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. 

 

Online Debate: NORML Versus Project SAM

personal_cultivationThe Asbury Park Press and other Gannett newspaper affiliates, including USA Today, published a fairly extensive online debate on Sunday between myself and Project SAM co-founder Kevin Sabet under the header “Should We Make Marijuana Legal?”

I respond to numerous alarmist claims throughout the interview, including allegations that regulating the adult use of cannabis send s mixed message to youth, leads to increased use by young people, that cannabis is a gateway drug, and even the notion that marijuana prohibitionists are out-funded by reform advocates (as if)!

Here’s an excerpt:

Gov. Christie, who has consistently opposed legalization of marijuana, contends pot is a so-called gateway drug, that people who use pot will eventually graduate to harder, more dangerous substances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it hasn’t found a definitive answer on that question yet. What is your position and what are the most definitive studies you can cite to bolster it?

Armentano: It is time for politicians to put to rest the myth that cannabis is a gateway to the use of other controlled substances — a theory that is neither supported by modern science or empirical data.

More than 60 percent of American adults acknowledge having tried cannabis, but the overwhelming majority of these individuals never go on to try another illicit substance. And by the time these individuals reach age 30, most of them have significantly decreased their cannabis use or no longer indulge in the substance at all. Further, nothing in marijuana’s chemical composition alters the brain in a manner that makes users more susceptible to experimenting with other drugs. That’s why both the esteemed Institute of Medicine and the RAND Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center conclude, “Marijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation.”

By contrast, a growing body of evidence now exists to support the counter notion that, for many people, cannabis serves as a path away from the use of more dangerous substances — including opioids, alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine and tobacco.

You can read and comment on the entire online debate here.

If you are a New Jersey resident, you can also take action in support of marijuana law reform in the Garden State here.

Weekly Legislative Update 5/20/17

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

This year, it seems that multiple states are vying for the honor of becoming the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislative process and four of them had movement this week. Ranked most-to-least likely, here is the action we saw in the last 7 days:

Vermont: S. 22, to eliminate civil and criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults has been transmitted to Governor Phil Scott.

If signed or simply ignored, (aka not vetoed by the Governor), the measure will legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, and the cultivation of two mature marijuana and four immature plants in a private residence beginning July 1, 2018. The Act will become law in lieu of action by the Governor Wednesday due to the procedural processes of the Vermont.

Connecticut (tied for 2nd): Senate and House Democrats are lobbying for provisions to permit the retail sale of marijuana to adults as a way to address the state’s estimated $5 billion budget gap. The proposal would initially permit state-licensed dispensaries to sell cannabis to non-patients, and then establish regulations to oversee the establishment of commercial producers and retailers.

The proposed plan is estimated to yield about $60 million in additional revenue for the state next fiscal year, and $180 million by 2018-19.

Rhode Island (tied for 2nd): Members of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously advanced H. 5551 to create a study commission on May 17, but failed to call H. 5555 The Adult Use of Cannabis Act for a vote. The study bill now awaits action on the House floor while H. 5555 is likely dead for this session. Yet several lawmakers are now working on a compromise approach which would enact several provisions of legalization similar to Vermont this year and then let decisions on issues like edibles, product testing, business licensing and local opt-out be triggered by a study commission’s recommendations.

New Jersey (distant 4th): Legislation has been introduced by State Sen. Nicholas Scutari to legalize and regulate the adult use, production, and retail sale of marijuana. Yet in his last year as Governor, Chris Christie has made it clear that he will not sign such legislation, however it does position the Garden State well to pass legalization next year as Gov. Christie is term-limited out.

At the Federal level, in the House, Representatives  Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) have introduced The Respect States and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2017, HR 2528, which would protect states that have ended prohibition at the state level from federal interference. This bill is substantially similar to that of HR 965, the bipartisan Respect State Marijuana Laws Act introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

Additionally, the bipartisan Senate version of the SAFE Banking Act was introduced to allow marijuana businesses access to basic banking services.

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
Respect State Marijuana Laws: On May 18, Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Diane DeGette (D-CO) introduced HR 2528, The Respect States and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2017.

Click here to send your member of Congress a message to support the bill. 

Bank Safely: Currently, banks face the threat of federal sanction for working with marijuana-related businesses and entrepreneurs. The SAFE Banking Act (Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act) would extend protections to banks from the federal government, thus allowing responsible businesses access to basic banking services.

Click here to send both your Senators and Representative a message to support these measures.

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

Connecticut
Senate and House Democrats are lobbying for provisions to permit the retail sale of marijuana to adults as a way to address the state’s estimated $5 billion budget gap.

CT resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of legalization.

Nevada
Senate legislation is pending, SB 236, introduced by Sen. Tick Segerblom 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.

