Weekly Legislative Update 6/10/17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Actions to Take

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Social Consumption of Marijuana off to a Slow Start in Colorado

14963351_1825384024368232_2740677872685265191_nCurrently marijuana is legal to purchase, possess and consume in the state of Colorado, but the question is: Where can it be legally consumed? Well, if you happen to be in the city of Denver (or most anywhere else in Colorado) the answer is very simple: marijuana can only be legally consumed in a private residence. But what if your landlord won’t allow it or you are one of the thousands of tourists who regularly visits our great city? It appears that we’ll have to continue to wait for state lawmakers to answer that question.

Denver Moves Forward with Social Consumption

Last November, Denver voters passed I-300; a social use initiative that approved the commingling of marijuana and alcohol in bars and restaurants across Denver. Obviously a much different approach when compared to Denver NORML’s Responsible Use Campaign and something the State of Colorado disagreed with. In response, the State of Colorado adopted language making it clear that liquor licenses would not be allowed to permit the consumption of marijuana on their premises. According to the Denver Post, this change went into effect on January 1st of this year and vastly changed the intent of I-300.

“We all want adult consumption everywhere, but this is reality,” said Judd Golden, Legal Counsel for Denver NORML. The news of removing language that allowed the commingling of alcohol and marijuana frustrated proponents of I-300 so a lawsuit was filed against the State of Colorado to push the issue.

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Kevin Mahmalji, outreach director for NORML shared his thoughts on combining the two substances. “As it currently stands, we can easily make the argument that marijuana is safer than alcohol, because the two are separated. If we allow the two to be mixed, any incident fueled by alcohol could potentially be blamed on marijuana. That’s why I believe responsible adults deserve their own space to consume marijuana similar to those who enjoy craft beer or cigars.”

In addition to the state’s decision to prevent the commingling of marijuana and alcohol, the City of Denver created the Social Consumption Advisory Committee that consisted of 22 influential decision makers – ranging from city officials to marijuana business owners – to go over the language line by line. The group met six times over several months and offered countless suggestions to improve the original language of I-300. Including a recommendation that would require patrons to sign a waiver before entering consumption areas. Essentially providing a layer of protections against unwanted exposure by non-consumers and those under 21 years of age. A recommendation that Denver NORML fully supports.

The 12 page document lists pages and pages of suggestions to make the law work effectively for the city of Denver. Last week the draft rules were finally posted.

Push for Social Consumption Statewide: SB-184

In addition to our work on the local level, members of Denver NORML spent a lot of time at the state Capitol educating lawmakers on social consumption and the need for a legislative solution. The result? SB-184, which would have empowered local governments to permit private marijuana clubs and better defined what “open and public” means to marijuana consumers. Once the bill was introduced, Denver NORML organized two citizen lobby days with more than 45 participants followed by months of face to face meetings with state lawmakers in support of a statewide solution.

Unfortunately during the final weeks of Colorado’s legislative session, many things with the bill began to change. Most notably, the bill’s sponsors tried to include language that would have criminalized marijuana consumption on the front porch of a private residence and aimed to exclude a newly established cannabis church from operating as a marijuana club. Thankfully the Senate and the House could not come to a consensus and the bill died in committee on the last day of the 2017 legislative session.

Until state lawmakers are willing to pass legislation that will provide a set of rules and protections for business owners and marijuana consumers to responsibly consume marijuana, Colorado municipalities will continue to struggle with this issue.

With the Denver’s Social Consumption Advisory Committee wrapping up its final meeting and Colorado’s legislative session coming to an end, there are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the social consumption of marijuana in Colorado.

Denver NORML will apply the lessons learned this year and with their allies, continue to push for statewide reform in the next legislative session.

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

Weekly Legislative Update 5/6/17

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

The biggest story this week in the marijuana world was the inclusion of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer language (Section 537) in the omnibus spending package to prevent the Department of Justice from interfering with lawful state-regulated medical marijuana consumers and businesses.

In a signing statement by President Trump, expressed that he “will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed” when it comes to Section 537. The lack of clarity is disturbing and casts doubt on whether his administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions will honor the enforcement restrictions. In the past, the courts have upheld this tactic of Congress legislating through the appropriations process, however it will ultimately take a bill to end this tension between the federal and state laws, not just temporary spending riders.

