Weekly Legislative Update 6/10/17

revolutionbumperWelcome to this week’s edition of the NORML legislative roundup!

First off, apologies to weekly readers for skipping last week’s update. We held a NORML Legal Committee seminar in Colorado about tactics to continue the fight against prohibition and protect those facing jail and other adverse ramifications of prohibition. You can watch NORML’s Executive Director give the opening welcome HERE and click here to read a write up on it in The Denver Post’s Cannabist HERE.

In the last two weeks, four pieces of legislation that we are supportive of went into law:

Colorado
Senate Bill 17 adds “stress disorders” (PTSD) to the list of debilitating conditions for which a physician may recommend cannabis.

Maryland
House Bill 379 / Senate Bill 949 went into effect May 27 to permit those who received a criminal marijuana possession conviction prior to October 1, 2014, to seek expungement of their records.

Often minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, face the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with having a record, even when the state no longer considers simple possession to be a crime.

Nevada
Assembly Bill 135 eliminates statutes criminalizing the operation of a motor vehicle if a driver has detectable levels of carboxy THC in his/her urine. Carboxy-THC is an non-psychoactive waste product of THC that may be present for days or even weeks post-abstinence. It’s presence in urine is not correlated with psychomotor impairment.

While passage of AB 135 is a step in the right direction, further legislation will continue to be necessary in order to amend Nevada’s traffic safety laws in a manner that no longer inadvertently criminalize responsible adult marijuana consumers in regards to blood testing.

Vermont
SB 16 permits physicians for the first time to recommend medical marijuana to patients with post-traumatic stress, Crohn’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease. The measure also allows physicians to immediately issue medical cannabis recommendations for patients suffering from cancer, a terminal illness, or under hospice care supervision.

Unfortunately, in Montana, SB 333, was signed into law to amend the state’s medical cannabis program, I-182, which voters passed in November.

The measure establishes various rules and regulations regarding the operation of cannabis dispensaries, production facilities, and testing labs. It does not amend the expanded list of qualifying conditions enacted by I-182. However, SB 333 does impose new taxes on medical marijuana gross sales. NORML opposes taxes of medical cannabis. It also reduces the number of seedlings qualified patients are permitted to possess at home from 12 to no more than four. It also imposes limits regarding the total harvest of cannabis permitted per patient.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Alerts
Federal
Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) earlier this year formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the Congressional Cannabis Caucus

California
Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws.

The bill states, “This bill would prohibit a state or local agency, as defined, from taking certain actions without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”

The majority of Californians desire a legally regulated marijuana market. Passage of this act will limit state or local agencies from working with the federal government to undermine these regulations.

Update: AB 1578 passed the Assembly on June 1 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

CA resident? Click here to send a message to your state Senator in support of this effort. 

Louisiana
SB 35 provides explicit exemptions from arrest and prosecution for persons lawfully in possession of medical marijuana.

Presently, state regulators are finalizing rules and regulations governing its nascent medical cannabis program, which seeks to permit the production, dispensing, and use of non-herbal preparations of cannabis for qualified patients. Passage of SB 36 amends various criminal statutes to assure that those involved in the program are not inadvertently subject to criminal liability.

Specifically, it provides immunity from arrest for those enrolled in the program who engage in activities related to the purchase or transportation of medical marijuana related products or paraphernalia. It provides further legal protections for pharmacies, producers, and testing laboratories engaged in medical cannabis related activities.

Update: House members amended and passed SB 35 by a vote of 74 to 21 on June 5. Senate members approved the House changes on June 6. The reconciled bill was transmitted to the Governor.

LA resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor in support of SB 35. 

New Hampshire
After nearly a decade of frustration, 2017 is finally the year that New Hampshire voters successfully see marijuana possession decriminalized.

HB 640, will amend criminal penalties for marijuana possession is pending in the House, where lawmakers have overwhelmingly supported such efforts for eight years in a row. However, legislators this year are hopeful that, for the first time, they also have sufficient votes to also clear the Senate.

Update: The House concurred with the amended Senate bill on June 1 and the bill will soon be transmitted to the Governor.

NH resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor thanking him for his support of decriminalization. 

Rhode Island
Sponsors have announced plans to amend their legislation in a manner that would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, effective July 1, 2018. The amended legislation would also establish an advisory committee to issue a report to the General Assembly by January 1, 2018 with recommendations regarding how best to establish a system for taxing and regulating marijuana in Rhode Island. Sen. Miller said, “We are prepared to compromise in a significant way, but there must be progress on the issue this year. Our proposal balances the will of the majority of voters who want marijuana to be legal for adults while respecting colleagues who want to slow things down and get the regulations right.”

RI resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of this effort. 

Other Actions to Take

Massachusetts
Legislation is pending before the House, H 113, to prohibit employers from discriminating against patients who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours. Additional legislation, H 2385, would expand protections for medical marijuana patients so that they may not be discriminated against with regard to housing, higher education, and child custody issues.

Changes in the legal status of marijuana has not been associated with any adverse changes in workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that legalization is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

MA resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of this effort. 

New Hampshire
Legislation is pending in the New Hampshire House, HB 215, to establish a commission to study the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.

Police in New Hampshire arrest some 2,900 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of New Hampshire adults, 62 percent of whom now endorse legalizing and regulating cannabis, according to a 2016 WMUR Granite State Poll.

Update: The House has adopted the Senate changes. The bill is expected to be transmitted to the Governor imminently.

NH resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor urging him to sign HB 215

Additionally, multiple bills are pending to expand the pool of patients eligible to qualify for medical marijuana therapy.

In particular, these measures would permit patients with conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress to obtain legal access to marijuana.

NH resident? Click here to contact your elected officials to support patients. 

New York
A pair of bills are pending in the Senate to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis.

Senate Bill 6092 expands the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis access to include those with Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and a number of other debilitating diseases. It also removes arbitrary caps imposed on the amount of THC permitted in oral products.

Senate Bill 6308 allows for additional cannabis providers to operate in the state in order to improve patients’ access.

NY resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of these bills. 

Rhode Island
SB 176 is currently pending in the Rhode Island Senate. It amends the state’s Medical Marijuana Act, which currently only permits three medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the entire state, to permit regulators to license up to six total dispensaries.

In recent years, the total number of registered medical cannabis patients in Rhode Island has nearly doubled to more than 17,000 people. It is necessary for regulators to license additional dispensaries in order to keep up with this increased demand.

RI resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort. 

Study: Racial Disparity In Marijuana Arrest Rates Increasing

Cannabis PenaltiesAfrican Americans in Virginia are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at more than three times the rates of whites and this disparity is rising, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Capital News Service.

Researchers reviewed 160,000 state and local arrest records from the years 2010 through 2016. They found that blacks were 2.9 times as likely as whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana in 2010, but 3.2 times as likely to be arrested by 2016.

In some counties and towns, such as in Hanover County and in Arlington, Virginia, the black arrest rate was six to eight times that of whites.

The findings are similar to those of a 2015 report, which determined that the number of African Americans arrested in Virginia for marijuana possession offenses increased 106 percent between the years 2003 and 2014. That study concluded that blacks account for nearly half of all marijuana possession arrests, but comprise only 20 percent of the state population.