Update: SB236 passed out of the Assembly Government Operations Committee on May 16.

NV resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of marijuana social clubs.

New Jersey
Legislation has been introduced by State Sen. Nicholas Scutari to legalize and regulate the adult use, production, and retail sale of marijuana.

According to a 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton poll, nearly six in ten New Jersey adults support “legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over.” Similar percentages of voters through the country also endorse legalization.

NJ resident? Click here in support of legalization in the Garden State

Rhode Island
Several lawmakers are now working on a compromise approach which would enact several provisions of legalization similar to Vermont this year and then let decisions on issues like edibles, product testing, business licensing and local opt-out be triggered by a study commission’s recommendations.

RI resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of legalization

Vermont
S. 22, to completely depenalize marijuana, was transmitted to the Governor on May 18. Governor Phil Scott has until the end of Wednesday May 24 to either sign or veto the legislation, and should he not act, the bill will go into effect by default.

VT resident? Click here to send a message to Governor Scott in support of legalization

Other Actions to Take

Delaware
Senate Bill 24 has been introduced by Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry to make it easier for those suffering from PTSD to obtain their medicine.

 

DE resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of those with PTSD

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 express your support for these measures to your lawmakers.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Legislative Update 5/13/17

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

So much to talk about this week, so let’s start with our favorite villain, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This week, Sessions superseded the 2010 Holder Memo, regarding DOJ’s policy on charging and sentencing decisions – establishing what I like to now refer to as The Sessions Doctrine, in which he directed the the thousands of assistant U.S. attorneys to pursue “the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”

NPR reports:

Holder had asked prosecutors to avoid slapping nonviolent drug offenders with crimes that carried mandatory minimum sentences, practices that, as NPR’s Tamara Keith explains, “give judges and prosecutors little discretion over the length of a prison term if a suspect is convicted.” Holder’s recommendation had been aimed partly at helping reduce burgeoning prison populations in the U.S.

Now, if prosecutors wish to pursue lesser charges for these low-level crimes, they will need to obtain approval for the exception from a U.S. attorney, assistant attorney general or another supervisor.

 

This is yet another clear example of the Trump administrations escalation the failed War on Drugs.

On a much brighter note, things moved quite a bit at the state level in 3 key battles.

Delaware: Members of the House Revenue and Finance Committee voted 7 to 2 on May 10 to move HB 110 to the House floor. Because the measure seeks to amend criminal penalties, it requires a two-thirds majority from House members to move to the Senate for further consideration. The vote marks the first time the “1st State” that lawmakers have ever approved legislation seeking to legalize and regulate the adult use marijuana market.

Iowa: In a last minute deal by Iowa state lawmakers and signed by the Govenor, an amended version of HF 524 is now the law of the land. The measure expands the state’s existing CBD exemption law, which was set to sunset this year, and expands it. Specifically, HF 524 permits patients with various qualifying conditions, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, AIDS and HIV, Crohn’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, to possess CBD with up to 3% THC. The bill also seeks to establish regulations for the manufacturing and dispensing of CBD products within the state.

New Hampshire: Members of the Senate on May 11 voted 17 to 6 in favor of HB 640, to decriminalize marijuana in “The Granite State.” Because the Senate amended the bill’s language, it must return to the House for a concurrence vote, where it is expected to easily pass. Once reconciled, the bill goes to Governor Sununu, who has time and again affirmed his support for decriminalization.

Vermont: S. 22, to eliminate civil and criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults has been passed by the Vermont legislature.

If not vetoed by the Governor, the measure would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, and the cultivation of two mature marijuana and four immature plants in a private residence.

Vermont would become the first state to completely depenalize the simple possession and cultivation of marijuana by the legislative process, thus breaking a stigma for legislators throughout the country.

Unfortunately, in Texas, while we saw historic process to both establish a medical marijuana program and decriminalize the plant in the state, our efforts came up short this year as the deadline for floor votes came and past on Thursday.

Texas NORML organized in a heroic fashion and I must give a special shoutout to their Executive Director Jax Finkel for all of her hard work and diligence. Never has the Lone Star state been so close on moving sane marijuana reform policy forward and we will now must build upon the tremendous momentum generated this year to achieve victories in the next legislative session. You can support Texas NORML’s work by clicking here. 

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 newly created Congressional Cannabis Caucus

Delaware
House floor vote pending for marijuana legalization legislation, HB 110. The measure establishes a regulated commercial market for cannabis cultivation and retail sales, but does not permit unlicensed, home cultivation.

DE resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials to support legalization!

New Hampshire
Decriminalization legislation is on its way to the Governor.

NH resident? Send him a note thanking him for his support. 

Vermont
Legislation to eliminate adult use marijuana penalties and study legalization sent to Governor.

