Pennsylavania Cities Continue to Embrace Decriminalization of Marijuana

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With the recent passage of a marijuana decriminalization ordinance, the City of York joins Philadelphia, State College, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg in no longer criminalizing the simple possession of small amounts of marijuana. Following several meetings to discuss the proposal, members of city council heard from Chris Goldstein, executive director of Philadelphia NORML and Les Stark, executive director of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. Both spoke in support of the proposal and even provided encouraging data showing a decline in marijuana arrests in other municipalities that adopted similar measures.

“Towns across Pennsylvania are moving away from handcuffs and towards issuing fines instead, that’s good new sin a state where we have more than 18,000 consumers arrested every year,” said Chris Goldstein.

Similar to other decriminalization measures that have been adopted by municipalities in the Commonwealth, the ordinance approved by the York City Council replaces criminal prosecution and potential jail time with a simple fine or community service for those possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana. The ordinance also decriminalized the public consumption of marijuana.

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While local governments across Pennsylvania continue to adopt measures to reduce the penalty for personal possession of marijuana from jail time to a simple fine, state lawmakers have been more apprehensive on the issue. But advocates are hopeful things will change as the conversation advances on the local level. “This really puts the pressure on legislators in Harrisburg to vote on statewide bills and start having the bigger conversation about full legalization,” added Goldstein.

Read more here: http://www.ydr.com/story/news/2017/07/19/york-city-council-passes-bill-decriminalize-possession-small-amounts-marijuana/480013001/

For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania, follow Philly NORML by visiting their website and Facebook page!

Pennsylvania Governor to AG Sessions: Back Off!

In a recent letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf wrote a pointed letter regarding the Department of Justice and it’s posturing to implement a crackdown of lawful state medical marijuana programs.

The full letter:

Dear Attorney General Sessions:

Last year, the Pennsylvania passed bipartisan legislation to legalize Medical Marijuana that I was proud to sign into law. The legislation was the result of conversations with Republicans and Democrats and fierce advocacy from families of children who were stricken with terrible illness that could be helped by Medical Marijuana.

We talked to kids who suffer dozens of seizures in a given day. We met veterans who have seen absolute terror and seek relief from the effects of their post-traumatic stress. We approached the responsibility of providing relief to the people of Pennsylvania very thoughtfully.

Since I signed the legislation, we have taken very careful and deliberate steps to implement the law so that those who are suffering can get relief while ensuring that the state is a responsible steward of the program.

Given the bipartisan and medical consensus for Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania and many other states, I am disturbed to know that you are actively pursuing a change in federal law to go after medical marijuana suppliers.

We do not need the federal government getting in the way of Pennsylvania’s right to deliver them relief through our new medical marijuana program.

Your action to undo the protections of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents the use federal funds to disrupt states’ efforts to implement “their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana” is misguided.

If you seek to further disrupt our ability to establish a legal way to deliver relief of medical marijuana to our citizens, I will ask the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to take legal action to protect our residents and state sovereignty.

Sincerely,

Governor Tom Wolf

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Photo by Gage Skidmore

Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Photo by Gage Skidmore

This comes in response to a recently revealed private letter that Jeff Sessions sent to Congressional leadership requesting that the DOJ be permitted to target and prosecute state-licensed medical cannabis facilities, currently prohibited by a spending rider known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” Sessions wrote, “The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

Jeff Sessions actually seems to believe that lawful medical marijuana patients, i.e. sick people, are causing the violent crime and contributing to transnational drug trafficking.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was questioned about federal marijuana policy during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week and he brought up current DOJ policy and left the door wide open to a potential crackdown.

“Jim Cole tried to deal with it in that memorandum and at the moment that memorandum is still in effect. Maybe there will be changes to it in the future but we’re still operating under that policy which is an effort to balance the conflicting interests with regard to marijuana,” stated Rosenstein, “So I can assure you that is going to be a high priority for me as the U.S. Attorneys come on board to talk about how to deal with that challenge in the states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, whether it be for recreational or medical use…”

The Cole Memo, is a Justice Department memorandum, authored by US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

But while the Justice Department contemplates its next move, Wolf and other state politicians are taking action. Recently, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) issued a letter to the new U.S. Attorney General and to Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin calling on them to uphold the Obama Administration’s largely ‘hands off’ policies toward marijuana legalization, as outlined in the Cole Memo.

“Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

Click here to send a message to your member of Congress to urge them to force the Department of Justice to respect state marijuana laws and then visit http://norml.org/act to support other efforts in your state and federally.

PA resident? Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers to support the effort to decriminalize marijuana in the Keystone State.

Congressional Protections For Legal State Medical Marijuana Programs Expected To Be Extended

3410000930_95fc2866fa_zWe welcome the extension and expansion of critical marijuana policy provisions through September 30 in the proposed fiscal year 2017 omnibus funding legislation.

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

Congress deciding to maintain protections for state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs in the era of a Department of Justice being led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions means that patients ailing from conditions that range from cancer to PTSD can breathe a temporary sigh of relief. Once approved, states will be able to continue to service and implement these programs without fear of federal incursion until September 30 of this year.

Yet, this action is only a stopgap measure at best. Ultimately, Congress needs to amend federal law in a manner that comports with the available science, public opinion, and with America’s rapidly changing cultural and legal landscape. Such action includes removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act so that states possess the flexibility to engage in their own marijuana regulatory policies how best they see fit.

The text in the omnibus funding legislation is:
Page 230 – “SEC. 537. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, 25 Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

 

Pennsylvania Marijuana Activists Continue to Push the Issue

15134788_1361964283815279_7643241837130367190_nHundreds of marijuana law reform advocates from across Pennsylvania gathered last week at the state capitol to express their support for marijuana legalization and also to express concerns regarding the future of the state’s limited medical cannabis program. The event was coordinated by local reform groups Pittsburgh NORML, Philly NORML, and the Keystone Cannabis Coalition to raise awareness about marijuana laws in the Commonwealth.

“On Wednesday dedicated activists from across the Commonwealth gathered in Harrisburg, our state capitol, to demand the end of criminal prohibition for cannabis possession,” said Patrick Nightingale, executive director of Pittsburgh NORML. “Speakers decried the waste of law enforcement resources while the Commonwealth is in the midst of a true opioid crisis.”

Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale kicked of the event with a powerful speech that electrified the hundreds of pro-legalization activists who gathered in the capitol rotunda. In addition to highlighting the many failures of marijuana prohibition, AG DePasquale also encouraged state lawmakers to consider options for a statewide solution such as decriminalization or outright legalization.

“We have a real and legitimate political voice in Harrisburg. Gone are the days of closed doors and whispered insults,” said Nightingale. “Now more and more of our elected leaders know that we are on the right side of history and that the ruinous and racist legacy of cannabis prohibition must end.”

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While local governments in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg have each approved measures to reduce the penalty for personal possession of marijuana from jail time to a simple fine, state lawmakers have been more apprehensive on the issue. But advocates are hopeful things will change as the conversation advances.

“While PA’s conservative legislature may not be prepared to make the jump to full legalization, there is growing bipartisan support for statewide decriminalization with a Republican sponsored bill headed to Committee on Monday,” added Nightingale.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Pennsylvania lawmakers and urge them to support House Bill 928 by clicking here!

Read more here: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/news/auditor-general-speaks-at-harrisburg-marijuana-rally-in-support-of/article_a546ae06-2605-11e7-93c5-177c718a0193.html

For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania, follow Pittsburgh NORML by visiting their website and Facebook page!

West Virginia: Lawmakers Approve Amended Medical Marijuana Measure

oil_bottlesWest Virginia legislators on Thursday approved a significantly amended version of Senate Bill 386, which seeks to establish a state-regulated medical cannabis program. The measure now awaits action from Democrat Gov. Jim Justice, who has previously expressed support for permitting qualified patients access cannabis therapy.

If signed into law, West Virginia will become the 30th state to authorize by statute the physicians-recommended use of cannabis or cannabis-infused products.

