijuana products — which are capped at a price of $1.30 per gram.

Sales to foreign tourists are not permitted under the law.

Federal officials initially approved legislation in 2013 lifting Uruguay’s criminal prohibition of the plant. Under the policy change, citizens may cultivate up to six plants per household, and engage in collective cultivation as part of membership clubs. Rules and regulations governing the distribution of marijuana for medical purposes are overseen by the Ministry of Public Health.

Senate Committee Overwhelmingly Passes Veterans Equal Access Amendment

Marijuana medicineToday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24-7 to include the Veterans Equal Access amendment as part of the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which would expand much needed medical marijuana access to our nation’s veterans.

Presently, V.A. doctors in states where cannabis therapy is permitted are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a medical cannabis recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician.

Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications to treat conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction on a scale of post-traumatic symptom scores following cannabis therapy. This is why, in recent months, two of the largest veterans’ rights groups — AMVETS and the American Legion —  have resolved in favor of patients’ access to cannabis therapy.

The amendment was introduced by Senator Daines, R-Montana for the second year in a row. Last year, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

The 24-7 roll call was an increase over last years 20-10 appropriations passage. The changes came from Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) all voting “aye” after having voted against the effort last year and both new members of the committee, Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) voting in favor.

Identical language is expected to receive a vote in the House later this year. Keep an eye on NORML’s Act page for that and other changes.

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