VT resident? Send a message to Gov. Scott now and call his office at (802) 828-3333

Other Actions to Take

Alaska
State officials in Alaska are considering legislation, HJR 21, to urge the federal government to restrain from interfering in state marijuana laws.

HJR 21 urges the current Administration to respect previous federal arrangements in regard to state laws and to continue a policy of allowing legalized states autonomy.

The bill points to several reasons that Alaska would be harmed by a federal crackdown, ranging from economic ramifications to the confusion of law enforcement officers; federal enforcement would ultimately have negative results.

AK resident? Click here to urge your lawmakers to stand up for Alaskans.

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: Read third time and amended on May 8. Ordered to third reading.

CA resident? Click here to urge your lawmakers to protect legal marijuana in your state. 

Hawaii
Legislation to expand Hawaii’s medical cannabis program has passed both legislative chambers.

The bill expands the number of qualifying conditions eligible to receive cannabis therapy to include: lupus, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and autism. It also permits patients’ caregivers to engage in medical cannabis cultivation, among other changes.

HI resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor urging them to sign the legislation. 

New Jersey
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently made public statements calling the notion of regulating adult marijuana use “beyond stupidity.”

Yet, according to a 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton poll, nearly six in ten New Jersey adults support “legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over.” Similar percentages of voters through the country also endorse legalization.

NJ resident? Click here to help us educate the Governor and his staff to the facts on marijuana.

Chris Christie Has Zero Credibility on Drug Policy

From Forbes:

Legalize marijuanaAccording to Erik Altieri, Executive Director of the decades-old drug reform nonprofit NORML, Christie has spent much of time as governor (and, as it happens, much of the opioid epidemic) fighting the rising tide of calls for cannabis reform in his state. Last week, as part of opioid-themed comments, Christie even called the ever more crucial and commonplace drive to bring regulated adult and medical cannabis use to New Jersey “total stupidity” and “baloney,” and described any tax revenues from the industry as “blood money.”

“We are in the midst of the public health crisis on opiates,” Christie said. “But people are saying pot’s OK. This is nothing more than crazy liberals who want to say everything’s OK.”

In response, NORML released an open letter to the governor days later, explaining in simple terms how scientific and social research have repeatedly shown that cannabis offers rather the opposite of “baloney” in the face of opioid addiction. Citing years of evidence-based conclusions, the letter pointed out, “It makes no sense from a public health perspective, a fiscal perspective, or a moral perspective to perpetuate the prosecution and stigmatization of those adults who choose to responsibly consume a substance that is safer than either alcohol or tobacco.” It continued:

“In truth, America’s real-world experiment with regulating marijuana has been a success. Thirty states, including New Jersey, now regulate the plant’s therapeutic use and eight states authorize its use and sale to all adults. These policy changes are not associated with increased marijuana use or access by adolescents or with adverse effects on traffic safety or in the workplace. Marijuana regulations are also associated with less opioid abuse and mortality . In jurisdictions where this retail market is taxed, revenue from marijuana sales has greatly exceeded initial expectations.”

Altieri explained by phone that the new tactic is one of many advocates have tried over the years in order to convince Christie and lawmakers like him to accept the science on cannabis, and to invest in further study rather than stalwart opposition. Rather than acknowledge evidence that cannabis is a cheap, relatively quite safe method of treating pain and other conditions, and even effective for helping addicts quit much harder drugs, however, Christie has stayed his anti-pot course throughout, according to Altieri.

“Governor Christie has 0% credibility on drug policy, or any other policy, for that matter,” Altieri said. “When it comes to cannabis’ relationship to opioids from real-world experience, not bluster and rhetoric, states that have medicinal and recreational cannabis laws on the books see lower rates of overdose, lower rates of use, and lower rates of opioids being prescribed to patients.”

“This cannot be disputed,” Altieri added. “This is happening on the ground in many states, and he should know this better than others, having seen data on his own state, despite his protestations and attempt to block it.”

But at this point, Altieri said, whether such outreach finally touches Christie’s heart and brain, unlikely as it may be, is no longer of import to the state of New Jersey.

“In consistent polling, 60% of New Jersey residents support legalizing, regulating, and taxing cannabis, in line with the national average, and that’s three times the number of residents that support Governor Christie in his current position,” he said. “He further weakens his position by displaying his ignorance to basic and readily available science. We know that marijuana has a very low harm profile, that you can’t overdose on it, and that the side effects tend to be minor and temporary. Unlike opioids.”

Altieri continued, “It’s important to point out that Christie will be gone by the end of this year, and that so far, every single Democratic candidate for governor and a number of Republican candidates have come out in support of legalization. So it’s really a question of not if but when in New Jersey. And there’s nothing Chris Christie can do about it.”

