80 Years Ago Today: President Signs First Federal Anti-Marijuana Law

norml_remember_prohibition2Eighty years ago today, on August 2, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt signed House Bill 6385: the Marihuana Tax Act into law. The Act for the first time imposed federal criminal penalties on activities specific to the possession, production, and sale of cannabis.

Congress’ decision followed the actions of 29 states, beginning with Massachusetts in 1914, that had previously passed laws criminalizing the plant over the prior decades. It also followed years of ‘Reefer Madness,’ during which time politicians, bureaucrats (led primarily by Federal Bureau of Narcotics Director Harry Anslinger), reporters, and science editors continually proclaimed that marijuana use irreparably damaged the brain. A 1933 editorial in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology largely summarized the sentiment of the time, “If continued, the inevitable result is insanity, which those familiar with it describe as absolutely incurable, and, without exception ending in death.”

On April 14, 1937, Rep. Robert L. Doughton of North Carolina introduced HR 6385, which sought to stamp out the recreational use of marijuana by imposing a prohibitive federal tax on all cannabis-related activities. Members of Congress held only two hearings to debate the merits of the bill, which largely relied on the sensational testimony of Anslinger — who opined, ”This drug is entirely the monster Hyde, the harmful effect of which cannot be measured.” Over objections from the American Medical Association, whose representatives opposed the proposed federal ban, members of the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure by voice votes.

President Franklin Roosevelt promptly signed the legislation into law and on October 1, 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act officially took effect — thus setting in motion the federal prohibition that continues to this day.

0 years of failure. Click here to urge federal leadership to support The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 in the US Senate and click here to support The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 in the US House of Representatives.

New Hampshire: Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Signed Into Law

thumbs_upRepublican Gov. Chris Sununu signed legislation today decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.

House Bill 640, which takes effect in 60 days, eliminates criminal penalties for the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of cannabis and/or up to five grams of hashish for those age 18 or older. Under the new law, first time offenders will receive a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.

Presently, first-time marijuana possession is punishable by up to one year in prison, a potential $2,000 fine, and a criminal record.

New Hampshire will soon join the chorus of states that recognize the baseline level of dignity for it’s citizens and tourists who choose to consume marijuana,” said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. “Soon, throughout New England, individuals will be able to freely travel without the threat of jail time for possession of marijuana.”

New Hampshire is the only New England state that presently treats minor possession offenses as a criminal offense.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott Vetoes Marijuana Legalization

Cannabis PenaltiesRepublican Gov. Phil Scott today rejected legislation, Senate Bill 22, that sought to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for the adult use and possession of marijuana. The Governor said that he did not support the legislation as written, but remains open to working with lawmakers over the summer on ways to amend the state’s cannabis policies.

Representatives from the Vermont Association of Police Chiefs, the Vermont Medical Society, and the Vermont American Academy of Pediatrics were among those groups opposing S. 22.

“It is disappointing that Gov. Scott would not only defy the will of state legislators, but also the will of the majority of Vermont voters who support ending criminal penalties for those adults who consume cannabis responsibly,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Minor marijuana possession offenders should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it. Rather than looking to the future, Gov. Scott seems intent on repeating the failures of the past.”

Senate Bill 22 would have amended state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to two mature plants (and up to four immature plants) would have no longer been subject to penalty, beginning July 1, 2018. It also established a nine member commission to make recommendations to the legislature regarding how best to regulate the adult use marijuana market.

State lawmakers approved the measure earlier this month. It was the first time that a legislative body ever approved legislation eliminating criminal and civil penalties for adults who possess or grow marijuana for non-medical purposes.

House lawmakers in 2016 rejected similar legislation. That measure had been supported by former Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Vermont: Lawmakers Approve Measure Eliminating Penalties For The Adult Use Of Marijuana

thumbs_upHouse and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, Senate Bill 22, to eliminate criminal and civil penalties specific to the adult use and possession of marijuana.

The measure amends state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to two mature plants (and up to four immature plants) is no longer subject to penalty. It also establishes a nine member commission to make recommendations to the legislature regarding how best to regulate the adult use marijuana market.

If enacted into law, the penalty changes would go into effect on July 1, 2018.

Senate Bill 22 now awaits action from Gov. Phil Scott, who has previously expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana but has also said that “the timing’s not right” for legalization. In February, his office came out strongly in opposition to a more expansive Senate proposal that sought to license and regulate the commercial cultivation and retail sale of cannabis to adults.

Vermont’s legislature is the first ever to approve legislation eliminating criminal and civil penalties for adults who possess or grow marijuana for non-medical purposes.

