NORML Chapters Hope to Bring Marijuana Discussion To Congressional Town Hall Meetings

blogstickerNORML Chapters around the country are currently organizing efforts to engage their representatives on the issue of marijuana law reform during the upcoming congressional recess where members of the House and Senate will host town hall meetings in their districts. In addition to providing unique opportunities for face-to-face interactions with congressional representatives, town hall meetings provide our volunteers the chance to promote NORML’s message of ending the federal prohibition of marijuana to an audience of politically engaged voters.

With the help of Town Hall Project, a nonprofit organization that’s focused on empowering constituents across the country to have face-to-face conversations with their elected representatives, we have identified almost a dozen town hall meetings taking place in cities with strong NORML representation. To take advantage, NORML leadership is focused on mobilizing our supporters to ask specific questions and encourage their representatives to support legislation that will: protect consumers and businesses in legal marijuana states, expand access to medical marijuana for veterans, stop civil forfeiture and end the federal prohibition of marijuana.

Below is a list of town hall meetings that NORML Chapters will be targeting. We will continue to update the list as new town hall meetings are announced:

(Updated: 8/14/2017)

Rep. Ruben Kihuen (Democrat, NV-4)
Tuesday Aug 1, 2017 at 09:00 AM
Walnut Community Center
3075 N Walnut Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89115

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Republican, CA-48)
Tuesday Aug 1, 2017 at 6:30 PM
Aliso Niguel High School Gym
28000 Wolverine Way, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

Rep. Bradley Byrne (Republican, AL-1)
Thursday August 3 2017 at 3:00 PM
Gulf Shores City Hall
1905 W 1st St, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Rep. Steve Cohen (Democrat, TN-9)
Saturday August 5, 2017 at 10:00 AM
Memphis College of Art
1930 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

Rep. Will Hurd (Republican, TX-23)
Sunday August 6, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Horizon City Dairy Queen
800 N Zaragoza Rd, El Paso, TX 79907

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (Democrat, NC-1)
Tuesday August 8, 2017 at 6:00 PM
Bertie High School
716 US-13, Windsor, NC 27983

Rep. Donald Norcross (Democrat, NJ-1)
Wednesday August 9, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Carmen Tilelli Community Center
820 Mercer St, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

Rep. Glenn Thompson (Republican, PA-5)
Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 8:00 PM
WPSU
100 Innovation Blvd, University Park, PA 16802

Rep. Adam Smith (Democrat, WA-9)
Saturday August 12, 2017 at 10:00 AM
Foster High School Performing Arts Center
4242 S 144th St, Tukwila, WA 98168

Derek Kilmer (Democrat, WA-6)
Sunday August 13, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Aberdeen High School Auditorium
410 N G St, Aberdeen, WA 98520

Jimmy Panetta (Democrat, CA-20)
Monday August 14, 2017 at 6:00 PM
California State University Monterey Bay World Theater
5260 6th Ave, Seaside, CA 93955

Senator Maria Cantwell (Democrat, Senate)
Tuesday August 15, 2017 at 6:00 PM
Gonzaga University, Cataldo Hall, The Boone Room
502 E Boone Ave, Spokane, WA 99258

Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (Republican, NC-9)
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at 6:00 PM
Cleveland Community College – Mildred Keeter Auditorium
137 S Post Rd, Shelby, NC 28152

Rep. Gary Palmer (Republican, AL-6)
Thursday, August 17, 2017 at 6:30 PM
North Highlands Baptist Church
4851 15th Street Rd, Hueytown, AL 35023

Rep. David Scott (Democrat, GA-13)
Saturday August 19, 2017 at 09:00 AM
Mundy’s Mill High School
9652 Fayetteville Rd, Jonesboro, GA 30238

Rep. Trent Franks (Republican, AZ-8)
Tuesday August 22, 2017 at 7:00 AM
The Colonnade
19116 N Colonnade Way, Surprise, AZ 85374

Rep. Tom Rice (Republican, SC-7)
Chapin Memorial Library Meeting Room
Tuesday August 22, 2017 at 10:00 AM
400 14th Ave N, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

Rep. Bradley Byrne (Republican, AL-1)
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at 3:00 PM
John L. LeFlore Magnet High School,
700 Donald St, Mobile, AL 36617

Rep. Danny K. Davis (Democrat, IL-7)
Thursday August 24, 2017 at 7:00 AM
Oak Park Village Hall
123 Madison St, Oak Park, IL 60302

Rep. Rodney Davis (Republican, IL-13)
Friday August 25, 2017 at 8:30 AM
Litchfield City Hall
120 E Ryder St, Litchfield, IL 62056

Rep. Ami Bera (Democrat, CA-7)
Tuesday August 29, 2017 at 10:00 AM
Folsom Public Library
411 Stafford St, Folsom, CA 95630

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (Republican WI-5)
Saturday September 9, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Elm Grove Village Park
13600 Juneau Blvd, Elm Grove, WI 53122

To support these efforts, NORML has prepared a guide to town hall meetings, as well as a list of questions specific to each representative. If you would like to participate or want a copy of either document, please email chapters@NORML.org.