A separate analysis of Maryland arrest data determined that African Americans accounted for 58 percent of all marijuana possession arrested despite comprising only 30 percent of the state’s population.

A 016 analysis of California arrest figures concluded that police arrested blacks for marijuana offenses at three and half times the rate of whites. A prior statewide assessment reported that police in 25 of California’s major cities arrested blacks for marijuana possession violations at rates four to twelve times that of caucasians. Similar disparities have been repeatedly reported in other major cities, including New York and Chicago.

A 2013 American Civil Liberties Union study found that nationwide blacks are approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though both ethnicities consume the substance at approximately similar rates.

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/17/2017

revolutionbumperWelcome to this week’s edition of the NORML legislative roundup!

First and foremost, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Fun fact, marijuana is still safer than alcohol. You can read more about it in Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? co-authored by NORML’s own Paul Armentano.

This week we saw “legislative crossover” days dash the hopes of advancement in both Kentucky and Iowa. Additionally, the New Hampshire Senate defeated a legalization effort there, yet we are confident that this is the year when the Granite State finally decriminalizes marijuana.

If you missed it, our monthly national chapter call had updates from Colorado, Delaware, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Washington state on their recent lobbying efforts. You can read more in calls report by clicking here.

The Washington City Paper published a great piece entitled Pot: A Political History which does a wonderful job of giving context to the struggles that we face today after 80 years of marijuana prohibition.

Below are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Alerts

Federal
End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to email your Congressional Representative to urge them to support this crucial legislation.

Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the newly formed Cannabis Caucus

Colorado
Colorado State Senator Bob Gardner and Representative Dan Pabon have introduced legislation, SB 184, The Marijuana Membership Clubs and Public Use Bill, will provide Colorado municipalities with the regulatory framework needed to allow responsible adults the option to socially consume marijuana in a membership club away from the general public.

Update: SB 184 passed the full Senate on Thursday, March 9, by a vote of 25-10 and will now be sent to the House. Gov. Hickenlooper has threatened a veto, saying he opposes any expansion of indoor smoking.

CO Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Connecticut
Multiple pieces of legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate its commercial distribution is pending in both the state House and Senate.

Update: Lawmakers have scheduled a pair of hearings in March to debate these various legalization proposals. Members of the Public Health Committee heard testimony on Tuesday, March 7. Members of the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on Wednesday, March 22.

CT Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

New Mexico
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 258, to reduce penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses.

The measure eliminates criminal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one-half of one ounce of cannabis, reducing the offense to a $50 fine. Under present law, this offense is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 15 days in jail and criminal record.

Update: Members of the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee passed SB 258 on March 14. It must still pass through one additional committee prior to receiving a House floor vote.

NM Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Tennessee
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, are sponsoring the legislature’s most concerted effort to legalize medical use of marijuana.

Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine.

Update: SB 860 was placed on the calendar of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee for March 14 and HB 673 was deferred in Senate Judiciary Committee to March 28.

TN Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Additional Actions To Take

Kansas
Legislation is pending, House Bill 2152, to permit qualified patients access to marijuana or extracts containing CBD and low levels of THC.

The measure would permit patients with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder or a condition causing seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, to possess marijuana or extracts containing no more than three percent THC. The measure also seeks to establish rules governing the state-licensed cultivation of low-THC marijuana strains and the preparation of products derived from such strains.

Update: Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee heard the bill on Wednesday, Match 15 at 1:30pm, Room 546-S.

KS Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Maine
Legislation is pending, LD 1064, to require health insurance policies to cover expenses related to the physician authorized use of medical cannabis.

The measure states, “A carrier offering a health plan in this State shall provide coverage for marijuana for  medical use for an enrollee who has received certification for the medical use of marijuana from a medical provider.”

ME Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Maryland
House and Senate legislation is pending to allow those with past criminal marijuana convictions to have those records expunged.

House Bill 379 / Senate Bill 949 permit those who received a criminal marijuana possession conviction prior to October 1, 2014, to seek expungement of their records.

Update: Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee passed SB 949 on March 9.

MD Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Massachusetts
Legislation is pending before the House, H 113, to prohibit employers from discriminating against patients who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours. Additional legislation, H 2385, would expand protections for medical marijuana patients so that they may not be discriminated against with regard to housing, higher education, and child custody issues.  

Changes in the legal status of marijuana has not been associated with any adverse changes in workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that legalization is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

It is time to end this discriminatory policy.

MA Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Montana
House Bill 529 imposes a special six percent statewide tax upon medical marijuana sales. This tax would be in addition to the imposition of existing state and local taxes.

While NORML generally does not oppose the imposition of fair and reasonable sales taxes on the commercial sales of cannabis for recreational purposes, we do not support such excessive taxation on medical sales. Most other states that regulate medical cannabis sales do not impose such taxes and Montana patients should not be forced to pay these excessive costs.

Update: Members of the House Taxation Committee heard testimony on the bill on March 15. Most witnesses testified against the bill.

MT Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to oppose this effort.

New Mexico
Governor Susana Martinez has vetoed House Bill 144, which sought to establish a hemp research program in compliance with provisions in the federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to engage in licensed activity involving hemp absent federal reclassification of the plant. The Governor provided no public explanation for the veto.

The bill has previously passed the House and Senate by votes of 42 to 26 and 30 to 12 respectively.

Update: Lawmakers have introduced a third hemp research bill, House Bill 530. This bill was passed by the House on March 14 by a vote of 65 to 1, and now awaits senate action.

NM Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Oklahoma
Legislation has been introduced, Senate Bill 704, to provide for hemp cultivation and manufacturing.

The measure excludes industrial hemp from the state’s definition of marijuana and provides for its commercial cultivation and export.

The measure also expands the list of qualifying conditions eligible for CBD treatment under state law. Under this change, patients with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety would be eligible for medicinal cannabis products as long as those formulations are in liquid form and do not exceed 12 percent THC.

OK Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Tennessee
SB 1116 seeks to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine.

Update: SB 1116 has a hearing scheduled for March 28.

TN Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

West Virginia
Legislation by Delegate Hornbuckle of Cabell, House Bill 3035, to legalize and regulate the adult use, production, and sale of marijuana is before members of the House Health and human Resources Committee.

House Bill 3035, allows adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and to cultivate up to six cannabis plants for their own personal use. It also regulates the commercial marijuana market and allows for the production of industrial hemp.

WV Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/11/2017

revolutionbumperWelcome to this week’s edition of the NORML legislative roundup!

At the federal level, aside from a few absurd comments by Attorney General Sessions and new cosponsors to HR 975 and HR 1227, things have been pretty quiet.

At the state level, it is quite a different story. We have continued to see a marked rise in the number of bills introduced pertaining to marijuana, crossing the 1,500 mark. From hearings on marijuana legalization in Maryland to social clubs passing the Senate in Colorado to hemp passing the both chambers in the New Mexico statehouse, at every level we are making progress.

Below are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Alerts

Federal
End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to email your Congressional Representative to urge them to support this crucial legislation.

Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the newly formed Cannabis Caucus

Colorado
Colorado State Senator Bob Gardner and Representative Dan Pabon have introduced legislation that is headed to the Senate Business, Labor and Technology committee on Tuesday, March 1, 2017. SB 184: The Marijuana Membership Clubs and Public Use Bill, will provide Colorado municipalities with the regulatory framework needed to allow responsible adults the option to socially consume marijuana in a membership club away from the general public.

Last November, voters In California and Maine approved public marijuana consumption through Proposition 64 and Question 1, but haven’t settled on rules. This means Colorado could be first out of the gate with statewide regulations for pot clubs.

Update: SB 184 passed the full Senate on Thursday, March 9, by a vote of 25-10 and will now be sent to the House. Gov. Hickenlooper has promised to veto the bill if passed in its current version.

CO Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Connecticut
Multiple pieces of legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate its commercial distribution is pending in both the state House and Senate.

Update: Lawmakers have scheduled a pair of hearings in March to debate these various legalization proposals. Members of the Public Health Committee heard testimony on Tuesday, March 7. Members of the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on Wednesday, March 22.

CT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Kansas
Legislation is pending, House Bill 2152, to permit qualified patients access to marijuana or extracts containing CBD and low levels of THC.

The measure would permit patients with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder or a condition causing seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, to possess marijuana or extracts containing no more than three percent THC. The measure also seeks to establish rules governing the state-licensed cultivation of low-THC marijuana strains and the preparation of products derived from such strains.

KS Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Maryland
HB 1236 and it’s companion bill SB891 would amend the Maryland Constitution to ensure citizens have the right to possess, smoke, and cultivate marijuana.

The Amendment would also require the General Assembly to establish a regulatory structure for “the transfer of cannabis by purchase or sale.”

If enacted, the law would legalize the possession of up to two ounces and the cultivation of up to six plants.

Update: The House held a hearing about HB 1236 on March 3 at 1pm, and a hearing about SB 891 on March 2 at 1pm.

MD Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Nevada
Senate legislation is pending, SB 236, to regulate the social use of cannabis.

The measure allows select businesses to apply for licensing to permit adult marijuana use on their premises. It would also allow event organizers to seek permits to allow adult use at specific events.

To date, private adult use of marijuana is permitted, but only in a private residence. Passage of SB 236 establishes a regulatory framework to permit adults the option to consume cannabis at specified public places or events.

NV Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

New Hampshire
Legislation is pending in the New Hampshire House, HB 215, to establish a commission to study the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.

Police in New Hampshire arrest some 2,900 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of New Hampshire adults, 62 percent of whom now endorse legalizing and regulating cannabis, according to a 2016 WMUR Granite State Poll.

Update: HB 215 passed the House on Thursday, March 8 on a voice vote. It will now be referred to the Senate.

NH Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Additionally, Multiple bills are pending before lawmakers to expand the pool of patients eligible to qualify for medical marijuana therapy.

In particular, these measures would permit patients with conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress to obtain legal access to marijuana.

Update: Bills to add chronic pain (HB 157) and PTSD (HB 160) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana have passed the House. They will now be referred to the Senate.

NH Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

New Mexico
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 258, to reduce penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses.

The measure eliminates criminal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one-half of one ounce of cannabis, reducing the offense to a $50 fine. Under present law, this offense is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 15 days in jail and criminal record.

Update: A Senate substitute version of SB 258 was passed 33 to 9 by members of the Senate. The amended version of the bill now awaits action by the House.  

NM Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Oregon
Legislation is pending in the Senate, SB 863, to limit the federal government from acquiring data regarding adults and patients who legally purchase marijuana under state law.

The emergency legislation, which would take immediate effect, mandates that retailers and dispensaries do not maintain customers’ purchase and/or personal identification records beyond 48 hours.

Sponsors of the bipartisan measure say the privacy protections are in response to recent statements by the Trump administration with regard to a possible enforcement crackdown in adult use marijuana states.

OR Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Tennessee
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, are sponsoring the legislature’s most concerted effort to legalize medical use of marijuana.

Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine.

Update: SB 1119 and SB 673 were debated by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 7.

TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Texas
Legislation has been introduced for the 2017 legislative session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

House Bill 81, filed by Representative Joe Moody and cosponsored by Representative Jason Isaac, seeks to amend state law so that possessing up to one ounce of marijuana is a civil violation, punishable by a fine – no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record. Under current state law, first-time marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Update: HB 81 is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, March 13. Starting at 8am if you happen to be in the state capitol in Austin you can get within the capitol steps Wi-Fi in order to register your support of HB 81.

TX Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Vermont
Rep. Samuel Young has introduced H. 490 to regulate the commercial and retail marijuana market.

H. 490 establishes a regulated system whereby adults may legally obtain marijuana from state-licensed retail providers and sellers.

Statewide polling reports that a majority of Vermont voters support legalizing and regulating marijuana. According to a RAND Corporation study, regulating the commercial sale of cannabis in Vermont would generate $20 million to $75 million annually in new tax revenue.

VT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

West Virginia
A coalition of Senate lawmakers have introduced legislation, SB 386, which seeks to establish the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act — a state-sponsored program that will permit qualified patients to obtain medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries. A House version of the bill, HB 2677, is also pending.

Passage of the bill establishes a commission tasked with developing “policies, procedures, guidelines, and regulations to implement programs to make medical cannabis available to qualifying patients in a safe and effective manner.”

WV Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Additional Actions To Take

Arkansas
House Bill 1580 imposes a special eight percent statewide tax upon medical marijuana sales. This tax would be in addition to the imposition of existing state and local taxes.

While NORML generally does not oppose the imposition of fair and reasonable sales taxes on the commercial sales of cannabis for recreational purposes, we do not support such excessive taxation on medical sales. Most other states that regulate medical cannabis sales do not impose such taxes and Arkansas patients should not be forced to pay these excessive costs.

AR Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

District of Columbia
Councilman David Grosso has re-introduced the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act. First introduced in 2014, DC voters overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure.

The bill will legalize marijuana use for adults over the age of 21 and will allow the city to tax and regulate a commercial market. Due to DC’s unique charter in Congress, however, this provision of the law was gutted in 2014.

DC Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

New Hampshire
House legislation is pending, HB 472, to permit qualified patients to cultivate their own medicine.

Under present law, qualified patients must purchase cannabis from one of a handful of state-licensed dispensaries.

House Bill 472 allows patients to cultivate up to two mature plants and up to 12 seedlings at one time.

Update: Members of the House of Representatives have passed HB 472. It now awaits action by the Senate.

NH Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

New Mexico
Governor Susana Martinez has vetoed House Bill 144, which sought to establish a hemp research program in compliance with provisions in the federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to engage in licensed activity involving hemp absent federal reclassification of the plant. The Governor provided no public explanation for he veto.

A similar provision, Senate Bill 6, now awaits action from the Governor. Members of the House and Senate have previously passed the measure by votes of 58 to 8 and 37 to 2.

NM Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Washington
Legislation is before lawmakers, House Bill 2064, to amend state law so that industrial hemp is not longer classified under the state’s uniform controlled substances act.