If you reside in Vermont, you can contact the Governor in support of S. 22 by clicking here.

Nevada: Retail Marijuana Sales To Begin This July

thumbs_upNevada regulators have approved rules to allow for the expedited sales of cannabis to adults.

Members of the Nevada Tax Commission voted 6 to 1 on Monday to license select medical dispensaries to engage in retail sales of non-medical cannabis. Dispensaries in good standing with the state will be able to apply for “early start” licenses on May 15. Those facilities who are approved by state regulators will be able to engage in adult use marijuana sales on July 1.

A majority of voters decided last November in favor of The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, a voter-initiated measure regulating the commercial marijuana market. Provisions in the law eliminating criminal penalties regarding the personal possession of personal use quantities of cannabis took effect on January 1, 2017. Separate provisions in the measure regulating the commercial production and sales of cannabis were initially slated to take effect on January 1, 2018.

Regulators decision to expedite marijuana sales is in sharp contrast to the actions of lawmakers in several other states, including Maine and Massachusetts — both of which have taken steps to delay adult use marijuana sales by several months.

‘Faces of Marijuana Prohibition’ Event Held on Capitol Hill

NORML held a ‘Faces of Marijuana Prohibition’ event on Capitol Hill on April 19th, in cooperation with the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, where congressional staff heard first-hand from those most adversely impacted by the criminalization of marijuana

Dozens of congressional staff attended, hearing from victims across the spectrum of marijuana criminalization. Perspectives included: a cancer survivor who consumed marijuana to mitigate the effects of chemotherapy, a federal staffer who lost his job as a result of a positive drug test, and those who received criminal charges and had their lives put on hold while they had to overcome the onerous penalties imposed by the state for a simple possession charge, among others. 

NORML Political Director Justin StrekalThis was yet another effort in our ongoing quest to educate our legislators on the need to to end the prohibition-industrial-complex and respect the basic rights of those who choose to consume marijuana, a substance safer than currently legal products like alcohol or cigarettes.

Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana users is out-of-step with the views of adults throughout America, 93% of whom support medical marijuana (Quinnipiac, 2017) and 60 percent of whom endorse the outright legalization of recreational marijuana (Gallup, 2016).

On April 20th (4/20), long considered the unofficial marijuana holiday, marijuana consumers and advocates will gather around the world to show their support for ending marijuana prohibition. NORML for its part will hosting an online day of action, driving tens of thousands of constituent contacts to members of Congress in support of HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. 

You can sign up for the 4/20 online day of action by clicking here. 

KC NORML Successfully Decriminalized Marijuana in Kansas City

Ballot initiative run by local group passes 71 to 29 to end arrests for possession of marijuana

17800391_10155957557253032_3769984899767242784_nKansas City, MO – In a blowout victory for sensible criminal justice policy, the voters of Kansas City, Missouri have decided to approve Question 5 and decriminalize marijuana to direct their law enforcement officers to no longer target citizens for possession of the plant and would replace current criminal penalties with just a civil fine.

The measure will amend local laws regarding the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana for adults age 21 and older from a criminal misdemeanor, previously punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, to a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine — with no arrest made or criminal record imposed.

“We could not be more excited about the positive impact passing Question 5 will bring to the communities of Kansas City. We fought long and hard for this result and could not have done it without the support of our volunteers,” said Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of KC NORML. “The era of reefer madness in Kansas City has come to an end and no longer will otherwise law abiding citizens be targeted or arrested for the mere possession of marijuana.”

This is yet another victory in the march to end the criminalization of marijuana in the United States.

“The passage of this initiative is not just a victory for the people of Kansas City, but for the democratic process,” said Erik Altieri National NORML’s Executive Director, “When concerned citizens stand up, stand together, and fight back against unjust laws, we will win. The overwhelming majority of Americans want to end our nation’s war on marijuana consumers and politicians across the country should take heed of the message voters sent in Missouri: if you don’t reform our marijuana laws through the legislature, we the people will do it for you.”

Nationally, more than 600,000 people a year are arrested for simple marijuana possession alone. These arrests are disproportionately targeted, the ACLU found that the racial disparity in marijuana charges were levied against people over color, by nearly 4 to 1.

Kansas City now joins the ranks of dozens of cities and states throughout the country that have ended the practice of arresting marijuana consumers,” said Kevin Mahmalji, outreach coordinator for NORML. “We at NORML are incredibly proud of the efforts of Jamie Kacz and her team at KC NORML and thank the voters of Kansas City for bringing a new era of sanity their law enforcement priorities and the overarching movement to end the prohibition of marijuana.”