Marijuana Big Talks Speaker Lineup FINAL 5.3 copyAlso this week, Representative Jared Polis held an event in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building solely focused on marijuana policy. Speakers included Boulder County D.A. Stan Garnett and former Colorado NORML Executive Director Rachel Gillette.

For the whole morning, the halls of Rayburn echoed with the words of cannabis reformers declaring the need for sensible policies on marijuana ranging from the need for 280E tax reform to an end to the delusional thought that a southern boarder wall will stop the drug trade.

At the state level, this has been a very active week for marijuana reformers as additional states near the end of their legislative calendars. Progress has been made from Texas moving forward to establish a medical marijuana program to Vermont inching closer towards outright legalization. Yet with the end of the Florida legislative session, the House and Senate were unable to come to a compromise as how to implement Amendment 2 and now the rule making process will be left up to the Florida Department of Health.

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

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

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Alerts

Federal

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

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

New Hampshire

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

HB 640, 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.

Update: Governor Chris Sununu has reiterated his support for decriminalizing marijuana.

NH resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers telling them to act on decriminalization this year. 

Texas

Legislation to authorize the possession, production, and distribution of medical marijuana and marijuana-infused products to qualified patients. Patients would receive cannabis through a network of private dispensaries and operators, similar to pharmacies, regulated under “strict guidelines” by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Update: HB 2107 had a hearing on May 2 and after powerful targeted testimony, the number of cosponsors for the bill jumped from 5 to 75. Later in the week, the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Health approved HR 2107 on May 5 by a vote of 7-2. The bill will now be considered by the Calendars Committee to determine the date of the full House vote.

TX resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and tell them to support the bill. 

Vermont

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

Update: The Senate has passed on May 5 an unrelated bill (S. 22) to include the provisions of H. 170. It maintains House approved language eliminating penalties for the possession and cultivation of personal use amounts of marijuana by July 2018, but also creates a new Marijuana Regulation Commission, to draft legislation by November 1, 2017 that “establishes a comprehensive regulatory and revenue system for an adult-use marijuana market that, when compared to the current illegal marijuana market, increases public safety and reduces harm to public health.” The commission’s bill would be ready for a vote by January 2018.

VT resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and urge them to take swift action to pass the bill. 

Additional Actions to Take

Colorado

State officials in Colorado are considering legislation, SB 192, to protect the state’s adult use marijuana industry in case of a potential federal crackdown.

The bill would permit adult use growers and sellers to instantly reclassify their recreational marijuana inventory as medical marijuana “based on a business need due to a change in local, state, or federal law or enforcement policy.” In recent weeks, officials from the Trump administration have indicated that they may consider taking action against recreational marijuana providers, but that they will not likely move against state-licensed medical marijuana providers.

Update: House members approved SB 192 on May 3 by a vote of 58 to 5. Because of House amendments, the bill returns to the Senate, which must either re-approve the measure or seek reconciliation.

CO resident? Click here to contact your elected officials in support of this effort.

Louisiana

SB 35, introduced by Sen. Yvonne Colomb, provides explicit exemptions from arrest and prosecution for persons lawfully in possession of medical marijuana.

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

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

Update: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted without opposition to move SB 35 to the Senate floor.

LA resident? Click here to contact your elected officials in support of this effort.

Maine

Legislation is pending to expedite the retail sale of marijuana products to those over the age of 21.

LD 1448 and LD 1491 would permit licensed medical cannabis dispensaries the opportunity to “sell limited marijuana retail products to a person who is 21 years of age or older.”

A majority of voters in November approved an initiated measure to permit the possession, production, and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products. However, emergency legislation signed into law in January delays the implementation of regulations overseeing the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana until at least February 1, 2018.

Passage of these measures would allow dispensaries to engage in marijuana sales ahead of this date.

ME resident? Click here to contact your elected officials in support of this effort.

New Hampshire

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

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

Update: Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on May 4 passed HB 160 out of Committee.

NH resident? Click here to contact your elected officials in support of this effort.

New York

Legislation is moving forward, A. 7006, to allow patients with post-traumatic stress eligible for medical cannabis therapy.