 

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

LIVE IN NEW JESREY? CLICK HERE TO CONTACT GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE AND CORRECT THE RECORD.

Governor Christie Blocks New Jersey’s Bridge to Legalization

11188089675_194d0213aaGovernor Chris Christie is the first and last to admit that there is only one more roadblock preventing the legalization of marijuana in the state of New Jersey – himself.

Speaking on New Jersey 101.5’s “Ask the Governor,” Christie took a call from one of his constituents on efforts by the legislature to move reform forward in the Garden State. The caller brought up prospect of using the projected tax revenue to either replace the regressive gas tax or simply have the additional revenue supplement the state’s budget, to which the Governor replied “…“There is nothing we spend in government that is important enough to allow me to willfully poison our children for that money. That’s blood money.”

Well Governor, 60% of the voters in the United States do not agree with you – and neither does your state legislature. Support among elected officials in New Jersey is rising faster than ever. Fresh off of a trip to Colorado to see first hand how the state that pioneered legalization handles their regulations, NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney said “I was on board before we went, but I am absolutely sold that this industry can be regulated. It’s safe, it’s well managed. Colorado has done an amazing job.”

It doesn’t hurt that according to a recent report by New Jersey Policy Perspective and NJ United for Marijuana Reform projects that the public coffers would add an estimated $300 million dollars a year in tax revenue.

However, nothing can move until there is a change in leadership in the Governor’s office. In recent his interview, Christie went one step further, exclaiming that “You’re damn right I’m the only impediment [blocking reform]. And I am going to remain the only impediment until January of 2018.”

So there you have it – the Governor proudly proclaimed that the only thing preventing the end of marijuana prohibition in NJ is Christie himself. Conveniently for the residents of New Jersey, the Governor is term-limited out and the next election is November 7th, 2017.

NORML’s Legislative Round Up September 23rd, 2016

thumbs_upNext Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day and NORML will be releasing an updated and revised 2016 Congressional Scorecard. The Scorecard is an all-encompassing database that assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to members of Congress based on their marijuana-related comments and voting records.

With the 2016 presidential election drawing closer and statewide marijuana initiatives qualified for the ballot in nine states, we need YOU to make it out to the polls to support ending cannabis prohibition. Join us in celebrating National Voter Registration Day next Tuesday by double-checking your status as a voter and encouraging your friends and family to do the same. Take a look at how we graded your members of Congress and bring that information with you to the polls on Election Day!

State:

California: Sixty percent of likely voters say they would vote for Proposition 64: the Adult Use of Marijuana Act according to the latest poll out of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). Only 36 percent of voters said they are against the pending ballot initiative.

A just-released California Field poll similarly finds that likely voters back Prop. 64 by a margin of 60 percent to 31 percent.

Proposition 64 permits adults to legally grow (up to six plants) and possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrate) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The measure prohibits localities from taking actions to infringe upon adults’ ability to possess and cultivate cannabis for non-commercial purposes. The initiative language specifies that it is not intended to “repeal, affect, restrict, or preempt … laws pertaining to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.”

The ballot measure is endorsed by the ACLU of California, the California Democratic Party, the California Medical Association, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California NAACP, the California League of Conservative Voters, Equality California, the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and NORML.

pills_v_potMichigan: Governor Rick Snyder has signed a package of legislation into law regulating the retail sale of medical cannabis and cannabis-infused products. The measures are ordered to take immediate effect.

The measures seek to clarify and expand various aspects of the state’s 2008 medical cannabis law. Specifically, the new law provides qualified patients for the first time with legal protections regarding the possession and use of non-smoked cannabis derived topical products and edibles, as well as cannabis-based extract products. The law also licenses and regulates facilities where state-qualified patients may legally obtain medical marijuana.

Michigan was one of the only medical marijuana states in the country that had yet to regulate the dispensing of medicinal cannabis. About 210,000 residents are now registered in the state’s medical program.

Missouri: Voters will not have the opportunity this November to decide on a proposed statewide proposition to permit the physician-supervised use of marijuana.

A Cole County Circuit Judge this week upheld a decision by St. Louis election officials to disqualify thousands of petition signatures because voters had mistakenly signed forms indicating that they resided in a county other than where they lived.

The measure, sponsored by New Approach Missouri, sought to authorize qualified patients to possess, cultivate, and/or obtain cannabis through a licensed system of dispensaries. Polling indicated that over 60 percent of voters backed the proposal. On Thursday, Secretary of State Jason Kander called on lawmakers to move swiftly to enact similar legislation.

Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota will vote on medical use measures on Election Day. Voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will also vote this November on initiatives legalizing the adult use of marijuana. A summary of 2016 ballot measures and their status is online here.