Kansas City now joins a growing list of cities around the country that have adopted a more pragmatic approach for dealing with marijuana-related offenses on the local level. Houston, Memphis, Nashville, Tampa, Orlando, Milwaukee, Monona, Toledo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and several others have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

For more information, visit http://www.normlkc.org/ or http://norml.org/ 

 

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NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.

Texas: HB 81 advances with a committee vote of 4-2!

By Jax Finkel
Texas NORML Executive Director

Texas-NORMLGreat news! Chairman Joe Moody’s House Bill 81, which would replace criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a simple ticket, has passed out of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee with a bipartisan vote of 4-2, with one member absent.

Now, the bill is headed to the Calendars Committee — the group of legislators who manage the voting schedule for the Texas House. What can you do to help?

Contact your representative in preparation for the vote. Send an email now or call their office to voice your support for a more sensible approach to low-level marijuana possession cases.

You can also support Texas NORML’s Lobby Campaign by becoming a subscribing donor to help us continue this important work.

If your representative serves on the Calendars Committee, he/she holds the key to when HB 81 will be voted on by the full House of Representatives, and your voice is especially important. (There’s no need to look up your representative — a different letter will load if your address shows you are in one of those key districts.)

Once the Calendars Committee schedules the bill for consideration, all 150 Texas representatives will cast a vote on marijuana policy for the first time in decades. Now is your chance to help prevent thousands of Texans from being branded with life-altering criminal convictions.

Contact your legislators today in support of HB 81! Then, spread the word so that other thoughtful Texans can speak out for humane marijuana policies.

Meaningful reform is within reach. Please take action today!

Sidenote: The chair of the Calendars Committee is Rep. Todd Hunter. In 2015, he supported marijuana law reform by voting for the Texas Compassionate Use Act and Rep. Simpson’s bill to regulate marijuana like jalapenos. Additionally, he voted for HB 81 when it was before the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee this session. We hope that this will have a positive bearing on the rest of the Calendars Committee. Additionally, Calendars will be addressing the budget and will not be addressing our issue until after that.

Please support the important work we are doing in Texas by supporting our lobbying efforts, making a donation or becoming a Texas NORML member.

 

This was originally posted on https://www.texasnorml.org/

Visit their site to find out more and get involved!

Weekly Legislative Roundup, 2/3/2017

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

With over 800 bills being filed in state legislatures and at the federal level, marijuana policy is moving fast.

A big thanks to the over 3,000 people who have emailed their elected officials through our action alerts in the last 6 days alone! Remember, bookmark our Action Page (http://norml.org/act) and keep checking for new updates.

If you haven’t yet, read NORML’s Paul Armentano’s most recent op-ed in The Hill newspaper “Voters demanded pot policy changes, it’s time for lawmakers to listen.”

Below are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week.

Make sure 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

Senate lawmakers are only days away from taking a vote that may have a drastic impact on the future of marijuana policy.

Sessions recently was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee and during his confirmation hearing, he failed to give a straight answer with regard to how the Justice Department should respond to states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use and left the door open for federal enforcement.

Click here to email your Senators and tell them to oppose Jeff Sessions

Arkansas

Senate legislation is pending, SB 238, to indefinitely halt the enactment of the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana law.

Specifically, the measure states that Arkansas patients may not legally access medical marijuana until the substance has been federally legalized.

This arrogant piece of legislation is a direct attempt to undermine an election outcome. Fifty-three percent of voters decided in November in favor of Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. State lawmakers have responsibility to abide by the will of the people, to do so in a timely manner, and to not let patients needlessly suffer.

AR Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

New Hampshire

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

HB640, sponsored by 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats, 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.

NH Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

Rhode Island

A coalition of Rhode Island lawmakers has reintroduced a marijuana legalization this legislative session.  

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.

A majority of Rhode Island residents support legalization and Jared Moffat, Director of Regulate Rhode Island, believes: “It’s time for Rhode Island to look very seriously at this issue and pass a bill. Otherwise, we risk falling behind those other states.”

RI Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

OTHER ACTIONS TO TAKE

Federal

Legislation is pending in the US House, HR 715, to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance and so that cannabidiol (CBD) is excluded from the federal definition of cannabis.

Cannabidiol is a non-mood altering constituent in the marijuana plant that possesses a variety of therapeutic effects, particularly anti-seizure properties. Over a dozen states recognize by statute that CBD is safe and therapeutically effective.

Further, the cannabis plant’s schedule I classification has long been inconsistent with the available evidence. Most recently, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a comprehensive report acknowledging that “conclusive or substantial evidence” exists for cannabis’ efficacy in patients suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. This finding is incompatible with the plant’s Schedule I status, which opines that it possess “no accepted medical use in the United States.” Twenty-nine states now permit physicians to authorize marijuana therapy to qualified patients.