New York is one of the only states with a medical marijuana program that does not allow patients with PTSD access to medical cannabis.

Update: The New York Assembly passed A 7006 on May 2. The bill now awaits action by the Senate. Governor Andrew Cuomo says that he is open to expanding the state’s medical cannabis program to include patients with PTSD.

NY resident? Click here to urge your lawmakers to support this effort.

Vermont

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

Update: Members of the House gave preliminary approval SB 16 on May 1. Once a final vote is recorded, the measure will be transmitted to the Governor’s office.

VT resident? Click here to urge the Governor to sign SB 16.

Weekly Legislative Update 4/29/17

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

At the federal level, it is important to highlight two key developments pertaining to established marijuana consumers, businesses, and regulatory structures.

First, the protections for lawful medical marijuana patients and businesses from the Department of Justice provided by the Rohrabacher-Farr budget amendment was temporarily expended through May 5th and we are working of ensuring that that will be a part of any budget deal for the rest of the fiscal year. In the last week alone, NORML members sent over 24,000 messages to members of Congress and we plan to keep the pressure up. If you have not already, click here to send a message to your elected lawmakers. 

Second, on April 27, Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE Banking Act), to provide access to banking services to end the practice of marijuana businesses being forced to pay their employees, rent, taxes, and other associated costs in cash. At the end of the day, no industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions.

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

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

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Alerts

Federal
Protect Patients: Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, maintains that federal funds can not be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

On April 28, Congress re-authorized the amendment as part of a one week spending package, House Resolution 99. This bill extends federal funding through May 5 2017, at which time the measure — and the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment — will expire.

Click here to message your members of Congress to protect state medical marijuana and their patients. 

Banking Access: A bipartisan coalition of more than two dozen co-sponsors have introduced legislation in Congress, The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE Banking Act), HR 2215, to allow state-licensed marijuana-related businesses to engage freely in relationships with banks and other financial institutions.

If enacted, banks would no longer face the threat of federal sanction for working with marijuana-related businesses and entrepreneurs.

Click here to send a message to your member of Congress to support access to banking for state-compliant marijuana businesses.

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

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

New Hampshire
After nearly a decade of frustration, 2017 was looking like it would finally be the year that New Hampshire voters successfully see marijuana possession decriminalized. Yet, stagnation has descended upon the state Senate and now State Sen. Bradley is pushing for an amendment that would remove the decriminalization paragraph (and thus the whole point) from the bill.

NH resident?  Click here to send a message to your state Senators and tell them to quit stalling and decriminalize marijuana now. 

Florida

On November 8th, more than 71 percent of Florida voters decided in favor of the constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, to allow for the licensed production, use, and dispensing of medical cannabis to patients with a doctor’s recommendation. However, state politicians are contemplating legislative efforts to amend the law in a manner that violates both its spirit and intent.

Update: Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee approved SB 406 on April 25.

FL resident? Send a message to your lawmakers telling them not to guy Amendment 2. 

Pennsylvania 
Under current law, possession of up to 30 grams is third-degree misdemeanor that carries up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and a driver’s license suspension if convicted by a plea or trial.

House Bill 928 amends state law so that first and second marijuana possession offenses (up to 30 grams) are reduced from misdemeanor offenses to a summary offense, punishable by a fine only, and had a hearing earlier this week.

PA resident? Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers telling them it is time to decriminalize marijuana. 

Texas
HB 2107, which authorizes the possession, production, and distribution of medical marijuana and marijuana-infused products to qualified patients. Patients would receive cannabis through a network of private dispensaries and operators, similar to pharmacies, regulated under “strict guidelines” by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

A hearing is scheduled for this week on May 2.

TX resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers now to support patients and medical marijuana in Texas. 

Other Actions to Take

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

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

CA resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of this bill.

Colorado
Legislation is pending to prohibit public employees from assisting federal agents in “arresting a Colorado citizen for committing an act that is a Colorado constitutional right.” Such acts would include the production and sale of marijuana.

Update: Members of the House voted 56 to 7 on April 26 in favor of the bill. It now awaits action from the Senate.

CO resident? Click here to send a message to your state Senator to support this effort.