Legalize marijuanaNew Jersey: New legislation has been introduced for the 2016/2017 legislative session that seeks to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana.

Assembly Bill 4193 permits marijuana to be sold at convenience stores to adults aged 19 and older in unlimited amounts. The legislation also seeks to expunge the criminal records of past marijuana offenders. Says the bill’s sponsor, Assembly member Michael Patrick Carroll: “To me it’s just not a big deal. It’s already ubiquitous. Anybody who thinks this is somehow going to increase the availability of marijuana has never been 19. If that’s the case, then what’s the big deal about having it available at the local 7-Eleven?”

Separate legislation to legalize adult marijuana possession, A 2068, is also pending before the legislature. #TakeAction

Tennessee: Members of the Nashville Metro Council have given final approval to municipal legislation providing police the discretion to cite rather than arrest minor marijuana offenders.

Council members voted 35 to 3 in favor of the new ordinance. It provides police the option of issuing $50 citations for those who possess up to a half-ounce of marijuana. Under state law, the possession of small amounts of cannabis is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a criminal record.

The legislation now awaits action from the city’s mayor, who has pledged to sign the bill into law. A similar measure is awaiting a final city council vote in Memphis, Tennessee.

Washington D.C.: District Mayor Muriel Bowser announced this week that she will propose amending the city’s medical cannabis law so that qualified patients may obtain up to four ounces of cannabis per month. Under existing law, patients are limited to no more than two ounces per month. The Washington D.C. currently has about 4,000 registered medical marijuana patients.

Looking for updated information on all of the pending statewide marijuana related ballot measures? Check out our 2016 Election page!

NORML’s Legislative Round Up September 16th, 2016

In this week’s Legislative Round Up you’ll learn about a national call to action to renew federal legislation protecting hundreds of thousands of patients and providers. In other news, the marijuana movement received support from two leading national veterans groups and several important bills were signed into law at the state level. Keep reading for the latest news in marijuana law reform.

Federal:

take_actionA federal provision limiting the Justice Department from prosecuting state-authorized medical marijuana patients and providers is set to expire at the end of this month. The provision, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, maintains that federal funds can not be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” Please visit our #TakeAction Center to contact your federally elected officials and urge them to move quickly to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment and to keep these important patient protections in place.

In other news of national significance, members of the American Legion passed a resolution to promote research on marijuana’s potential use for treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Additionally, the group called for marijuana to be removed from it’s current Schedule I classification within the Controlled Substances Act. A second veterans group, The American Veterans (AMVETS), also recently resolved that marijuana should be made available to veterans within the VA healthcare system in every state where it is legal.

State:

Delaware: Governor Jack Markell has signed legislation, SB 181, into law permitting designated caregivers to possess and administer non-smoked medical marijuana formulations (e.g. oils/extracts) to qualifying patients “in a school bus and on the ground or property of the preschool, or primary, or secondary school in which a minor qualifying patient is enrolled.”

The measure takes immediate effect. To date, two other states — Colorado and New Jersey — impose similar legislation.

Florida: Another local municipality, New Port Richey, has approved marijuana decriminalization legislation. In a 3-2 vote, the council approved an ordinance providing police the discretion to issue a $155 civil citation in lieu of making a criminal arrest in cases involving less than 20 grams of marijuana. The New Port Richey vote mimics those of nearby municipalities Orlando and Tampa, which passed similar ordinances earlier this year and a wave of South Florida municipalities that passed similar ordinances last year. Under state law, simple marijuana possession is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

thumbs_upMichigan: Lawmakers gave final approval this week to a package of bills, HB 4209/4210, HB 4827, SB 141, and SB 1014, to regulate the retail sale of medical cannabis and cannabis-infused products. The legislation licenses and regulates above-ground, safe access facilities where state-qualified patients may legally obtain medical marijuana, provides qualified patients for the first time with legal protections for their possession and use of non-smoked cannabis derived topicals and edibles, as well as cannabis-based extract products, and establishes regulations tracking the production and sale of medical marijuana products. The measures, which lawmakers had debated for the past two years, now await action by the Governor. #TakeAction

New Jersey: On September 14th, Governor Chris Christie signed legislation, A 457, into law that adds PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions eligible for medical marijuana therapy. More than a dozen states permit medical marijuana access for PTSD treatment. A retrospective review of PTSD patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Posttraumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.

The new law took immediate effect.

Tennessee: Last week the Nashville Metro Council advanced legislation providing police the option to cite rather than arrest minor marijuana offenders. Those cited would face only a $50 fine (or ten hours of community service.) Under state law, such offenses are punishable by up to one-year in prison. A final vote on the ordinance is scheduled for September 20. If you live in Nashville, consider contacting your member of the Metro Council and voicing your support for this common sense reform.