Florida: Lawsuit Filed Challenging Medical Cannabis Smoking Ban

cannabis_pillsRepresentatives of Florida for Care filed litigation today challenging a statewide ban on medical cannabis smoking. The suit was expected after lawmakers approved legislation (SB 8A) in June amending Amendment 2 — a voter initiated constitutional amendment permitting the use and distribution of medical cannabis. Seventy-one percent of voters approved the amendment in November.

Senate Bill 8A amends the definition of medical cannabis in a manner that prohibitsmarijuana in a form for smoking” and that bars the personal possession of herbal cannabis flowers, except in instances where they are contained “in a sealed, tamper-proof receptacle for vaping.” The Florida for Care suit argues that these changes inconsistent with the constitutional definition of marijuana, as passed by voters, and therefore should not be implemented.

The lawsuit argues, “Inhalation is a medically effective and efficient way to deliver tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and other cannabinoids, to the bloodstream. … By redefining the constitutionally defined term ‘medical use’ to exclude smoking, the Legislature substitutes its medical judgment for that of ‘a licensed Florida physician’ and is in direct conflict with the specifically articulated Constitutional process.”

Under the revised law, patients diagnosed with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis — or who suffer from chronic pain related to any of these diseases — are eligible to receive a 70-day supply of cannabis-infused oils or edible products from a limited number of state-licensed dispensing facilities.

NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or prohibit patients’ access to whole-plant cannabis in lieu of cannabis-derived extracts or pills. Cannabis inhalation is not associated with increased instances of lung cancer, COPD, or other tobacco-related adverse effects on pulmonary function. Inhaled cannabis is fast acting and permits patients to accurately self-regulate their dose. By contrast, non-herbal forms of cannabis possess delayed onset and their effects can often be far less predictable than those of herbal cannabis. Many patients seeking rapid relief of symptoms do not benefit from pills, tinctures, or edibles, and such restrictions unnecessarily limit patients’ choices.

If the court invalidates SB 8A, the task of writing the rules for implementing the initiative — which must be operational by October — will fall to the Florida Department of Health.

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.

Las Vegas NORML Ramps up Advocacy Efforts

1294bbf7-8ed0-450d-9f98-5f7fd0090ae4With state lawmakers in Nevada quickly approaching their fast-tracked deadline of July 1st to implement the state’s new adult-use marijuana program, NORML is focused on ramping up our activism efforts in Las Vegas!

Over the past two months, we’ve been busy planning, attending legislative hearings, tabling at events, doing community outreach, volunteering at our local community garden, and more to get the word out about our new chapter, and post-legalization activism in Las Vegas.

So far during the 2017 legislative session, there have been several key pieces of legislation introduced. One of the most important bills that we’re currently pushing is Senator Tick Segerblom’s SB 329, which would safeguard many protections for marijuana patients and the legal marijuana industry. These protections include re-establishing patient grow rights, allowing medical marijuana research facilities, allowing marijuana establishments to be organized as a corporation, and adds PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

Another important piece of legislation that we’re watching closely is SB 236; if adopted by lawmakers, this legislation would permit social use marijuana clubs across Nevada. With the issue of social marijuana consumption quickly becoming a main issue for marijuana advocates in post-legalization states, Las Vegas NORML believes this legislation would be the first step in providing marijuana consumers with a safe and legally defined space to responsibly consume their legally purchased marijuana.

To learn more, join us for our next meeting on Tuesday, May 23rd where we’ll discuss the various pieces of marijuana-related legislation in Nevada! Get involved and invite your friends!

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Creating a Space for Marijuana Activism

We’re at a crucial time in the legislative session, so we need our members and supporters to speak-up for Nevada marijuana consumers by urging their representatives to support marijuana-related legislation. To help facilitate this, Las Vegas NORML has organized a postcard writing party! This will give everyone a chance to share their personal stories and reasons why they support marijuana legislation with their lawmakers.

We also have two guest speakers from Nevada’s marijuana industry that will be joining us: DB Labs and Sahara Wellness. DB Labs will be educating our members on marijuana testing in Nevada, and Sahara Wellness will be sharing their story of helping patients in the community. Plus we’ll have event sign-ups, membership packages, legislative updates, and even FREE SNACKS! Who can say no to that?

Be sure to RSVP using our Facebook Event Page, and invite all of your friends in Las Vegas!