Also, Legislation to make patients with post-traumatic stress eligible for medical cannabis therapy awaits action from Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Members of the House approved the bill by a vote of 39 to 25. Senate members approved it by a vote of 32 to 2.

CO resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor is support of this effort.

Iowa
In a last minute deal by Iowa state lawmakers, both chambers passed an amended version of HF 524 on the final day of the legislative session. The measure expands the state’s existing CBD exemption law, which was set to sunset this year, and expands it. Specifically, HF 524 permits patients with various qualifying conditions, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, AIDS and HIV, Crohn’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, to possess CBD with up to 3% THC. The bill also seeks to establish regulations for the manufacturing and dispensing of CBD products within the state. The bill now goes to Governor Terry Branstad (R) for his signature or veto.

IA resident? Click here to send a message to Gov. Branstad to sign HF 524. 

Vermont
Legislation is pending, H.170, to eliminate civil and criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults, yet by a vote of 21-9, senators amended H 170 to include a full-scale system of taxed and regulated cannabis sales.

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

Additionally, legislation is pending, SB 16, to expand the pool of patients eligible for cannabis therapy.

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

Update: Members of the House Human Services Committee voted 10-0 in favor of SB 16 on April 27.

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

Washington
House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, SB 5131, to expand medical cannabis access. The measure now awaits action from Gov. Jay Inslee.

Senate Bill 5131 permits qualified patients and/or caregivers ages 18 and older to purchase immature cannabis plants, seeds, or clones from state-licensed dispensaries. Marijuana cooperatives may also purchase seeds from a licensed marijuana producer.

WA resident? Click here to send a message to Gov. Inslee in support of SB 5131.

 

 

Weekly Legislative Update 4/22/17

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

What a week it has been! With our 4/20 Online Day of Action, we have blown past the goals we had set and have now driven over 35,000 messages to Congress on HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017. If you have not yet, do so RIGHT NOW by clicking here. 

This last week, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (D) signed into law the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act — a state-sponsored program that will permit qualified patients to obtain medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries. With the addition of WV, the United States will soon have 30 medical marijuana programs throughout the country.

With the current Federal budget set to expire at the end of next week, it is imperative that Congress reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which protects those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. Send a message to your members of Congress now to protect patients.

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

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

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Alerts

Federal
Protect Patients: Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, maintains that federal funds can not be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

In December, Congress re-authorized the amendment as part of a short term spending package, House Resolution 2028. This bill extends federal funding through April 28, 2017, at which time the measure — and the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment — will expire.

Click here to message your members of Congress to protect state medical marijuana and their patients. 

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

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

Florida
On November 8th, more than 71 percent of Florida voters decided in favor of the constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, to allow for the licensed production, use, and dispensing of medical cannabis to patients with a doctor’s recommendation. However, state politicians are contemplating legislative efforts to amend the law in a manner that violates both its spirit and intent.

FL resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials and demand that they support medical marijuana in Florida

Iowa (at Governor)
In a last minute deal by Iowa state lawmakers, both chambers passed HF 524, which would expand the narrow access of CBD with up to 3% THC to patients who have been diagnosed by an Iowa-licensed physician with Parkinson’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, AIDS and HIV, Crohn’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, as well as most terminal illnesses that have a life expectancy of less than one year and untreatable pain. The bill also sets up a framework for in-state production of the medicine. The bill now goes to Governor Terry Branstad (R) for his signature or veto.

IA resident? Click here to send a message to Gov. Branstad and urge him to sign HF 524

Texas
HB 2200, will provide an affirmative defense regarding medical cannabis that would protect patients, caregivers, and doctors, will be heard on April 24.

Affirmative defense establishes a basic set of facts surrounding marijuana 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.

TX resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials to support this common sense reform.

Vermont
Members of the Senate voted 21 to 9 on April 21 in favor of an unrelated House bill, H. 167, which Senators had amended to include language to legalize the recreational marijuana market. Other Senate amendments in the bill mimic language in H. 170, which eliminates criminal and civil penalties specific to the possession or cultivation of personal use quantities of cannabis. The amended version of H. 167 now returns to the House for further action.

VT resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and support legalizing marijuana in Vermont.