While simply rescheduling marijuana under federal law will not end federal prohibition, it will bring about some needed changes in law. At a minimum, it would bring an end to the federal government’s longstanding intellectual dishonesty that marijuana ‘lacks accepted medical use.’ It would also likely permit banks and other financial institutions to work with state-compliant marijuana-related businesses, and permit employers in the cannabis industry to take tax deductions similar to those enjoyed by other businesses. Rescheduling would also likely bring some level of relief to federal employees subject to random workplace drug testing for off-the-job cannabis consumption.

For these reasons, we urge your support for HR 715 while also recognizing that ultimately cannabis must be removed from the Controlled Substances Act altogether. Passage of HR 715 is a first step in this process.

Click here to email your Congressional Representative now.

Iowa

Legislation is pending, HF 199, to establish a statewide medical marijuana program.

Under these proposals, qualified patients with intractable pain and other conditions would be able to obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities.

A more narrow version of this program is proposed by separate legislation, HF 198.

While the program proposed by the measures is a fairly narrow one, it is far superior to the state’s existing CBD-specific law, which only applies to patients with intractable epilepsy and fails to provide an in-state supply source for CBD-related medicine.

IA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

New Hampshire

Legislation is making its way through the New Hampshire House, HB 656, to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adult use.

Members of the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety heard testimony regarding the bill on Wednesday, February 2, at 2pm.

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.

NH Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

Kansas

Legislation is pending before lawmakers, The Kansas Safe Access Act, to establish regulations governing a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

The measure 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.

KS Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

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.

South Dakota is one of the only states that criminalizes the internal possession of marijuana or other controlled substances, and it is the only state that defines the activity as a felony offense.

SD Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

Tennessee

Legislation is pending in the House and Senate — SB 265 and HB 297 — to reduce penalties associated with the possession of one-eighth of marijuana (3.544 grams) to a fine-only offense.

Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine. Passage of these pending measures would reduce the penalty to a $50 fine and no possibility of jail time.

Simple marijuana possession would still remain classified as a misdemeanor.

TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

Additionally, legislation is pending in the Tennessee House, HB 173, to nullify the enactment of citywide marijuana decriminalization ordinances and to prevent additional municipalities from enacting similar marijuana reform measures.

The intent of the bill is to override the passage of recent citywide measures in Nashville and Memphis — both of which passed local ordinances last year making minor marijuana possession offenses a non-arrestable citation.

By contrast, state law classifies marijuana possession as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a criminal record.

TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

Vermont

Legislation is pending in the House, H. 170, to eliminate civil and criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults.

If passed, the measure would legalize the possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana, up to ten grams of hashish, and/or the cultivation of two marijuana plants in a private residence.

The measure would also reduce existing penalties for those who possess greater quantities of cannabis.

VT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

Wyoming

Wyoming lawmakers are debating HJR 11, a joint resolution to legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

This resolution legalizes and regulates the commercial cultivation and retail sale of marijuana to adults over the age of 21. Under this measure, adults would be able to legally possess up to three ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants in the privacy of their home.

WY Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

Additionally, legislation, HB 197, to amend marijuana possession penalties has passed out of Committee and now faces action on the House floor.

Passage of the measure would reduce 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.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee rejected a separate bill, HB 157, which NORML had endorsed that sought to decriminalize the possession of up to three ounces of marijuana.

WY Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

Maine Becomes Eighth State to Eliminate Marijuana Possession Penalties

Maine Yes on 1Maine has become the eighth state to eliminate criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.

Language in Question 1: the Marijuana Legalization Act, specific to the private possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults took effect today. It permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing medical cannabis program to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or the harvest of up to six mature plants.

Public use of marijuana is a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine.

Maine voters narrowly passed Question 1 on Election Day.

In response to Question 1, Maine lawmakers passed separate legislation, LD 88, permitting adults to possess up to five grams of marijuana concentrates. However, other provisions in the measure delay the implementation of retail marijuana sales until at least February 1, 2018. It also prohibits the possession of “edible retail marijuana products” until this date.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption and/or sale of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences.

Nevada: Adult Marijuana Use To Become Legal On January 1

NVThis Sunday, Nevada will become the seventh US state to eliminate criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.

“What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “Voters in the western region of the United States are leading the way toward the eventual nationwide re-legalization of marijuana by responsible adults. Federal laws need to reflect this reality, not deny it.”