If passed, hemp plants will no longer be regulated as a controlled substance.

Update: HB 2064 has unanimously passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.

WA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort.

Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/18/2017

blogstickerWelcome to this week’s edition of the marijuana legislative roundup!

So here is a first: their is a Federal Cannabis Caucus!

In case you missed it, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis(D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to promote sensible cannabis policy reform and to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws on Thursday, 2/16.

Our priority call to action at the federal level is for people to contact their Representatives and urge them to join the Caucus – so CLICK HERE to send a message right now!

Nationwide, the number of bills relating to marijuana now tops 1,200, ranging from technical tweaks to codes to a Rep in Washington actually trying to reinstate prohibition! (You’ll see that below, if you are a WA resident, we give you the option of sending him a message directly to voice your opposition to his ludicrous effort)

Below are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Alerts

Federal
Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the newly formed Cannabis Caucus

Additionally, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

HR 975 states, ‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’

Click here to email your Congressional Representative to urge them to support this crucial legislation.

Georgia
Legislation is pending in the Senate, SB 105, to reduce minor marijuana possession offenses.

The bill reduces penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana from a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine to no more than a $300 fine.

GA Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

New Mexico
Senate Bill 177 amends state law so that qualified patients may not be denied organ transplants. It also expands the pool of qualifying conditions for which a physician may legally recommend cannabis therapy, to include indications such as arthritis, neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, and post-traumatic stress. It also extends the validity of a physicians’ recommendation beyond one year, and fast-tracks the patient registration process, among other important changes.

Update: SB 177 has passed the Senate by a vote of 29-11 and now is in the House for consideration.

NM Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

New York
Legislation (A. 2142 and S. 3809) is before the Assembly and Senate to seal the records of those who have previously been convicted of the possession of marijuana in public view.

New York has historically had the highest marijuana-related arrest rate in the nation largely because of questionable arrests made under the ‘public view’ exception. These arrests primarily target African Americans and Hispanics, and have been roundly criticized by leading politicians and civil rights advocates.

Update: A. 2142 has passed the state Assembly by a vote of 95 to 38. The Senate has yet to take action on its companion bill, S. 3809.

NY Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

North Dakota
Senate legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2344, to significantly rewrite the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act.

Sixty-four percent of voters approved the law on Election Day. Lawmakers should respect the public’s will and implement this law as initiated.

Unfortunately, SB 2344 makes several unacceptable changes to the Act. Specifically, it eliminates provisions permitting specific patients the option to cultivate their own medicine, and reduces the quantity of medicine that patients may legally obtain. It also caps the number of medical cannabis cultivators and dispensaries to no more than four and eight, respectively.

Update: Members of the Senate Human Services Committee have recommended passage of Senate Bill 2344. In response to voters’ concerns, they have amended the language so that the definition of ‘usable marijuana’ includes herbal forms of the plant. However, there are still many other provisions that NORML finds troubling and that undermine voters’ intent. The North Dakota Democratic Party has also raised various concerns regarding SB 2344

ND Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to oppose this effort.

Oregon
Legislation is pending before the Senate, SB 301, to prohibit employers from discriminating against adults who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours.

Senate Bill 301 states, “It is an unlawful employment practice for any employer to require, as a  condition of employment, that any employee or prospective employee refrain from using a substance that is lawful to use under the laws of this state during nonworking hours.”

Passage of this act would not prohibit employers from sanctioning employees who are under the influence at work.

Update: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are scheduled to debate SB 301 on Tuesday, February 21.

OR Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

Rhode Island
A coalition of Rhode Island lawmakers has reintroduced marijuana legalization legislation in the House, H. 5555: The Adult Use of Cannabis Act

The bill will allow adults 21 and older to possess cannabis and will establish a framework for businesses to cultivate and distribute marijuana. While the language is similar to that of previous bills that have failed to come to a vote, lawmakers this year believe that Rhode Island is ready to catch up to its northeast neighbors.

RI Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

South Carolina
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 212 and House Bill 3521, to establish a program to provide qualified patients with legal access to medical marijuana products.

Under this program, patients would be permitted to obtain up to two ounces of cannabis and/or cannabis-infused products, such as extracts or edibles, from a state-licensed dispensing facility.

Update: Testimony was taken on S. 212 before the Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee on February 16. Among those testifying in favor of the bill included former US Attorney for the District of South Carolina Bill Nettles. Members of the subcommittee have yet to vote on the bill.

Additionally, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMasters says he opposes legalizing marijuana, calling it a “bad idea.”

SC Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

Tennessee
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, are sponsoring the legislature’s most concerted effort to legalize medical use of marijuana.

Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine.

TN Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

Washington
Washington state Representative Sherry Appleton has introduced legislation that is currently in committee, HB 1092: The Adult Home Grow & Criminal Reduction Bill, to allow adults the option to legally cultivate personal use amounts of marijuana in a private residence.

Update: Members of the House Committee on Commerce and Gamine have passed a substitute version of HB 1212 to permit the cultivation of up to six plants and/or 24 ounces of usable marijuana harvested from those plants. The bill is now before the House Committee on Rules and the House Committee on Finance.

WA Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

Additional Actions To Take

Kansas
Legislation is pending before lawmakers, SB 155, to establish regulations governing a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

SB 155 would permit qualified patients to grow their own medical marijuana or to obtain it from a licensed dispensary, while also educating physicians who seek to recommend cannabis therapy.

Update: SB 155 has a hearing scheduled for 10:30am on Monday, February 20.

KS Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

Maryland
HB 1185 and SB 928 are pending in the Maryland House and Senate. These measures seek to legalize and regulate the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

Under these proposals, adults would be permitted to possess and grow limited quantities of cannabis. The measures would also regulate and license a commercial and retail marijuana market.

Update: Committee members in the Senate will hear testimony on March 2nd at 1pm. Committee members in the House will hear testimony on March 7th at 1pm.

MD Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

Additionally, Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 974, that prohibits individuals from operating a motor vehicle if they have any “detectable level” of THC or its inert metabolite THC-COOH present in their blood. Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear testimony on this bill on March 2nd at 1pm.

MD Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to oppose this effort.

Minnesota
HF 927, to permit the adult use, cultivation, production, and retail sale of marijuana has been introduced in the Minnesota legislature.

Deputy Minority Leader, State Rep. Jon Applebaum has announced his intent to sponsor the measure in a press release. The bill would allow those age 21 or older to legally possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use and establish regulations governing its commercial production and retail sale.

MN Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

South Dakota
More than a dozen lawmakers are backing legislation, Senate Bill 129, to eradicate the state’s marijuana possession by ingestion law.

Under the law, one can be charged with a felony drug offense if their past use of a marijuana shows up on a blood or urine test. In the case of cannabis, byproducts of THC may be detectable for several weeks after one has ceased using it.

Update: Members of the Senate Judiciary will hear testimony on SB 129 on Tuesday, February 21.

SD Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

Virginia
Senator David Marsden has introduced a bill to re-approve a previously passed act that will regulate the instate production of cannabis oil for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.