Under the amended measure, qualified patients will be permitted to obtain cannabis-infused oils, pills, tinctures, or creams from a limited number of state-authorized dispensaries. Cannabis-based medications will be produced by state-licensed growers and processors. Patients will not be permitted to grow their own cannabis, nor will they be able to legally access or smoke herbal formulations of the plant. Similar restrictive programs are presently in place in Minnesota and New York and are awaiting implementation in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

To participate in the proposed program, both patients and physicians would need to be registered with the state. Government officials are not mandated under the legislation to begin issuing patient identification cards until July 1, 2019.

NORML’s Legislative Round Up September 2nd, 2016

thumbs_upIn this week’s Round Up we’ll update you regarding the status of a number of state and local ballot measures, and we’ll also highlight new legislation signed into law this week in Delaware. Plus we’ll give you the details on the latest Governor to endorse marijuana decriminalization. Keep reading below to get this week’s news in marijuana law reform!

State:

Arizona: The Supreme Court this week rejected a lawsuit that sought to prohibit Proposition 205, the Arizona Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, from going before voters this November. The Act allows adults twenty-one years of age and older to possess and grow specified amounts of marijuana (up to one ounce of marijuana flower, up to five grams of marijuana concentrate, and/or the harvest from up to six plants). It creates a system for licensed businesses to produce and sell marijuana and establishes a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana.

Voters in four additional states, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada, will also be deciding on similar adult use initiatives on Election Day.

Arkansas: The Secretary of State’s office this week certified that a competing medical marijuana initiative, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, will also appear on the electoral ballot in November. Unlike Issue 7, The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, this second initiative does not include provisions allowing eligible patients to cultivate their own cannabis at home.

Statewide polling reports greater public support for the Medical Cannabis Act. Under state law, if voters approve both measures the one that receives the greatest number of votes will become law.

Voters in three additional states, Florida, North Dakota, and Montana, will decide on similar medical use measures in November. In Missouri, campaigners are litigating to ask the courts to review signature totals in the state’s second Congressional district.

Colorado: A municipal initiative effort that sought to permit for the adult use of marijuana in licensed establishments failed to qualify for the November ballot. The Responsible Use Denver initiative, backed by Denver NORML, needed 4,726 signatures to qualify for inclusion on November ballot. The campaign submitted more than 7,500 signatures, but just 2,987 were verified as eligible by the Denver Elections Division. The Campaign posted: “We are sad to report that our language did not make the November ballot. We plan to continue pushing the conversation with the city of Denver. Our opinion remains the same, that we have what we feel is the best solution for the city of Denver. Thank you to everyone that has supported us on this journey.” City officials did confirm that a separate municipal initiative seeking to establish a ‘Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program’ will appear on November’s ballot.

pills_v_potDelaware: Governor Jack Markell signed legislation into law this week permitting terminally ill patients to access medical cannabis. House Bill 400 (aka ‘Bob’s bill’) permits physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to terminally ill adults. It also permits those under 18 to access CBD products if they are suffering from “pain, anxiety, or depression” related to a terminal illness.

The new law takes effect at the end of November.

Oklahoma: State Question 788, a statewide initiative to establish a state-licensing system to permit eligible patients to possess and cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, is unlikely to appear on the 2016 electoral ballot. Although the Secretary of State has certified that initiative proponents collected sufficient signatures, proponents are now challenging the attorney general’s rewording of the ballot title. The legal challenge could force the issue to be decided in a special election. Updated information regarding this initiative campaign may be found on NORML’s 2016 initiatives page.

Pennsylvania: Governor Tom Wolf expressed support for marijuana decriminalization this week stating, “too many people are going to prison because of the use of very modest amounts or carrying modest amounts of marijuana, and that is clogging up our prisons, it’s destroying families, and it’s hurting our economy.”

Marijuana decriminalization legislation, House Bill 2076, is currently pending before members of the House Judiciary committee. The legislation would amend the state’s controlled substances act so that minor marijuana possession offenses are considered a non-criminal offense. Contact your state House members and urge them to support this common sense legislation. #TakeAction

Tennessee: Members of the Nashville Metro Council voted 32 to 4 to approve legislation to lessen local marijuana possession penalties. The proposal amends penalties for the possession of or exchanging of up to one-half ounce of marijuana to a $50 civil penalty or 10 hours of community service. The vote was the first of three the bill will receive; it is the first time a marijuana decriminalization measure was considered by the legislative body.