For more information on Las Vegas NORML, please find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or email us at LasVegasNORMLchapter@gmail.com.

Atlanta City Council Considers Decriminalization of Marijuana

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**Update: Peachtree NORML has just informed us that the vote has been postponed. We will keep you posted as developments unfold. 

On Monday, May 15, 2017, the City Council of Atlanta, Georgia will vote on an ordinance that would decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana within Atlanta’s City Limits. Under Georgia law, the possession of one ounce or less is an arrestable offense that could result in up to a $1000 fine and 12 months in jail. This ordinance would allow for the issuance of a citation which carries a $75.00 fine. The ordinance would only apply to the Atlanta Police Department. Other agencies operating within the City, such as the State Patrol and Fulton County Sheriff, would still be able to arrest for the offense.

While it may not seem like much protection, the passage of this ordinance would be a giant step in Georgia. The small town of Clarkston passed a similar ordinance in July 2016. While that stirred up some news, the Capital of Georgia passing it would have a major ripple effect. One mayoral candidate, Vincent Fort, who is a current member of Georgia’s Senate, has made decriminalization the major plank in his campaign platform. It is a hot topic in Georgia.

Peachtree NORML, in association with Georgia C.A.R.E. Project, has begun a City-by- City campaign which is beginning to have some success. By providing fact-based data to municipal governments wishing to consider such measures, we hope to begin reducing the harm caused by an arrest for small amounts of marijuana in Georgia.

If approved by Council, Atlanta will join 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. Kansas City, Houston, Memphis, Nashville, Tampa, Orlando, Milwaukee, Monona, Toledo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and several others have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Sharon Ravert, the Founder of Peachtree NORML is fond of saying, “When we are talking, we are winning.” Hopefully the City of Atlanta will prove her right next Monday.

Contact your council representatives today and urge them to vote “Yes” on a fiscally sensible proposal that will enable police, prosecutors, and the courts to reallocate their existing resources toward activities that will better serve the public.

Click the link below to get started!

TAKE ACTION: http://act.norml.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=20611

For more updates on local reform efforts, follow Peachtree NORML by visiting their website, Facebook and Twitter! To make a donation to Peachtree NORML, please click here.

Denver NORML Promotes Home Cultivation Through Grow Safety Symposium

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On Saturday, April 15th, during what many now refer to as “420 weekend,” Denver NORML is hosting a free educational event that will focus on the many aspects of home cultivation. The event will consist of two parts: a panel discussion with an exciting line up of speakers that will highlight safe and sustainable cultivation practices, and an expo where attendees can visit with representatives from various companies ranging from genetics and nutrients to soil and lighting.

As home cultivation laws in Colorado continue to evolve, we need education more than ever. Therefore, Denver NORML has partnered with some of the best names in the cultivation community. We have scheduled speakers covering the following areas of interest: energy consumption and savings, cultivation, pest control, lighting, genetics, plumbing, electricity and HVAC, home security, waste removal, curing and storage, and compliance. We will also provide an opportunity for medical marijuana patients to learn how to make their own RSO.

Our goal is to create a dialogue and provide as much education as possible. People continue to move to Colorado every single day, simply for the opportunity to legally grow their own marijuana. People arrive with little knowledge, but they’re excited grow so they typically buy a light, put it in a small closet or tent, and then immediately run into issues with ventilation, temperature and pests. The problem that we at Denver NORML kept seeing was the lack of education for those that wish to safely grow in the privacy of their homes.

At the Grow Safety Symposium we plan to educate attendees on how to safely and sustainably grow from beginning to end!

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Reserve your spot today at Grow Safety Symposium  or join the conversation on Facebook where you will find the updated speaker schedule: Grow Safety Symposium.

For more updates on local reform efforts, follow Denver NORML by visiting their website and on Facebook and Twitter!

West Virginia NORML Makes Final Push For Medical Marijuana Legislation

WV NORML[UPDATE: On Thursday, April 5, members of the House and Senate concurred on an amended version of SB 386, which significantly curtails patient protections included in the initial version of the bill. The amended bill now awaits action from Gov. Jim Justice, who is expected to sign it in to law.]

Marijuana advocates in West Virginia are celebrating after the state senate voted to pass a bill that would legalize and regulate the use of medical marijuana in the Mountain State. After surviving two committee assignments, and being amended to allow home cultivation by registered patients, Senate Bill 386, sponsored by Senator Richard Ojeda, passed out of the full Senate by a considerable margin of 28-6.

West Virginia has a medical marijuana bill that is close to becoming law. Senate Bill 386 was introduced early in the session and surprisingly made its way through both of its assigned committees with very little opposition,” said David Dawson, Legal Counsel for West Virginia NORML. “SB 386  passed the Senate with huge support, 28-6, and is now on its second reading in the House of Delegates.”