New York Times OpDoc: A True Satire Of The War on Some Drugs

While there is nothing genuinely funny about a seventy-five year prohibition on cannabis that has arrested over 25 million cannabis consumers, making fun of the failed policy never goes out of style, especially when done right, with aplomb, which the NORML staff occasionally highlights on an otherwise serious-minded public policy blog.

While over a week-old it would seem a crime itself not to share this New York Times so-called OpDoc (where videos rather than guest columns are submitted). The Gregory Brothers, a quartet of video artists from Brooklyn, absolutely skew the disparity between American society’s hypocritical legal vs illegal drug paradigm.

They accomplish this by very humorous employment of auto-tune and eye-rolling use of politicians’ own words about the now near universally acknowledged failed war on some drugs.

Check out former Congressman Ron Paul, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey governor Chris Christie (with intentional help from Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes of ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ fame) sing in a way, about a subject matter, they surely didn’t intend t00 when they opened their mouths and spoke the truth about an unpopular public policy (which, ironically, is what elected policymakers are supposed to do in democracies).

You can watch the video here.

Enjoy!

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.

Buy Your Tickets for the NORML Mid-Atlantic Conference on March 16th

NORML is pleased to announce the first ever Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in Philadelphia, PA is just over a week away.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

The conference will feature a day of enlightening panel discussions and speakers on topics ranging from new reform strategies, recent legislative efforts, the science of medical cannabis, and much more. Hear from some of the most experienced and insightful marijuana law reformers working the the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York area.

Pennsylvania State Senator, and sponsor of PA’s legalization bill, Daylin Leach will be giving a keynote address discussing his work on the issue, his recent legislation, and experience working for reform as a sitting politician. Don’t miss it!

AGENDA
(subject to change)

11:00 – 11:10
Conference Welcome – Kevin Clough, Executive Director (Philly NORML)

11:15 – 12:15
New Strategies for Reform
Moderator: Derek Rosenzweig (PhillyNORML)

Speakers:
Erik Williams, Executive Director (CTNORML & CampaignsWon)
Stacia Cosner, Associate Director (SSDP)
Diane Fornbacher, Vice-Chair (NORML Women’s Alliance), NORML Board of Directors

12:15-1:00
BREAK FOR LUNCH

1:10 – 2:10
Medical Marijuana Moving Forward
Moderator: Mike Liszewski, Policy Director (Americans for Safe Access)

Speakers:
Mallory Loflin, Graduate Student (SUNY)
Jahan Marcu, PhD Candidate (Temple Medical School)
Ken Wolski, Executive Director (Coalition Medical Marijuana New Jersey)

2:10 – 3:00
KEYNOTE: Pennsylvania State Senator. Daylin Leach

3:00 – 3:10
BREAK

3:15 – 4:15
Pot and Politics 2013
Moderator: Erik Altieri, Communications Director (National NORML)

Speakers:
Patrick Nightingale, Executive Director (PittsburghNORML)
Evan Nison, Executive Director (NJ NORML)
Gabriel Sayegh, State Director (DPA New York)

4:20 – 5:20
Cannabis, Canvas, and Culture
Moderator: Joe Forte, Secretary (PhillyNORML)

Speakers:
Rob Cantrell, Comedian
Marc Connuck, Activist (Pennsylvania Farmers For Industrial Hemp)
Rick Cusick, Associate Publisher (HighTimes) and NORML Board of Directors

5:20-5:50
Closing Remarks: Allen St. Pierre (National NORML)

Panel sessions will be held during the day in Claudia Cohen Hall at the University of Pennsylvania and the night will end with a private fundraiser featuring live entertainment from comedian Rob Cantrell and local musical act Cultureal. There will also be food, drink, a silent auction, and more at a private venue nearby. Ticket holders will receive fundraiser details prior to the event.

Reserve your tickets today, space is limited and going fast!

Hope to see you in the City of Brotherly Love next week.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

Register Today for the First NORML Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference

NORML is pleased to announce the first ever Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in Philadelphia, PA on March 16th, 2013!

The conference will feature a day of enlightening panel discussions and speakers on topics ranging from new reform strategies, recent legislative efforts, the science of medical cannabis, and much more. Hear from some of the most experienced and insightful marijuana law reformers working in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York area. Speakers include Ken Wolski (CMMNJ), Stacia Cosner (Associate Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy), Erik Williams (CampaignsWon, Executive Director CT NORML), Gabriel Sayegh (NY State Director, Drug Policy Alliance), Mallory Loflin (Graduate Student, SUNY-Albany), Evan Nison (Executive Director, NJNORML), Patrick Nightingale (Criminal Defense Attorney, Executive Director Pittsburgh NORML), Erik Altieri (Communications Director, National NORML), Allen St. Pierre (Executive Director, National NORML) and more to be announced soon…

PA State Senator Daylin Leach

PA State Senator Daylin Leach

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Pennsylvania State Senator, and sponsor of PA’s legalization bill, Daylin Leach will be giving a keynote address discussing his work on the issue, his recent legislation, and experience working for reform as a sitting politician. Don’t miss it!