Other Actions to Take

Arizona
Legislation is pending, SB 1337, to permit for the licensed production of industrial hemp.

Update: Members of the House Standing Committee and the House Appropriations Committee both passed SB 1337 by votes of 7 to 1 and 12 to 1 respectively.

AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support hemp in Arizona.

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

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

Update: AB 1578 was passed by members of the Public Safety Committee on April 18 by a vote of 5-2.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort. 

Louisiana
SB 35, introduced by Sen. Yvonne Colomb, provides explicit exemptions from arrest and prosecution for persons lawfully in possession of medical marijuana.

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

LA resident? Click here to support this common sense legislation. 

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

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

Update: SB 236 was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 4/12 and it passed as amended.

NV resident? Click here to support marijuana social clubs in Nevada. 

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

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

Update: Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 20 passed HB 157 out of Committee.

NH resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers to support patients. 

Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/15/2017

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

First off – Happy Tax Day! (If you’re into that sort of thing)

As we approach 4/20, a number of bills at the state level have seen significant movement, both good and ugly for progress.

First, the downers: In Tennessee, the state legislature passed and the Governor signed a bill preventing cities within the state from decriminalizing marijuana. Apparently, the status quo of arresting people and sentencing otherwise law-abiding citizens to jail time is a good use of state resources. In TN, a simple possession charge can result in a #250 fine and up to one year in prison. Read more about the state laws here. Additionally, a special tax on medical marijuana is now at the Governor’s desk in Arkansas.

On more positive notes: we have seen progress in a number of states with bills now before the the Governors of Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, and soon-to-be Indiana. Read about it below in the priority alerts section.

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

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

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Alerts

Federal

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

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

Florida
On November 8th, more than 71 percent of Florida voters decided in favor of the constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, to allow for the licensed production, use, and dispensing of medical cannabis to patients with a doctor’s recommendation. However, state politicians are contemplating legislative efforts to amend the law in a manner that violates both its spirit and intent.

House Bill 1397 and Senate Bill 406 have both been introduced to initially cap the number of available providers and dispensers, yet there are distinct differences between the two.

Although neither of these bills truly satisfies the true intent of Amendment 2, Florida NORML contends that Senate Bill 406 is preferable to the House bill. With amendments to both bills expected, we urge Floridians to support the Senate implementation bill and to continue to advocate for further amendments to expand patients’ access.

FL resident? Click here to contact your elected officials telling them to protect Amendment 2

Georgia – (At Governor)
SB 16, a bill to expand Georgia’s CBD-exemption law is awaiting action from Gov. Nathan Deal.

The bill expands the qualifying pool of patients eligible to possess CBD extracts to include those with autism, epidermolysis bullosa, AIDS, Tourette’s Syndrome, and peripheral neuropathy. The bill also permits the possess of CBD-dominant oil to be used by anyone under hospice care.

GA resident? Click here to tell Gov. Deal to sign this bill. 

Hawaii – (At Governor)
Legislation to expand Hawaii’s medical cannabis program has passed both legislative chambers.

The bill, HB 1488, has passed both the House and Senate. Senate changes to the bill must now be approved by members of the House before it can be sent to the Governor.

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

HI resident? Click here to tell the Governor to sign the bill. 

Indiana – (At Governor)
House and Senate lawmakers have approved separate versions of legislation (House Bill 1148 and Senate Bill 15) to exempt criminal penalties for the possession of CBD extracts by qualified patients.

Both bills seek to exempt penalties for the use of CBD extracts by patients with treatment resistant epilepsy. The bills differ regarding whether or not the state ought to establish a patient registry and with regard to the percentage of CBD that must be present in order for the substance to qualify as exempt under state law.

IN resident? Click here and email the Governor to sign the bill when it reaches their desk. 

Iowa
Senate Study Bill 1190, labeled The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act, was approved Wednesday morning, April 12 on a 3-0 subcommittee vote and it cleared Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday afternoon. Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, said the bill could be approved by the full Senate as early as Monday, which would send the measure to the House for consideration.

IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers to support the Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act

Maryland – (At Governor)
Senate Bill 949 permit those who received a criminal marijuana possession conviction prior to October 1, 2014, to seek expungement of their records.