In the weeks leading up to the Senate vote on SB 386, Jesse Johnson, executive director of West Virginia NORML, along Rusty Williams, West Virginia NORML board member, worked diligently to build a broad coalition of volunteer advocates to lobby state lawmakers in support of the bill. From regularly calling legislative offices and writing their representatives, to meeting face to face with lawmakers, it’s safe to say SB 386 would not be where it is today if not for the efforts of West Virginia NORML.

“These folks have worked their tails off and produced spectacular and unexpected results. The West Virginia legislature has shown what I knew it was capable of, bi-partisan compassion for our fellow West Virginians. The fight still continues as House opposition is seeking to amend the bill to death and put on expert testimony in opposition,” added Dawson.

While there’s certainly a reason to celebrate, SB 386 still faces an uncertain future. With an uphill battle expected in the House of Delegates, members of West Virginia NORML are calling for supporters of SB 386 to join them in a final push to encourage a yes vote from members of the House.

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TAKE ACTION: Contact West Virginia Lawmakers to Urge a YES vote on SB 386

For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in the Mountain State, follow West Virginia NORML by visiting their website and Facebook page!

Michigan NORML: Presidents’ Day Letter To Congress From The Front Lines

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Read the letter here: MI Federal Legislator Letter 2017

By: Matthew Abel
Executive Director
Michigan NORML

Today, on the occasion of President’s Day, and in the spirit of the President’s heralded as “leaders of the free world”, the Michigan Affiliate of NORML participated in a national campaign to contact our members of Congress by mailing them each a letter. This letter is our third in a series of letters in 2017 that has included Vice President Mike Pence and the 109 members of the Michigan House of Representatives. Direct mail is an effective and powerful way to be seen by the Representatives themselves or their Chiefs of Staff and to communicate a message.

First we introduced ourselves and provided information about who we are and what we have done in Michigan. We communicated some concerns and and made some policy suggestions. We specifically asked each of them to support The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, HR 975, and to become members of the newly-formed Cannabis Caucus. We reminded them of the damage caused by prohibition and urge them to change federal law. It is a friendly letter, but very direct and specific.

Sending a letter to 14 out of 435 Representatives may not seem very effective, but when the fourteen members of the Michigan Delegation read our message, and legislators from other states receive and read letters from other NORML state affiliates echoing th e same message, collectively, NORML affiliates will have reached hundreds of Members of Congress with a clear, strong and unified message!

Engaging elected officials is a primary function of NORML and all its affiliates. As the Michigan Affiliate of NORML, we are pleased to participate in this and other NORML nationally-coordinated campaigns that reach out to federal representatives in a collaborative way that reinforces the strength of support for cannabis reforms.

Today we recognize and celebrate the 45 Presidents who have led this great nation. Michigan NORML appreciates what these leaders have done and their significance in history, and it is in that spirit that we ask the fourteen men and women of the Michigan Delegation to take the lead, and help shape the policies that will regulate the emerging cannabis industry.

Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and sign up at www.minorml.org.  

Weekly Legislative Roundup, 1/28/2017

blogstickerWelcome to this week’s edition of the legislative roundup. With prohibitionists fighting nationwide, from Massachusetts to deny the will of the voters with the implementation of legalization to Hawaii where the state is seeking to impose increased monitoring of drivers who may be under the influence of marijuana, NORML is constantly working to fight the rising tide of anti-science legislation cropping up.

On the proactive “Team Rationality” side, NORML chapters are advancing efforts from reducing criminal penalties in Virginia to expanding worker protections for cannabis consumers in Washington state.

Below are the priority bills that we’ve tracked this week, with more being posted on our http://norml.org/act page every day.

If you have not yet, 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,

Justin

 

Arkansas

Legislative efforts are pending to amend the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana law in a manner that would restrict qualified patients from smoking herbal preparations of the plant. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson indicates that he favors the plan.

NORML opposes this effort to fundamentally change the law for the following reasons.

The inhalation of herbal cannabis is associated with the rapid onset of drug effect while the oral consumption of other preparations, such as oils, extracts, or pills, is associated with significantly delayed onset. For patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms, such as those suffering from severe nausea, seizures, or spasms, inhaling herbal cannabis is the fastest and most effective route of administration. Inhaling cannabis also permits patients to better regulate their dose.

Further, the effects of orally ingested cannabis are far less predictable in comparison to inhaled cannabis. This is because there exists far greater variability in the ways that marijuana is metabolized when it is consumed orally — meaning that patients may experience disparate and even dysphoric effects from dose to dose, even in instances where the dose is standardized.