SB 1027 ensures that patients suffering from the debilitating condition will not have to break federal law to import cannabis oil from out of state.

Update: SB1027 has been passed unanimously by both the House (99-0) and Senate (38-0) and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law or vetoed. WSLS reports “It’s unclear if the governor will sign the bill into law.”

VA Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

Washington
Legislation is pending, House Bill 2096, that seeks to repeal “all laws legalizing the use, possession, sale, or production of marijuana and marijuana-related products.”

While we do not anticipate this measure gaining traction, please let your lawmakers — and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brad Klippert — know that you oppose this effort.

WA Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to oppose this effort.

Wisconsin
Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) introduced a pair of bills seeking to provide qualified patients with legal access to medical cannabis. The first bill establishes a statewide medical marijuana program, while the second bill would poll voters’ attitudes on the issue in the form of a nonbinding statewide referendum.

WI Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support this effort.

Wyoming
As passed by the House by a 56 to 2 vote, HB 197 reduces existing marijuana possession penalties from up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine to no more than 20 days in jail and a $200 fine for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders would face stricter penalties under the proposal.

But proposed changes by the Senate would eliminate these penalty reductions.

WY Resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to support reducing penalties.

Maryland: Lawmakers Approve Measure To Establish ‘Medical Marijuana Compassionate Use Programs’

Senate lawmakers today voted 42 to 4 in favor of House Bill 1101, which establishes a new 12-member state commission to promulgate medical cannabis research. House members had previously approved the measure, which now goes to the desk of Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is expected to sign it into law.

House Bill 1101 establishes an independent commission within the state Department of Health. The purpose of the commission is to request applications from academic medical centers to operate ‘medical marijuana compassionate use programs.’ The commission will decide which patients will qualify for the programs and it will license growers to provide cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Medical marijuana patients who are not participants in an authorized medical center program will not be legally protected from arrest. (Existing state legislation allows certain medical cannabis patients to raise an affirmative defense of medical necessity at trial.)

Full text of House Bill 1101 is available here. Once signed into law, the measure will take effect on October 1, 2013. However, media reports estimate that the programs are not likely to be up and running until 2016.

Maryland: NORML Testimony In Favor Of Marijuana Decriminalization

Written Testimony In Favor of Senate Bill 297
To Be Heard By The Members of the House Judiciary Committee
Thursday, March 28, 2013, at 1:00pm
By Allen St. Pierre
Executive Director
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

I thank members of the Maryland House Committee on the Judiciary for considering Senate Bill 297, which proposes to in effect decriminalize small amounts of cannabis possessed by adults.

NORML and its members in Maryland encourage this committee to agree with their senate colleagues that now is the right and proper time for Maryland to adopt a decriminalization enforcement policy for possession amounts of cannabis, and to join fifteen other states—and numerous large cities across the country such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Denver and Seattle—by adopting this cost-effective, time-saving, resource-stretching and law enforcement-friendly alternative public policy to the state’s current ‘arrest-n-prosecute’ policy for minor cannabis offenses (for non-medical use).

Currently, well over one-third of the US population resides in states and cities that have adopted cannabis decriminalization, in some cases, decades ago, and to no discernible ill effects.

The fifteen states with decriminalized cannabis enforcement laws, from west to east:

Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine.

The Nixon-appointed ‘Shafer Commission’ strongly opined for cannabis decriminalization in 1972. Despite Mr. Nixon rejecting his own commission’s public policy recommendations, numerous states accepted the wisdom and guidance of the massive report, starting with Oregon in 1973, which became the first state to officially decriminalize possession amounts of cannabis for adults.

With the ever-growing public sentiment nationwide in favor of substantive cannabis law reform measures, generally stated at…

*75% in support for medical access

*73% in support of decriminalization

*50-52% in support of legalization (voters in CO and WA approved legalization ballot initiatives by 55% respectively in 2012)

…Maryland legislators should adopt these popular public policy reforms, specifically, with the legislation approved by the senate at bar before them, Senate Bill 297.

 

 

Marijuana Decriminalization & Its Impact on Use

  • Introduction
  • U.S. Studies
  • International Studies 

“The available evidence suggests that removal of the prohibition against possession itself (decriminalization) does not increase cannabis use. … This prohibition inflicts harms directly and is costly. Unless it can be shown that the removal of criminal penalties will increase use of other harmful drugs, … it is difficult to see what society gains.”?- Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes. British Journal of Psychiatry. February 2001.

 

Introduction

Findings from dozens of government-commissioned and academic studies published over the past 25 years overwhelmingly affirm that liberalizing marijuana penalties does not lead to an increase in marijuana consumption or affect adolescent attitudes toward drug use.

Since 1973, 13 state legislatures — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon — have enacted versions of marijuana decriminalization. In each of these states, marijuana users no longer face jail time (nor in most cases, arrest or criminal records) for the possession or use of small amounts of marijuana. Internationally, many states and nations have enacted similar policies.

The following studies examine these decriminalization policies and their impact on marijuana use. The studies’ conclusions are listed chronologically.

U.S. Studies

“In sum, there is little evidence that decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in marijuana use.” – National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine (IOM). 1999. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy Press: Washington, D.C., 102.

“The Law Revision Commission has examined laws from other states that have reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana and the impact of those laws in those states. … Studies of [those] states found (1) expenses for arrest and prosecution of marijuana possession offenses were significantly reduced, (2) any increase in the use of marijuana in those states was less that increased use in those states that did not decrease their penalties and the largest proportionate increase occurred in those states with the most severe penalties, and (3) reducing the penalties for marijuana has virtually no effect on either choice or frequency of the use of alcohol or illegal ‘harder’ drugs such as cocaine.”?- Connecticut Law Review Commission. 1997. Drug Policy in Connecticut and Strategy Options: Report to the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly. State Capitol: Hartford.

“There is no strong evidence that decriminalization affects either the choice or frequency of use of drugs, either legal (alcohol) or illegal (marijuana and cocaine).” – C. Thies and C. Register. 1993. Decriminalization of Marijuana and the Demand for Alcohol, Marijuana and Cocaine. The Social Sciences Journal 30: 385-399.

“In contrast with marijuana use, rates of other illicit drug use among ER [emergency room] patients were substantially higher in states that did not decriminalize marijuana use. The lack of decriminalization might have encouraged greater use of drugs that are even more dangerous than marijuana.”?- K. Model. 1993. The effect of marijuana decriminalization on hospital emergency room episodes: 1975-1978. Journal of the American Statistical Association 88: 737-747, as cited by the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine in Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. [6]

“The available evidence indicates that the decriminalization of marijuana possession had little or no impact on rates of use. Although rates of marijuana use increased in those U.S. states [that] reduced maximum penalties for possession to a fine, the prevalence of use increased at similar or higher rates in those states [that] retained more severe penalties. There were also no discernible impacts on the health care systems. On the other hand, the so-called ‘decriminalization’ measures did result in substantial savings in the criminal justice system.”?- E. Single. 1989. The Impact of Marijuana Decriminalization: An Update. Journal of Public Health 10: 456-466.