Under current state law, individuals convicted of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana face a misdemeanor charge that is punishable of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. If you live in Nashville, consider contacting your Council member and urging them to support this common sense measure.

NORML’s Legislative Round Up July 22nd, 2016

take_actionThe DEA announced that they will amend their quotas for 2017 regarding the cultivation of research-grade marijuana and hemp legalization bills in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have been signed into law! We also have updates from Illinois, Florida, and Ohio. Keep reading to learn the latest in marijuana law reform news from around the country and to find out how you can #TakeAction!

Federal:

In a notice published in the Federal Register, Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg proposed amending the amount of marijuana that may be produced under federal license in 2017 to approximately 1,041 pounds. The agency alleges that this quantity will be sufficient to provide for the “estimated medical, scientific, research and industrial needs of the United States.”

The US Drug Enforcement Administration is also preparing to respond to an administrative petition calling for the reclassification of marijuana as a schedule I prohibited substance. Their determination was originally expected in the first half of 2016 but it has yet to be released.

State:

Florida: Next Tuesday, the state’s first state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary will open to the public. Trulieve, a licensed cannabis cultivator and distributor, will provide a high CBD, low THC strain of the plant to patients that are registered with the state. However, as of today not a single eligible patient is registered with the state to legally access the product. This is because Florida’s law, initially passed in 2014, is among the strictest in the country. Under the law, patients diagnosed with cancer, seizures, or intractable muscle spasms are eligible for CBD-dominant cannabis, while those diagnosed with a terminal illness are eligible for THC-dominant cannabis. To date, however, only 15 physicians in the state are participating in the program.

Illinois: Two months ago lawmakers voted in favor of Senate Bill 2228, legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. But Governor Bruce Rauner has yet to sign the measure into law. The bill makes the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100-$200 — no arrest and no criminal record. Currently, those caught possessing that amount could face up to six months of jail time and fines of up to $1,500. The bill also amends the state’s zero tolerance per se traffic safety law.

#TakeAction  and contact Governor Rauner to urge him to sign this legislation into law.

Ohio: Governor John Kasich has signed legislation so that certain drug offenses are no longer punishable by a mandatory loss of one’s driver’s license. Under previous law, any drug conviction carried a mandatory driver’s license suspension of at least six months, even in cases where the possession offense did not take place in a vehicle. Senate Bill 204 makes such suspensions discretionary rather than mandatory. The law will take effect September 13th, 2016.

industrial_hempPennsylvania: On Wednesday, July 20th, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation, House Bill 967, to establish “a pilot program to study the growth, cultivation or marketing of industrial hemp.” The new law took immediate effect. Twenty-eight states have now enacted similar legislation.

Rhode Island: Governor Gina Raimondo has signed legislation, H8232, to establish rules for the commercial, licensed cultivation of hemp in the state. The legislation creates the “Hemp Growth Act” to treat hemp as an agricultural product that may be legally produced, possessed, distributed and commercially traded. The Department of Business Regulation will be responsible for establishing rules and regulations for the licensing and regulation of hemp growers and processors.

National and Philly NORML Turn Philadelphia Green on St. Patrick’s Day with Mid-Atlantic Conference

Photo Credit: Diane Fornbacher

NORML Mid-Atlantic Conference
Photo Credit: Diane Fornbacher

Last weekend, National and Philly NORML convened the first ever Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in Philadelphia, PA. The gathering drew over a hundred activists from across the region who listened to a diverse line up of speakers ranging from academic researchers, to sitting politicians, to drug policy experts.

Leaders from numerous NORML chapters were present and addressed the crowd including Patrick Nightingale from Pittsburgh NORML, Evan Nison from NJ NORML, Kevin Clough and Joe Forte of Philly NORML, and Erik Williams of Connecticut NORML. They were joined by notable speakers including Gabriel Sayegh (DPA), Ken Wolski (CMMNJ), Rob Cantrell (Stand-up Comedian), Stacia Cosner (SSDP), Mike Liszewski (ASA), Marc Connuck (PA Farmers for Hemp), Jahan Marcu (PhD Candidate, Temple Medical School), Mallory Loflin (SUNY Albany), as well as Erik Altieri and Allen St. Pierre (National NORML). NORML Board of Directors members Rick Cusick and Diane Fornbacher also were on panels.

NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, PhillyNORML Secretary Joe Forte, and PA State Senator Daylin Leach Photo Credit: Ellie Paisley

NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, PhillyNORML Secretary Joe Forte, and PA State Senator Daylin Leach
Photo Credit: Ellie Paisley

Attendees were treated to an engaging keynote address from State Senator Daylin Leach, the primary sponsor of Pennsylvania’s legalization bill. You can view highlights of the speech here and the full video here.

Also featured was Pennsylvania State Representative Mark Cohen, a long time supporter of marijuana law reform in the state, who gave those present advice on how they could best aid their lawmakers in their efforts.

The evening ended with a Private Fundraiser featuring entertainment from the likes of comedian Rob Cantrell and local Philadelphia reggae act, Cultureal.

You can read some coverage of the event below:
Philly.com – Philly420: Cannabis for St. Patrick’s in Philly
PhillyRecord – Leach: Pa. GOP Senators Support Legal Pot – On The QT
CannaCentral – NORML Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference
Live Illustrations of Panel Content by Jonny Goldstein

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

Bill to Legalize Marijuana Introduced in Maryland

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

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

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

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

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

PA State Senator Daylin Leach Formally Introduces Marijuana Legalization Bill Today in Harrisburg

Today, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach will formally introduce a bill to tax and regulate marijuana in Pennsylvania.

“This past November, the people of Washington State and Colorado voted to fully legalize marijuana,” said Leach. “It is time for Pennsylvania to be a leader in jettisoning this modern-day prohibition, and ending a policy that has been destructive, costly and anti-scientific.”

NORML applauds Senator Leach for taking this important step forward to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in his state. Pennsylvania has long been considered a bellwether state that sets the precedent for politics across the country, as such it is both exciting and encouraging to see the Keystone State take up this crucial dialogue,” said Erik Altieri, Communications Director for NORML, “Marijuana prohibition costs the state of Pennsylvania over 300 million dollars a year in enforcement costs and tens of millions a year in lost potential tax revenue, while doing little to keep the substance out of the hands of children or lower use rates. It is time for a new policy that works for the state and its people. We encourage all of Senator Leach’s colleagues in Harrisburg to join him in this call for rational marijuana laws.”

Speaking at Monday’s press conference will be Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Dr. David Nathan, a clinical associate professor from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The press conference will be aired live online here at 2pm EST on February 11th.

If you live in Pennsylvania, you can easily contact your state representatives and tell them to support this legislation by visiting NORML’s Take Action Center here.

Senator Daylin Leach will be the keynote speaker at the NORML Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, you can purchase your tickets to that event by clicking here.

NORML will keep you updated as this important reform effort moves forward in Pennsylvania. For further information, please visit PhillyNORML or Pittsburgh NORML’s websites here and here.

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.

Several States Considering Legislation To Legalize Adult Cannabis Consumption

Several States Considering Legislation To Legalize Adult Cannabis ConsumptionWashington, DC: Lawmakers in several states are anticipated to debate legislative measures this year that seek to legalize and regulate the adult use and retail distribution of marijuana.

To date, lawmakers in six statesHawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont – have either pre-filed or introduced legislation to legalize marijuana consumption for adults.

On Friday, members of Hawaii’s House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony regarding House Bill 699, which seeks to tax and regulate the commercial production, sale, and use of cannabis by those persons age 21 or older. House Chairman, Rep. Joseph Souki, is sponsoring the measure. Nearly six out of ten Hawaii voters believe that cannabis should be "taxed, regulated, and legalized for adults," according to a statewide poll published earlier this month. Only 39 percent of respondents opposed the idea. You can read NORML’s written testimony to the committee here.