AR Resident? Click here to email your representatives to oppose this effort.

Additionally, SB 130 prohibits individuals from operating a motor vehicle if they have 5 or more nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood. NORML opposes  this proposal.

It should not be presumed that the detection of THC is predictive of psychomotor impairment and such a presumption should not be codified in Arkansas traffic safety statutes. The imposition and enforcement of this measure risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations.

AR Resident? Click here to email your representatives to oppose this effort.

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, SB 548, to legalize the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana for those over the age of 21.

According to 2014 statewide poll, 66 percent of Hawaii voters support the taxation and regulation of marijuana.

HI Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Additionally, Legislation is pending, SB 17, that seeks to establish a per se limit of “five nanograms or more per milliliter of active tetrahydrocannabinol” for anyone driving a motor vehicle.

NORML opposes this proposal.

It should not be presumed that the detection of THC is predictive of psychomotor impairment and such a presumption should not be codified in Hawaii traffic safety statutes. The imposition and enforcement of this measure risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations.

HI Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Massachusetts

On Wednesday, December 28, a handful of lawmakers met in a special session and voted to delay the roll out of retail marijuana providers from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2018. As summarized by The Boston Globe, “The extraordinary move, made in informal sessions with just a half-dozen legislators present, would unravel a significant part of the legalization measure passed by 1.8 million voters just last month.” Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill into law just two days later.

But this was only the beginning.

Now, Senator Jason M. Lewis is proposing bills that would reduce the amount of marijuana that an individual can possess, restrict the number of plants that a person can grow, and ban various forms of THC infused products including edibles.

The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is shocking, and is typified by the comments of Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg who, only hours after the vote, pronounced: “I believe that when voters vote on most ballot questions, they are voting in principle. They are not voting on the fine detail that is contained within the proposal.”

It’s time for you to send another clear message to your lawmakers: Abide by voters’ decision or suffer the consequences.

MA Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Nebraska

State Senator Anna Wishart has introduced comprehensive medical marijuana legislation, LB622.

Senator Wishart’s bill is similar to legislation that was introduced in 2016 and narrowly defeated. LB622 will allow patients with conditions such as Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, opioid addictions and some types of cancer to obtain marijuana. Additionally it would permit patients to grow up to 12 plants and/or possess up to six ounces of cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Last year’s bill was narrowly defeated by lawmakers.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Nebraska patients deserve these same protections.

NE Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

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 representatives to urge them to support this effort.

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

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

Most recently, an exhaustive report released by the National Academies of Sciences determined that there is “conclusive” evidence that cannabis is “effective for the treatment of chronic pain.” Authors concluded, “In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids (constituents found organically in the marijuana plant) are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction of pain symptoms.”

NH Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

New York

Senator Liz Krueger (D) has introduced the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in the New York General Legislature.

The act legalizes possession and cultivation, and would establish a market for legal marijuana for adults 21 and older.

NY Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

North Dakota

Legislation is pending, HB 1340, in the statehouse to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and marijuana-related paraphernalia.

Under existing law, marijuana possession of one ounce or less is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, while the possession of greater amounts are classified as a felony offense punishable by up to five years in prison. Possessing marijuana-related paraphernalia is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

ND Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Virginia

UPDATE: SB1091 has passed the full Senate by a vote of 38-2 and HB 2051 has passed it’s first committee vote in the House of Delegates.

State Senators Adam Ebbin (D), Bill Stanley (R) and Delegate Les Adams (R) have introduced SB 1091 and HB 2051 respectively, legislation that would remove the mandatory driver’s license suspension currently imposed for those with a marijuana possession conviction.

Under current law, any drug conviction, regardless of whether or not a motor vehicle was involved, results in an automatic suspension of the individual’s driving privileges for 6 months.

VA Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Additionally, SB 1298 has cleared the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on a 9-4 vote as it seeks to establish affirmative defense for possession of cannabidiol if an individual has written certification that they require the substance due to an approved medical condition.

Affirmative defense establishes a basic set of facts surrounding cannabidiol possession cases. If someone with a qualifying medical condition is caught possessing marijuana, an affirmative defense for the individual would likely result in a more lenient punishment.

VA Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Washington

UPDATE: HB 1212 has passed committee, making it the first piece of legislation for home cultivation in Washington state history.

Legislation is pending before the House, HB 1094 and HB 1212, to prohibit employers from discriminating against patients who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours.

The bill amends existing law so that: “An employer  may not refuse to hire a qualifying patient, discharge or bar a qualifying patient from employment, or discriminate against a qualifying patient in compensation or in other terms and conditions of employment because of the qualifying patient’s: (i) Status as a qualifying patient; or (ii) Positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites.”