“Overall, the preponderance of the evidence which we have gathered and examined points to the conclusion that decriminalization has had virtually no effect either on the marijuana use or on related attitudes and beliefs about marijuana use among American young people. The data show no evidence of any increase, relative to the control states, in the proportion of the age group who ever tried marijuana. In fact, both groups of experimental states showed a small, cumulative net decline in annual prevalence after decriminalization.”?- L. Johnson et al. 1981. Marijuana Decriminalization: The Impact on Youth 1975-1980. Monitoring the Future, Occasional Paper Series, paper 13, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor.

“Consumption appears to be unaffected, or affected only minimally by decriminalization, and most people believe that it has had little impact. Further, decriminalization has proven to be administratively and economically advantageous for state law enforcement efforts.”?- D. Maloff. 1981. Review of the effects of decriminalization of marijuana. Contemporary Drug Problems Fall: 307-322.

“Levels of use tended to be higher in the decriminalization states both before and after the changes in law. [S]tates which moderated penalties after 1974 (essentially a group of decriminalization states) did indeed experience an increase in rates of marijuana use, among both adolescents (age 12-17) and adults (18 or older). However, the increase in marijuana use was even greater in other states and the largest proportionate increase occurred in those states with the most severe penalties.”?- W. Saveland and D. Bray. 1980. American Trends in Cannabis Use Among States with Different Changing Legal Regimes. Bureau of Tobacco Control and Biometrics, Health and Welfare: Ottawa, as cited by E. Single in The Impact of Marijuana Decriminalization: an Update.

“The reduction in penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use does not appear to have been a factor in people’s decision to use or not use the drug.”?- California State Office of Narcotics and Drug Abuse. 1977. A First Report on the Impact of California’s New Marijuana Law. State Capitol: Sacramento.

“The number of [hospital] admissions directly due to marijuana use decreased from … 1970 to … 1975. In the same time, the number of admissions for drug abuse of all types, except alcohol, [also] decreased. … The following conclusion seem[s] warranted: medically significant problems from the use of marijuana have decreased coincident with decriminalizing marijuana.”?- P. Blachly. 1976. Effects of Decriminalization of Marijuana in Oregon. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 282: 405-415.

“Data collected at four points in time in Ann Arbor [Michigan] and the control communities (which underwent no change in marijuana penalties) indicated that marijuana use was not affected by the change in law [to decriminalization.]“?- R. Stuart et al. 1976. Penalty for the Possession of Marijuana: An Analysis of Some of its Concomitants. Contemporary Drug Problems 5: 553, as cited by E. Single in The Impact of Marijuana Decriminalization: an Update.

 

International Studies

“The Dutch experience, together with those of a few other countries with more modest policy changes, provides a moderately good empirical case that removal of criminal prohibitions on cannabis possession (decriminalization) will not increase the prevalence of marijuana or any other illicit drug; the argument for decriminalization is thus strong.”?- R. MacCoun and P. Reuter. 2001. Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes. British Journal of Psychiatry 178: 123-128.

“Fear of apprehension, fear of being imprisoned, the cost of cannabis or the difficulty in obtaining cannabis do not appear to exert a strong influence on decisions about cannabis consumption. … Those factors may limit cannabis use among frequent cannabis users, but there is no evidence, as of yet, to support this conjecture.”?- D. Weatherburn and C. Jones. 2001. Does prohibition deter cannabis use? New South Wales (Australia) Bureau of Crime Statistics: Sydney.

“The available data indicate that decriminalization measures substantially reduced enforcement costs, yet had little or no impact on rates of use in the United States. In the South Australian community, none of the studies have found an impact in cannabis use which is attributable to the introduction of the Cannabis Expiation Scheme [decriminalization.]“?- E. Single et al. 2000. The Impact of Cannabis Decriminalisation in Australia and the United States. Journal of Public Health Policy 21: 157-186.

 

“There is no evidence to date that the CEN [decriminalization] system … Has increased levels of regular cannabis use, or rates of experimentation among young adults. These results are broadly in accord with our earlier analysis of trends in cannabis use in Australia. …They are also consistent with the results of similar analyses in the United States and the Netherlands.”?- N. Donnelly et al. 1999. Effects of the Cannabis Expiation Notice Scheme on Levels and Patterns of Cannabis Use in South Australia: Evidence from the National Drug Strategy Household Surveys 1985-1995 (Report commissioned for the National Drug Strategy Committee). Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra, Australia.

“The different laws which govern the use and sale of marijuana do not appear to have resulted in substantially different outcomes if we view those outcomes solely in terms of consumption patterns.”?- Australian Institute of Criminology, and the New South Wales Department of Politics 1997. Marijuana in Australia, patterns and attitudes. Monograph Series No. 31, Looking Glass Press (Public Affairs): Canberra, Australia.

“While the Dutch case and other analogies have flaws, they appear to converge in suggesting that reductions in criminal penalties have limited effects on drug use, at least for marijuana.” – R. MacCoun and P. Reuter. 1997. Interpreting Dutch cannabis policy: Reasoning by analogy in the legalization debate. Science 278: 47-52.

“General deterrence, or the impact of the threat of legal sanction on the cannabis use of the population at large, has been assessed in large scale surveys. These studies have compared jurisdictions in the USA and Australia where penalties have been reduced with those where they have not, and rates of use have been unaffected. … Since no deterrent impact was found, this research illustrates a high-cost, low-benefit policy in action. Therefore, if any penalty is awarded, it should be a consistent minimum one. … The greatest impact on reducing the harmful individual consequences of criminalization would be achieved by eliminating or greatly reducing the numbers of cannabis criminals processed in the first place.”?- P. Erickson and B. Fischer. 1997. Canadian cannabis policy: The impact of criminalization, the current reality and future policies. In: L. Bollinger (Ed.) Cannabis Science: From Prohibition to Human Right. Peter Lang, Frankfurt, Germany. 227-242.

“There does not appear to be a consistent pattern between arrest rates and [marijuana] prevalence rates in the [United States] general population. … Following precipitous increases, marijuana use began decreasing in the late 1970s, during a period of relative stability in arrest rates. The general deterrence effects of the law (i.e., arrest practices), are not apparent based on the intercorrelations of the measures presented here.”?- L. Harrison et al. 1995. Marijuana Policy and Prevalance. [15] In: P. Cohen and A. Sas (Eds.) Cannabisbeleid in Duitsland, Frankrijk en de Verenigde Staten. University of Amsterdam: Amsterdam. 248-253.

“The evidence is accumulating … that liberalization does not increase cannabis use [and] that the total prohibition approach is costly [and] ineffective as a general deterrent.”?- L. Atkinson and D. McDonald. 1995. Cannabis, the Law and Social Impacts in Australia. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice 48.

“It has been demonstrated that the more or less free sale of [marijuana] for personal use in the Netherlands has not given rise to levels of use significantly higher than in countries which pursue a highly repressive policy.”?- Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. 1995. Drugs: Policy in the Netherlands: Continuity and Change. The Hague.