On Election Day, 55 percent of Nevada voters approved Question 2, the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The law permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing medical cannabis program to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to 3.5 grams of cannabis concentrates. An adult may also lawfully grow up to six plants in their home if they reside 25 miles or more away from a marijuana retailer. Provisions in the law also permit for the possession and sale of marijuana-related paraphernalia as well as the gifting of small amounts of cannabis for no financial remuneration. Public use of the plant remains a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $600.

Separate provisions in the statute also license the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis, which will be subject to a 15 percent excise tax. Those regulations do not take effect until January 1, 2018.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences. Similar legislation in Maine is anticipated to go into effect later next month.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Amend Voter-Initiated Marijuana Legalization Measure

MAWith little debate, House and Senate lawmakers voted today to significantly amend Massachusetts’ voter-initiated marijuana law.

The vote sets the stage to delay the establishment of state-licensed marijuana retail facilities from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2018. Governor Charlie Baker, who campaigned against the initiative, must still sign off on the law change. [UPDATE: Gov. Baker signed the language into law on Friday, December 30.] Separate provisions in the law eliminating penalties for adults who privately possess or grow personal use quantities of cannabis took effect on December 15.

According to The Boston Globe, the “extraordinary move” by lawmakers took place in an “informal” legislative session with “just a half-dozen legislators present.”

NORML had been urging lawmakers to adopt the law swiftly as voters intended, and it continues to urge Massachusetts voters to take action.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri called lawmakers’ decision a “slap in the face” to the nearly two million Massachusetts voters who decided in favor of Question 4 on Election Day.

“The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is remarkable,” he said. “The voters have spoken and it is incumbent on legislators to carry out their will. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to impose criminal penalties on marijuana – doing so in 1914. After more than a century of this failed policy, it is time to bring prohibition to an end in Massachusetts.”

The move by lawmakers to delay aspects of the law’s implementation is not altogether surprising, as politicians and bureaucrats had previously discussed restricting home cultivation as well as raising the proposed sales taxes rate on marijuana sales.

Massachusetts: Over a Century Of Cannabis Criminalization Comes to an End

Legalize marijuanaMassachusetts today became the sixth US state to enact legislation eliminating criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis. The law change ends over a century-long policy of criminal cannabis prohibition in the Bay State. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to criminalize the use of marijuana — a policy it first enacted in 1911.

“By legalizing the adult use of marijuana, Massachusetts will shrink the illicit black market, generate millions in tax revenue, end the arrest of otherwise law abiding citizens, and better enable society to keep marijuana out of the hands of children,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences.

On Election Day, 54 percent of Massachusetts voters approved Question 4, The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. Question 4 permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing medical cannabis program to legally grow up to six plants, including all of the harvest from those plants, and to possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce and/or up to 5 grams of concentrate; in addition, adults may legally possess up to ten ounces of marijuana flower in their home). Public consumption of cannabis remains a civil violation.

Separate provisions in the statute also license the commercial cannabis production and retail sales of cannabis. Those regulations do not take effect until January 1, 2018. However, some state lawmakers have suggested delaying this timeline, raising the state’s proposed sales tax rate, and amending the state’s new home cultivation guidelines — proposals that NORML opposes.

If you live in Massachusetts, urge your lawmakers to move swiftly to fully implement Question 4: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act as written as approved by voters by clicking here.

Kansas City: NORML Chapter’s Decriminalization Effort Qualifies For City Ballot

chapter_spotlightPetitioners seeking to decriminalize municipal penalties specific to the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana have gathered sufficient signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, a representative from the Kansas City Clerk’s office confirmed today.

The proposal, spearheaded by Kansas City NORML, amends citywide penalties from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil fine, punishable by a $25 fine. Similar municipal measures are currently in place in St. Louis and in Columbia, Missouri.

Members of the city council have 60 days to either act on the measure or to place it before voters this spring in a special election.

Under state law, the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. On January 1, new sentencing provisions will take effect reclassifying the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana as a Class D misdemeanor, punishable by a fine but no jail.

Illinois: Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Measure

thumbs_upRepublican Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation today amending the state’s marijuana possession penalties.

Senate Bill 2228 reduces the penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine) to a civil fine of no more than $200 — no arrest and no criminal record.

It also decriminalizes related offenses involving the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

Senate Bill 2228 also amends the state’s zero tolerance per se traffic safety law, stating that the presence of THC in blood at levels below 5ng/ml “shall not give rise to any presumption that the person was or was not under the influence of cannabis.”

The full text of the measure is available here.

According to the ACLU, Illinois police arrest some 50,000 individuals annually for marijuana possession offenses — ranking #5 in the nation in per capita marijuana possession arrests.

Illinois becomes the third largest state to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses.

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