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

WA Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

 

 

Action Works When Action Is Taken

As an American citizen, it is easy to become cynical about citizen participation in democracy.  Even the most basic form of participation, voting, can be difficult in the United States. Unlike most nations, who hold elections on a holiday or have mandatory voting requirements, the US holds elections on Tuesdays. When many people cannot vote, whether for time reasons or restrictive state laws, it is a struggle, for those of us enthused about participating in democracy, to watch less than 60 percent of the electorate turnout for a presidential election. One of the proposed reasons for the problem is a lack of voter efficacy. Voters don’t feel as if their voice is being heard. But stories of voters successfully influencing lawmakers are common, if not always reported.

Recently, House Republicans revealed a plan to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The new body proposed by the GOP would have been a blow to anyone in support of governmental transparency. Unable to report its findings to the public, the proposed Office of Congressional Complaint Review would have even further clouded general understanding of what occurs behind closed doors in the legislative branch. However, congressional offices were subsequently flooded with calls and messages from angry constituents. Less than 24 hours later, the GOP changed course and backpedaled. After tremendous public pressure, the government radically changed its course in a short span of time.

Simply making a phone call, sending an email or Facebook message to a representative, or retweeting a congress member’s phone number (which occurred thousands of times because of the ethics committee plan) can make a difference on the national level. However, many success stories about citizen participation can be found among the lower levels of the federal system. State and local governments are, at least in theory, designed to be more supportive of and responsive to individual citizens. Examples to support this theory is strong. States are known as “laboratories of democracy” and are often ahead of the federal government in terms of cutting edge policy.

One only has to look at success stories like gay marriage or marijuana legislation in several states to see the effect of citizen participation on policy outcomes. We can see with both cases that state policy often follows national public opinion trends. When the tipping point came in regards to gay marriage, it was state judges and lawmakers that first instituted protections for the LGBTQ community. Organizations like Freedom to Marry and the American Civil Liberties Union penned action alerts to their members day after day pleading with them to contact their state representatives. And when the people spoke, politicians listened, and change happened.

Marijuana legislation is following a similar path with organizations including NORML are creating a similar avalanche effect of states legalizing that will ultimately culminate in national legalization if sustained.

To speed up the process one only has to get involved. It is easy to sit back and watch while progress occurs, but it is rewarding to be a part of such a movement. Emailing, calling, and having meetings with your representatives in a constructive way is simple and effective to push change.

If the government is doing something that we as a citizenry do not approve of, we have the right to be heard. Although the mechanisms of government are far from perfect, it our duty as a dedicated and informed public is to try the best we can, in every way we can.

Sign up for our email list to get our action alerts, keep checking the NORML action page for federal legislation and in your home state at http://norml.org/act, talk to your friends and neighbors about getting involved, join a NORML chapter or start your own at http://norml.org/chapters, and never, ever, stop fighting.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup, 1/13/2017

NORML supporters:

Welcome to this week’s edition of the legislative roundup. With a majority of states now full swing into their legislative sessions, over 400 bills nationwide have been submitted that in some way, shape, or form address marijuana policies. Ranging from ending the criminal prohibition of marijuana to tweaking established legal medical marijuana programs in order to better serve patients; clearly, inch by inch, we are winning.

Below are the priority bills that we are tracking so far, with more being posted on our http://norml.org/act page every day.

blogstickerIf you have not yet, 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,

Justin

Federal

– Protecting the sanctity of property rights for those targeted for marijuana related offenses

Legislation is pending before Congress, HR 331, to halt the federal government from taking civil forfeiture action against properties involved in state-sanctioned, medical marijuana-related conduct.

If approved, it would “amend the Controlled Substances Act … to exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by state law.”

In the past, federal officials have sought to close dispensaries by threatening property owners with civil forfeiture proceedings. Under these proceedings, property may be seized if there exist evidence that it was involved in activities that violate federal law, regardless of whether those activities are licit under state law.

Presently, the Justice Department is barred from taking such actions because of the passage of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. However, that protection will expire on April 28, 2017 unless renewed by Congress.

Click here to email your Representative to urge them to support this measure.

– A change in the guard at the head of the US Department of Justice

Alabama Senator Jefferson “Jeff” Sessions began the confirmation process to become the next Attorney General of the United States.

Senator Sessions is a militant opponent of any efforts to reform marijuana policy who once notoriously remarked that the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s. In fact, he was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements like these:

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”

“[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

NORML opposes his confirmation unless he will clarify that he does not intend to use the resources of the United States Justice Department against marijuana consumers and businesses that are operating in accordance with state laws in regards to medicinal or recreational marijuana.

Click here to email your US Senators and urge them to raise this issue or #JustSayNoToSessions

Connecticut

Legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate its commercial commerce is pending now in both the House and Senate.