“It is clear … that the introduction of the CEN scheme [decriminalization] in South Australia has not produced a major increase in rates of cannabis use in South Australia by comparison with changes occurring elsewhere in Australia. … It is not possible to attribute the moderate increases in cannabis use rates in South Australia to the removal of criminal penalties for small-scale cannabis offenses in that state.”?- N. Donnelly et al. 1995. The effects of partial decriminalization on cannabis use in South Australia, 1985 to 1993. Australian Journal of Public Health 19: 281-287.

“The available evidence suggests that those jurisdictions which have decriminalized personal cannabis use have not experienced any dramatic increase in prevalence of use.” – National Drug and Alcohol Research Center. 1994. Patterns of cannabis use in Australia. Monograph Series No. 27, Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra, Australia.

“It appears clear that there is no firm basis for concluding that the introduction of the Cannabis Expiation Notice System in South Australia in 1987 has had any detrimental effect in terms of leading to increased levels of cannabis use in the Southern Australian community. … In the context of a society which is increasingly well informed about the risks associated with drug use in general, a move toward more lenient laws for small scale cannabis offenses, such as the CEN [decriminalization] system, will not lead to increased cannabis use.”?- Drug and Alcohol Services Council of South Australia, Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Unit. 1991. The Effects of Cannabis Legalization in South Australia on Levels of Cannabis Use. DASC Press: Parkside, Australia.

Legislative Chambers Move Measures To Decriminalize Marijuana In Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New Jersey

Legislative chambers in four statesHawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New Jersey — have passed measures to reclassify minor marijuana offenses as non-criminal violations, punishable by a fine only — no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record.

In Hawaii, Senate lawmakers this month unanimously passed Senate Bill 472, which reclassifies marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine) to an infraction. On Thursday, March 14, members of the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a revised version of this proposal (SB 472, HD1). This revised version caps fine-only penalties at no more than $100 for violations by those age 18 or older involving 20 grams or less of cannabis. Senate Bill 472 now before the House Finance Committee, where it has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. If passed by the House Finance Committee, the measure would still need to be voted by the full House and then it would return to the Senate before going to the Governor’s desk. You can read NORML’s testimony in support of this measure here. Hawaii voters who wish to learn more about this effort can visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here or visit the ACLU of Hawaii here.

Maryland lawmakers this week passed Senate Bill 297 by a vote of 30 to 16. The bill now goes before House lawmakers for further consideration. This is the first time in recent memory that a chamber of the Maryland legislature has voted to significantly reduce penalties for the non-medical use of cannabis. Presently, the possession of ten grams of cannabis or less is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, publishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. Senate Bill 297 makes minor marijuana offenses a fine-only, non-criminal infraction, punishable by a maximum fine of $100. Members of the House Judiciary Committee will hear SB 297 on Thursday, March 28, at 1pm. NORML will be testifying at this hearing. Maryland residents are urged to get involved in supporting SB 297 by clicking here.

Yesterday, New Hampshire House members voted 214 to 115 in favor of amended legislation, House Bill 621, that decriminalizes minor marijuana possession offenses. Under present law, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal misdemeanor publishable by up to one-year in jail and a $2,000 fine. This proposal seeks to make minor marijuana offenses (up to one-quarter of one ounce) a fine-only, non-criminal infraction. The vote marks the fourth time in five years that House lawmakers have approved decriminalizing cannabis. More than 50 additional House lawmakers approved the measure this year as opposed to last year. Nevertheless, this measure is anticipated to face resistance in the Senate as well as from newly elected Gov. Maggie Hassan. If you reside in New Hampshire, you can take action in support of HB 621 here.

Assembly Bill 1465, which reduces penalties for the adult possession of up to 15 grams or less of marijuana to a fine-only, non-criminal violation was approved last year by the New Jersey Assembly and awaits action by the Senate. Separate Senate Legislation, Senate Bill 1977, to decriminalize up to 50 grams of marijuana also remains pending. Under present state law, the possessing of up to 50 grams marijuana is punishable by up to 6 months incarceration, a $1,000 fine, and a criminal record. According to survey data compiled in 2011 by Rutgers University, a majority of New Jersey voters support reforming the state’s criminal marijuana laws. Pollsters found that 6 out of 10 voters favored removing criminal penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenders and replacing them with the imposition of a civil fine. Just over half thought there should be no penalties at all. More information about these measures is available here.

To date, fifteen states have reduced marijuana possession to a fine-only offense. In nine of these states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island (beginning April 1, 2013) — the law defines the private, non-medical possession of marijuana by adults as a civil, non-criminal offense. Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense. Alaska imposes no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana, while Colorado and Washington recently imposed separate legislation legalizing the private possession of marijuana.

Several additional states, including Missouri and Vermont, are considering similar decriminalization measures. Nearly a dozen states are also considering legislation to legalize the adult consumption of marijuana and regulate its retail production and sale. A summary of state-by-state pending marijuana law reform measures is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

Maryland: Lawmakers To Debate Marijuana Legalization Bill Tomorrow

NORML will be among a number of advocacy groups in Annapolis tomorrow to testify in favor of House Bill 1453, which seeks to legalize and regulate adult marijuana consumption in Maryland.

NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre will be testifying before members of the House Committee on the Judiciary. The Committee is scheduled to hear the measure on Tuesday, March 19 at 1:00pm. Excerpts of Allen St. Pierre’s written testimony appears below.

It is time for Maryland lawmakers to give serious consideration to this proposal. Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition and replacing it with regulation. The historic votes on Election Day in Colorado and Washington – where, for the first time ever, a majority of voters decided at the ballot box to abolish cannabis prohibition – underscore this political reality.

… Despite more than 70 years of federal marijuana prohibition, Americans’ consumption of and demand for cannabis is here to stay. It is time for state lawmakers to acknowledge this reality. It is time to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and it is time for lawmakers to impose common-sense regulations governing cannabis’ personal use by adults and licensing its production. A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for limited, licensed production and sale of cannabis to adults – but restricts use among young people – best reduces the risks associated with its use or abuse.

You can read Allen’s entire written testimony to the Committee here.

If you reside in Maryland and are not among the over 4,000 state residents who have already contacted your House member in favor of HB 1453, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page now and do so by clicking here.

Today, members of the Maryland Senate are also scheduled to vote on separate legislation, Senate Bill 297, which seeks to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses. You can learn more about this bill and urge your member of the Senate to endorse the measure by clicking here.

Maryland is one of ten states that is debating legislation this year to legalize cannabis use. Nearly a dozen states are also considering decriminalization measures. A summary of pending state legislative marijuana law reform measures is available from NORML here.

Get active; get NORML!

Bill to Legalize Marijuana Introduced in Maryland

Hot on the heels of the introduction of a bill to tax and regulate marijuana in Maine earlier today, Delegate Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore) has filed legislation in Maryland that would end his state’s prohibition on marijuana and regulate its possession, use, and sale for adults over the age of 21.

House Bill 1453 would create a system to regulate and tax cannabis in a manner similar to how the state handles alcohol. It would instruct the Maryland comptroller to license marijuana retail stores, wholesale facilities and testing facilities and apply an excise tax of $50 per ounce on wholesale sales. The excise tax revenue would go to fund treatment programs to prevent alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse. You can read the full text of this proposal here.