According to a January 2013 New Hampshire poll conducted by the firm Public Policy Polling, 53 percent of respondents favor "changing (state) law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol." Only 37 percent of respondents opposed the plan.

In Vermont, a 2012 survey of respondents in 148 Vermont cities throughout the state reported that one out of two Vermonters support legalization.

On Election Day, 55 percent of voters in Colorado and Washington approved citizens’ ballot initiatives legalizing the adult consumption of marijuana and authorizing the state to license individuals to commercially produce and sell it.

Nationally, nearly six out of ten Americans support legalizing cannabis, according to a just released Public Policy Polling automated telephone survey of 1,325 voters, commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project.

"Calling for an end to marijuana prohibition is no longer a political liability; it is a political opportunity," said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. "Never in modern history has there been greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with cannabis prohibition and replacing it with a system of legalization and regulation. Politicians who are seeking to amend this failed policy are aligning themselves with the majority. Those who do not are siding with an ever decreasing minority of their constituents."

Hawaii Joins Four Other States Considering Marijuana Legalization Measures

Representative Joseph Souki, Chair of the Hawaiian House Committee on Transportation and House Speaker Emeritus, has introduced legislation that would make Hawaii the third state to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.

House Bill 150 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over the age of 21, in addition to allowing for the licensing and regulation of marijuana retail stores, as well as cultivation and manufacturing centers.

Polling conducted this month by the ACLU of Hawaii found that 57% of Hawaiians support taxing and regulating marijuana and only 39% were opposed.

Hawaii now joins Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont on the list of states with pending legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana, with more expected to join them in the coming weeks. It is no longer a question of if these states will join Colorado and Washington in adopting new and sensible marijuana laws, but which one will do it first. Perhaps, in honor of the Choom Gang, President Obama’s birth state of Hawaii will lead the charge.

It is extremely important your elected officials hear from you in support of these measures. You can find out if your state is currently considering marijuana law reform legislation and easily send a pre-written letter of support to your elected officials by using NORML’s Take Action Center here. If you live in one of the five states (Hawaii, Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) considering the legalization of marijuana for all adults, you can click on the appropriate link below and go directly to your state’s action alert.

Tell Your Elected Officials to Support Marijuana Legalization!

Hawaii
Maine
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Vermont

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Pennsylvania State Senator Prefiles Marijuana Legalization Bill, Pennsylvanians Approve

Last week, state Senator from Montgomery County Daylin Leach announced his intentions to file legislation that would legalize the adult use of marijuana, in a way similar to the laws recently approved in Colorado and Washington.

“I acknowledge that it may take a while, but like same-sex marriage,” stated Sen. Leach, “this will inevitably happen. Demographics and exposure will in time defeat irrational fears, old wives tales and bad science. This bill furthers the discussion, which hastens the day.”

This legislation, if approved, would help halt the arrest of thousands of Pennsylvanians annually. Since 2006, 24,685 arrests were made for just marijuana possession at a cost of over 300 million dollars to the state’s taxpayers.

“It is time for Pennsylvania to be a leader in jettisoning this modern-day prohibition, and ending a policy that has been so destructive, costly, and anti-scientific,” Sen. Leach declared.

Pennsylvania has long been considered a bellwether state, so to see the issue at least being entertained in the state legislature can only be a positive sign of things to come. Let’s hope other elected officials in Pennsylvania join with state Senator Leach to support these sensible reforms.

If NORML’s Take Action Center is anything to go by, the citizens of the Keystone State want it. In just the first 24 hours of going live, Pennsylvanians sent over 900 emails and letters to their elected officials urging them to support this legislation.

If you live in Pennsylvania and want to join in the call for marijuana legalization, simply click here and you can easily send a prewritten email or letter to your elected officials telling them it is time to support legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana, not criminalize it.

PENNSYLVANIANS: Click here to contact your representatives in favor of this bill today!

Don’t live in Pennsylvania? There is already marijuana reform legislation filed in ten other states, with many more sure to follow in the coming days. Be sure to keep checking NORML’s Take Action Center to see if your state is one of them and to contact your officials!

Together, we can NORMLIZE CONGRESS. Together, we will legalize marijuana.

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