SB 11 by state Senator Martin Looney (D) and HB 5314 by Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R) have been filed to regulate the personal use and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

A similar legislative effort led by Juan Candelaria (D) and over a dozen co-sponsors, HB 5539, is also pending in the House. The House Speaker has previously acknowledged that he expects these bills to receive full hearings this session, so it is vital that your lawmakers hear consistent support for these measures from voters like you.

CT Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Indiana

A Senate lawmaker has reintroduced legislation, SB 255, to regulate marijuana access to qualified patients.

The measure, sponsored by Democrat Sen. Karen Tallian, establishes a statewide medical marijuana program to permit qualified patients — including patients with arthritis, migraine, PTSD, and seizures — to legally obtain cannabis products and to  engage in cannabis therapy.

IN Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Kentucky

Legislation filed by Senator Perry Clark of Louisville, SB 57, seeks to establish a statewide, comprehensive medical marijuana program.

Senate Bill 57, The Cannabis Compassion Act, establishes regulations overseeing the establishment of state-licensed dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to qualified patients. It also permits patients to home cultivate their own supply of medical cannabis.

Senator Clark said: “Too many Kentuckians have had their lives stymied with criminal records as a result of nonviolent marijuana convictions. That is wrong. It is time to stop making criminals out of citizens due to outdated and ridiculous laws concerning cannabis.”

KY Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Additionally, Legislation has also filed by Senator Perry Clark of Louisville, Senate Bill 76, seeks to legalize the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana for those over the age of 21.

KY Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Maine

Maine Senate President Mike Thibodeau and House Speaker Sara Gideon have struck a deal to introduce emergency resolution LD 88 to impose a moratorium on the enactment of many of the key provisions in Question 1, the voter-initiated Marijuana Legalization Act.

While the resolution maintains the January 30th, 2017 repeal of penalties for personal possession and home cultivation of marijuana, it delays provisions specific to the retail production or sale of marijuana, the social use of marijuana, and the consumption or possession of marijuana-infused products. If passed, this legislation would no longer mandate lawmakers to enact these provisions by January 1, 2018 — as is presently required by law — and opens the door indefinitely maintaining the black market’s monopoly on the marijuana market.

Mainers have lived with the failings of marijuana prohibition for far too long already. Any further delay is unnecessary and is an affront to the will of the majority of Maine voters who passed Question 1 on Election Day.

ME Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Mississippi

Legislation is pending, House Bill 179, to establish a pilot program to provide qualified patients with legal access to medical marijuana products.

Under this program, patients would be permitted to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and/or cannabis-infused products, such as extracts or edibles, from a state-licensed dispensing facility. Regulators must begin accepting initial applications from dispensaries and testing facilities by January 1, 2018.

MS Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

New Hampshire

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

Forthcoming legislation to 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.

In addition, new Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said during his campaign he would support decriminalizing marijuana.

New Hampshire is the only New England state that has not either decriminalized or legalized adult marijuana use.

NH Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

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

NH Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

New Mexico

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 8, to amend the state’s medical cannabis program in a manner that would better serve patients’ needs. A number of basic fixes are included in the legislation, including expanding the amount of cannabis a patient can possess at a time and expedite the processing of medical marijuana state-issued identification cards.

NM Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Additionally, State Representative Bill McCamley has announced intentions to propose legislation to regulate the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana in the state.

”It is either going to happen sooner or it is going to happen later and if it happens sooner we can realize the economic benefits now.” McCamley said.

NM Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

New York

Legislation has been filed for the 2017 legislative session to eliminate the ‘public view’ loophole exception in New York state’s marijuana law. Abuse of this provision has led to hundreds of thousands of needless marijuana arrests in recent years, primarily in New York City, despite the possession of the plant being decriminalized in the state since 1977.

Under current law, private possession of marijuana is punishable by nothing more than a simple citation and fine. By contrast, the possession of small amounts of marijuana in a manner that is “open to public view” is classified as a criminal misdemeanor. This loophole has often been used to continue arresting a disproportionate number of minorities, largely as a result of ‘stop and frisk’ policies. Promises from law enforcement in recent years to correct this abuse have not come to fruition.

NY Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Additionally, legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1087, to expand the state’s medical marijuana law by removing the existing prohibition on herbal cannabis preparations. This is a simple expansion of patient’s rights to access whole plant cannabis for medical purposes.

NY Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Oregon

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

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

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

Portland NORML‘s Legislative Committee, in conjunction with the Oregon Chapter of the Employment Lawyers of America, worked on the drafting and filing of this important legislation.

OR Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Virginia

Legislation has now been introduced in both chambers of the Statehouse to end the practice of suspending drivers licenses for those convicted of marijuana possession. Virginia is one of the few remaining states that implore this archaic policy and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have stepped up to reverse it.