If you live in Maryland, please take a moment and use NORML’s Take Action Center here to easily contact your Representative and urge him or her to support this important legislation.

MARYLAND: Click here to urge your elected officials to support this legislation

The winds of reform are blowing strongly at our backs, with Maryland entering the fray, there is currently a total of six states (Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) with pending legislation to legalize marijuana for adult consumption. Check out the full list of pending state legislation here and find out if your state is considering marijuana law reforms in this legislative session.

NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up

Marijuana law reform legislation still remains pending in several this 2012 legislative session. Is your state among them? Find out here.

More importantly, have you taken the time to call or write your state elected officials this year and urged them to support these pending reforms? If not, NORML has provided you with all of the tools to do so via our capwiz ‘Take Action Center’ here. (FYI: NORML’s capwiz page is specific to legislation only, not ballot initiative efforts. A summary pending 2012 ballot initiative campaigns may be found at NORML’s Legalize It 2012 page on Facebook here or on the NORML blog here.)

Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — where we spotlight specific examples of pending marijuana law reform legislation from around the country.

** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and to make the changes they want to see. Get active; get NORML!

California: Longtime NORML ally Mark Leno is sponsoring legislation, Senate Bill 1182, that seeks to clarify how medical marijuana dispensaries may legally operate under state law. As introduced, SB 1182 seeks to bar from state prosecution those establishments that operate within the state Attorney General’s 2008 written guidelines for the ‘lawful operation of cooperative or a collective’.
The measure also “exempts those entities and persons from criminal prosecution or punishment solely on the basis of the fact that they receive compensation for actual expenses incurred in carrying out activities that are in compliance with those guidelines.” California NORML strongly supports SB 1182, as it would substantially eliminate confusion over the legality of the state’s several hundred dispensaries. You can learn more about the measure here.

Maryland: As anticipated, a series of bills that sought to allow for the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana once again stalled in the Maryland legislature. On a more positive note, however, lawmakers did take action this session to reform the way minor marijuana possession cases are prosecuted and defendants are sentenced. Specifically, lawmakers passed legislation that lowers the penalty for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana from up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine to up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. Legislators also passed a separate measure that provides police the discretion to cite, rather than arrest, minor marijuana offenders. Both measures await the signature of democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Massachusetts: State lawmakers on Wednesday, April 11, delayed action on several bills that sought to allow for the limited use of marijuana therapy. By failing to take action on any of these measures, lawmakers all but assured that a binding ballot question on the topic will go before voters this November. According to the statehouse news report: “Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, co-chair of the committee, told the News Service after [the] hearing … that his committee is ‘not working on anything’ that would stop the planned ballot question. The Legislature has until May 1 to either pass the initiative, draft its own version of legislation, or refrain from acting on it and allow the process to continue toward the November ballot.” (You can read a full summary of the hearings and initiative effort here.)

In previous elections, Massachusetts voters have overwhelmingly supported non-binding public policy questions regarding the legalization of medical marijuana. Further information on Massachusetts statewide reform efforts is available from NORML’s statewide affiliate Mass/Cann NORML here.

New Hampshire: House lawmakers in March passed marijuana decriminalization legislation. Senate lawmakers are considering doing likewise this week. On Thursday, April 19, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony in support of House Bill 1526, which amends penalties for possession of marijuana (up to one-half ounce) from a criminal misdemeanor punishable (by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine) to a civil infraction, punishable by a maximum fine of $250 and no criminal record. Click here to contact your state Senator regarding this proposal.

Separate legislation (Senate Bill 409), which allows for the possession and cultivation of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, has passed the Senate and remains pending in the House. You can track this legislation here or by contacting NH Compassion here.

Tennessee: Tennessee’s Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act (House Bill 294/Senate Bill 251) will receive a final hearing on Tuesday, April 17th. This will be the final opportunity for advocates to publicly show lawmakers their support for marijuana law reform during the 2012 legislative session. The hearing will take place at a special meeting of the Senate Health Committee at 9:00am. More information on this proposal and NORML’s ongoing lobbying efforts in Tennessee is available here.

NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up

Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in nearly 30 states this 2012 legislative session. Is your state among them? Find out here.

More importantly, have you taken the time to call or write your state elected officials this year and urged them to support these pending reforms? If not, NORML has provided you with all of the tools to do so via our capwiz ‘Take Action Center’ here. (FYI: NORML’s capwiz page is specific to legislation only, not ballot initiative efforts. A summary pending 2012 ballot initiative campaigns may be found at NORML’s Legalize It 2012 page on Facebook here or on the NORML blog here.)

Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — where we spotlight specific examples of pending marijuana law reform legislation from around the country.

** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and to make the changes they want to see. Get active; get NORML!


Connecticut: Lawmakers on Wednesday, March 7, will hear testimony in favor of Raised Bill 5389, to allow for the limited legalization of medical marijuana by qualified patients. State lawmakers previously passed medicinal cannabis reform legislation in 2007, only to have it vetoed by then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Present Gov. Dannel Malloy is a supporter of marijuana law reform.

Last year, Connecticut NORML played a key role in the passage of legislation decriminalizing the possession of minor amounts of marijuana. This year, Connecticut NORML is once again leading the charge for marijuana law reform. Our affiliate will be co-hosting a press conference at the State Capitol tomorrow featuring patients, advocates, and doctors. To become involved in this statewide campaign, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here and contact Erik Williams at Connecticut NORML here.

Maryland: Members of the House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from NORML’s Executive Director Allen St. Pierre and others this Friday, March 9, in support of legislation to allow for the use of cannabis as a medicine. To support this effort, please click here.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers today heard testimony in favor of House Bill 1371, The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act, which seeks to regulate the commercial production and distribution of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. You can read more about this legislation here. You can join the campaign to reform Massachusetts’ marijuana laws by contacting Mass/Cann NORML here.

New Hampshire: Members of the Senate Committee on Health will hear testimony on Thursday, March 8, regarding Senate Bill 409, which allows for the limited legalization of medical marijuana by qualified patients. As introduced, qualified patients would be able to possess up to 18 marijuana plants and/or six ounces of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. State lawmakers have previously passed similar legislation. To assure that this year’s measure has enough support to withstand a potential veto by the Governor, it is vital that advocates are in touch with their state elected officials in support of this effort. You can take action here and join the statewide campaign by contact NH Compassion here.

Separate legislation, HB 1526, seeking to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses has been endorsed by the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and now awaits a vote from the full House. You can take action on this measure here.

A third measure, HB 1705, which seeks to establish a regulated cannabis market governing the wholesale production and sale of marijuana, also awaits action from the full House.

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Health Secretary Says Maryland Academic Institutions Considering Medical Marijuana Program

Maryland’s health secretary says academic institutions in the state are exploring the possibility of running a medical marijuana program in Maryland.

Joshua Sharfstein said Thursday that two or three institutions have expressed interest to him. The secretary spoke during a meeting of a workgroup that is putting together a medical marijuana plan to bring to lawmakers in the 2012 legislative session.

Sharfstein declined to name the institutions, because he hasn’t had long conversations with them.

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