Panel sessions will be held during the day in Claudia Cohen Hall at the University of Pennsylvania and the night will end with a fundraiser featuring live entertainment, a silent auction, and more at a local venue to be announced shortly.

Reserve your space today. You can purchase tickets to the panel sessions for $40 and tickets to the fundraiser for $20. A limited quantity of combo-passes are also available for $50, giving you access to both events.

Further information, including agenda, more speakers, entertainment and more will be forthcoming.

CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR TICKETS TODAY!

Hope to see you in the City of Brotherly Love this March.

The MedZilla Report for March 2011 — Health Care Information Technology on the Rise


(Vocus/PRWEB) March 09, 2011

The U.S. employment situation remained relatively static in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 8.9 percent. However, health care jobs increased by 34,000 — more than three times as many jobs created in February as in January. Many of those jobs were in primary care, as physicians plan to retire and Americans continue living longer (ama-assn.org, 2/24/11). However, layoffs were also up in February, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, who reported that companies nationwide planned to release just over 50,000 people, the highest total in 11 months. Of those 50,000, though, only 335 were in pharmaceuticals and 1,337 in health care.

“Health care remains a consistent growth industry in the U.S.,” said John Burkhardt, Managing Director of MedZilla.com, the internet’s most established source for health care, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology employment information. “It’s not just doctors and nurses, though, that are benefiting; as the PPACA — health care reform — comes closer to its final effective date in 2014, information technology roles will continue to grow in both scope and number.” Dell recently introduced a new suite of health service technology including cloud storage, intended to lower data storage costs and increase efficiency (tmcnet.com, 2/22/11). At a healthcare information management trade show, Allied Telesis recently demonstrated new imaging and conferencing technology (prnewswire.com, 2/21/11). Hewlett-Packard and Adobe have developed new solutions (channelinsider.com, 2/18/11; fastcompany.com, 2/24/11). Even Watson, the first non-human Jeopardy! competitor, is getting in on the action: IBM is working with Nuance Technology to increase the device’s ability to comprehend and answer questions in natural language (digitaltrends.com, 2/18/11). “People who never thought they’d be getting jobs in healthcare might someday be reporting to hospitals or medical technology firms,” Burkhardt added.

February’s candidate search numbers from MedZilla.com speak to Burkhardt’s point — companies seeking qualified applicants increased their search activities by 2.5 percent in February. Companies who increased candidate searches in general were mostly located in California (up four percent) and New Jersey (3.1); however, numbers dropped significantly in North Carolina and Texas — both down 3.3 percent. Job postings by employers and job searches by applicants remained fairly even, month-to-month, with only New Jersey showing a significant change — up 1.3 percent in postings and 1.2 percent in searches. “We haven’t seen corresponding changes — in New Jersey or anywhere else — with technology-minded applicants looking for jobs in health care information technology,” said Del Johnston, MedZilla’s Manager of Client Relations. “Our numbers for the past few months haven’t shifted much one way or the other. It’s still very possible to scoop everyone else and try to get in on the ground floor with health care I.T.”

Johnston also followed up on recent MedZilla coverage of looming layoffs in the U.K. National Health Service. “News on that front was pretty light in February, although the Department of Health has said they won’t confirm figures of over 50,000 that have been in the news lately.” One advocacy group stated that, despite the government’s plan to eliminate many jobs through natural means rather than direct firings, they couldn’t see where the cuts would come from other than patient care (nasdaq.com, 2/23/11). Meanwhile, in Canada, many Saskatchewan health care workers who may wish to strike amid contract talks are being denied that opportunity due to being considered “essential” (winnipegfreepress.com, 2/16/11).

In the U.S., a legal — though questionable — activity might impact current and future employment for anyone in the health care field. Many medical — and other — companies are trying to transition from “smoke-free” to “smoker-free” workplaces, in part to cut costs; in doing so, they have instituted testing and penalty procedures equating nicotine with illegal drugs such as marijuana (nytimes.com, 2/10/11). “Because smoking is a voluntary activity, rules against discrimination do not apply,” said Burkhardt. “Though things are getting better, the job market is still extremely competitive and many people are still having difficulty finding jobs, especially if they’ve been out of work for a while. Quitting smoking might not give you an edge, but it will give potential employers one less thing they can hold against you when they compare you with other candidates.”