VA Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

Washington

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

Presently, eight states permit adults to obtain marijuana via retail sales. All of these states except Washington also permit adults the option to cultivate cannabis.

NORML believes that criminalizing the personal cultivation of cannabis is an arbitrary prohibition that has absolutely no basis in public safety.

WA Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

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This Legislative Roundup is a weekly update by National NORML, cataloging the movements of legislation nationwide in order to give you, the citizen, a more effective voice in government.

Sign up with your local NORML Chapter at http://norml.org/chapters

Maine: Recount Effort Halted, Question 1 Victory Stands

Maine Yes on 1The group opposing Maine’s marijuana legalization initiative has withdrawn its recount effort.

Last month, representatives from ‘No on 1’ requested a recount of the vote totals specific to Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act. On Saturday, the campaign conceded that the recount would not impact the Election Day result, which estimated Question 1 winning by slightly over 4,000 votes.

The measure is now expected to be enacted 30 days after Gov. Paul LePage affirms the result.

The Act permits adults who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to possess personal use quantities of marijuana (up to two and one-half ounces and/or the total harvest produced by six plants). The measure also establishes regulations for the commercial cultivation and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Regulations governing marijuana-related businesses are scheduled to be in place by August 8, 2017.

Speaking live on WGAN radio last week, Gov. LePage criticized the measure, stating, “If there was ever a bill that the legislature should just kibosh, that’s it.” The Governor further suggested increasing the retail sales tax rates associated with the measure, as well as abolishing the state’s medical cannabis program, which has been in place since 1999.

NORML Releases Updated and Revised 2016 Congressional Scorecard

FBScorecardToday is National Voter Registration Day and we are pleased to present this valuable voter education tool to the marijuana movement: NORML’s updated and revised 2016 Congressional Scorecard. The Scorecard is an all-encompassing database that assigns a letter grade of ‘A’ (the highest grade possible) to ‘F’ (the lowest grade possible) to members of Congress based on their comments and voting records on matters specific to marijuana policy.

KEY FINDINGS

Of the 535 members of the 114th Congress:

  • 330 members (62%) received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (270 Representatives and 60 Senators)
  • Of these, 22 members (4%) received a grade of ‘A’ (20 Representatives and 2 Senators)
  • 254 members (47%) received a ‘B’ grade (218 Representatives and 36 Senators)
  • 54 members (10%) received a ‘C’ grade (32 Representatives and 22 Senators)
  • 172 members (32%) received a ‘D’ grade (149 Representatives and 23 Senators)
  • 32 members (6%) received a failing grade (16 Representatives and 16 Senators)
  • 60 Senators (60%) received a passing grade of a C or higher (Two A’s, 36 B’s, and 22 C’s)
  • 270 Representatives (62%) received a passing grade of a C or higher (20 A’s, 218 B’s, and 32 C’s)
  • Of the 233 Democrats in Congress, 215 (92%) received a passing grade of a ‘C’ or higher
  • Of the 302 Republicans in Congress, 113 members (37%) received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher

This analysis affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are well ahead of many of their federally elected officials. While the majority of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only four percent of Congressional members voice support for this position. Approximately half (51%) of federal lawmakers favor liberalizing medical cannabis policies. However, this percentage remains far below the level of support frequently expressed by voters in state and national polls.

Also evident is that Congressional support for marijuana law reform is largely a partisan issue. While more than nine out of ten Democrats express support for some level of reform, just over one-third of Republicans hold similar positions. This partisanship lies in contrast to voters’ sentiments, which tend to view the subject as a non-partisan issue. For example, recent polls from swing states show that super-majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents endorse medical marijuana legalization. Further, most Republican voters embrace principles of federalism with regard to cannabis policy. Nonetheless, Republican support for this position remains marginal among members of Congress.

HOW NORML’S CONGRESSIONAL SCORECARD IS CALCULATED

  • An ‘A’ letter grade indicates that this member has publicly declared his/her support for the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults.
  • A ‘B’ letter grade indicates that this member supports policies specific to the legalization of medical cannabis and/or the decriminalization of cannabis.
  • A ‘C’ letter grade indicates that this member has publicly declared his/her support for the ability of a state to move forward with cannabis law reform policies free from federal interference.
  • A ‘D’ letter grade indicates that this member has expressed no support for any significant marijuana law reform
  • An ‘F’ letter grade indicates that this member expresses significant and vocal opposition to marijuana law reform

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To find NORML’s grade for a specific member of Congress, please click here for the Senate scorecard and click here for the House scorecard. NORML’s full 2016 Congressional Scorecard and Executive Summary is available online here.

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