About MedZilla.com:

Established in mid-1994, MedZilla is the original and leading web site to serve career and hiring needs for professionals and employers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, science and healthcare. The MedZilla jobs database contains about 7,500 open positions. The resume database currently contains over 285,000 resumes with 26,000 less than three months old. These resources have been characterized as the largest, most comprehensive databases of their kind on the web in the industries served.

Medzilla

Arizona Superior Court Judge: State-Licensed Dispensing Of Medical Cannabis Is Not Preempted By Federal Law

A 2010 voter-approved Arizona state law authorizing “the local cultivation, sale, and use, of medical marijuanais not preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act, according to the Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County.

The ruling, issued earlier this month by Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon, allows for the establishment of state-licensed medicinal cannabis dispensaries within Arizona — the first of which opened its doors last week. State-licensed medical marijuana facilities now operate in several states, including Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Maine.

A majority of Arizona voters approved the AMMA in 2010. Under the law, qualified patients may possess and, depending on where they reside, cultivate cannabis. The program also mandates the state to license citizens to form not-for-profit dispensaries to grow and dispense cannabis. AMMA requires that each of the state’s 126 Community Health Care Analysis Areas permit at least one dispensary operator. Maricopa County’s prosecutor sought to block the establishment of local dispensaries by claiming that AMMA was preempted by federal anti-drug laws.

Writing for the Court in White Mountain Health Center, Inc. v. Maricopa County, Judge Gordon declared that nothing in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act circumvents federal law since Justice Department officials, if they wished to do so, could still continue to locally enforce the Controlled Substances Act. “No one can argue that the federal government’s ability to enforce the CSA is impaired to the slightest degree [by Arizona’s medical marijuana law],” Gordon opined, adding that the new law “affirmatively provides a roadmap for federal enforcement of the CSA, if they so wished to” since the statute requires patients and proprietors to register their activities with the state.

Judge Gordon further suggested that Arizona’s law did not conflict with the federal lawmakers’ intentions when they enacted the federal Controlled Substances Act. He declared, “Instead of frustrating the CSA’s purpose, it is sensible to argue that the AMMA furthers the CSA’s objectives in combating drug abuse and the illegitimate trafficking of controlled substances.”

He concluded: “The Court rejects … arguments that the [law] violates public policy simply because marijuana use and possession violate federal law. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation permitting the use of marijuana in whole or in part. The Court will not rule that Arizona, having sided with the ever-growing minority of States, and having limited it to medical use, has violated public policy.”

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is appealing Judge Gordon’s ruling.

Arizona regulations regarding patient access and dispensary operations is available from the Arizona Department of Health Services here.

weGrow to Open Marijuana Superstore in Phoenix


(PRWEB) May 04, 2011

New signage on an old Phoenix warehouse is one of the first visible indicators of the billion-dollar medical marijuana industry?s arrival in the Valley of the Sun. weGrow, the marijuana superstore franchise that sells products and services to help patients grow marijuana for medical purposes, is set to open its 21,000 square-foot store in Phoenix on June 1.

Known as the, ?Walmart of weed,? weGrow?s new store will be the largest hydroponics store in Phoenix to date.

Located at 2937 W. Thomas Road, weGrow does not sell any marijuana itself, just everything cultivators need to grow it. In addition to the largest selection of hydroponic supplies, weGrow features live indoor grow demonstrations with real plants, expert technicians to help customers build professional grow rooms, an on-site medical doctor for patient evaluations and classes on how to safely and responsibly cultivate medical marijuana.

June 1 also marks the date that the Arizona Department of Health Services will accept applications for initial dispensary registration certificates. The billion-dollar industry is expected to see around 100,000 potential patients in Arizona and is approved for 124 dispensaries.

?Many of the 124 dispensary permit winners will have never grown medical marijuana before- where are they supposed to go to learn about safe and responsible marijuana cultivation?” said Dhar Mann, weGrow founder. ?The weGrow Phoenix store will be a full-service resource for patients and growers that offers much more than just hydroponics equipment.”

In anticipation of upcoming Arizona dispensaries, last week weGrow issued an RFP for cannabis testing companies interested in opening an on-site laboratory to examine medical marijuana before patient consumption.

The franchise is growing fast as more states legalize cannabis for medicinal use. weGrow currently operates stores in California and has immediate plans to open in Colorado, Oregon, New Jersey and Washington D.C. following the Phoenix opening.

weGrow will hold a press conference featuring industry experts followed by a public grand opening event called ?weGrow Phoenix: The Green Rush? on June 1 at the new store. The event is expected to draw a massive crowd and will feature live entertainment, industry suppliers and support businesses, grow demonstrations and much more.

For more information about weGrow and the grand opening festival, please visit http://www.wegrowstore.com.

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