Maryland law was amended on that date so that the possession of up to ten grams of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense.

The Senate has passed enrolled SB 949 which means the bill was adopted with the House amendments. SB 949 has now been sent to the governor for approval.

MD resident? Click here to send a message to Gov. Hogan to sign the bill. 

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

HB 640, 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, yet the Senate has yet to take a vote.

NH resident? Click here to contact your lawmakers now and demand a vote. 

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

Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 13 passed both HB 157 and HB 160 out of Committee.

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

NH resident? Click here to contact you lawmakers to support these efforts. 

North Dakota – (At Governor)
Members of the House and Senate have reconciled SB 2344. The measure now awaits action from Gov. Doug Burgum, who intends to sign it into law. The measure allows only two state-licensed manufacturing facilities and up to eight dispensaries statewide (These facilities are anticipated to be operational within 12 to 18 months after law’s passage). It removes provisions in Measure 5 permitting patients who do not reside near a dispensary to cultivate their own cannabis. Amendments that sought to prohibit smoking herbal formulations of cannabis were not included in the final version of SB 2344, although qualified patients under the age of 19 will now be mandated only to consume cannabis in ways other than smoking.

ND resident? Send a message to the Governor expressing your disapproval of the stripping of home grow rights for patients.

Oregon – (At Governor)
SB 863, to limit the federal government from acquiring data regarding adults and patients who legally purchase marijuana under state law.

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

Members of the House on 4/10 voted 53 to 5 in favor of SB 863. The measure now awaits action from Gov. Kate Brown.

OR resident? Email Governor Brown now to sign this legislation right away.

West Virginia – (At Governor)
A coalition of Senate lawmakers have introduced legislation, SB 386, which seeks to establish the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act — a state-sponsored program that will permit qualified patients to obtain medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries.

The House and Senate concurred on an amended version of SB 386 on April 6. A summary of the amended bill is online here. The measure now goes to the Governor, who indicates that he intends to sign it.

WV resident? Email the Governor expressing support for this bill 

Other Actions to Take

Arkansas  – (At Governor)
House Bill 1580 imposes a special eight percent statewide tax upon medical marijuana sales. This tax would be in addition to the imposition of existing state and local taxes.While NORML generally does not oppose the imposition of fair and reasonable sales taxes on the commercial sales of cannabis for recreational purposes, we do not support such excessive taxation on medical sales. Most other states that regulate medical cannabis sales do not impose such taxes and Arkansas patients should not be forced to pay these excessive costs.AR resident? Click here to email the Governor urging a veto

Colorado
State officials in Colorado are considering legislation, SB 192, to protect the state’s adult use marijuana industry in case of a potential federal crackdown.

The bill would permit adult use growers and sellers to instantly reclassify their recreational marijuana inventory as medical marijuana “based on a business need due to a change in local, state, or federal law or enforcement policy.” In recent weeks, officials from the Trump administration have indicated that they may consider taking action against recreational marijuana providers, but that they will not likely move against state-licensed medical marijuana providers.

Update: SB 192 passed the Senate on April 12 and now awaits action from the House.

CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers to in support of this legislation. 

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

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

Update: The House Committee on Human Services held another hearing for H 170 on Tuesday 4/11 yet still have not taken a vote.

VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers and demand a vote. 

Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/08/17

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

First off –  HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO KC NORML! If you didn’t already hear, on Tuesday the voters of Kansas City passed Question 5 to decriminalize possession of marijuana by over 70%. You can read more by clicking here.

Another bright spot to follow right now is the City of Atlanta, which is considering decriminalizing marijuana by reducing the fine to just $75 and eliminating the potential for jail time. You can read more about it from PeachTree NORML and support their efforts.

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

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

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Bills

Federal
Veterans: Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), along with five co-sponsors, has reintroduced H.R. 1820, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which expands medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans.

Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of H.R. 1820 lifts this prohibition.

Last year, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote. Lawmakers must stop playing politics with veterans’ health and pass H.R. 1820.

Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Posttraumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.

Click here to email your member of Congress and urge them to support HR 1820.

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

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

New Hampshire
HB 640, 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.

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.

Update: HB 640 has a hearing scheduled for 4/11.

NH Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

North Carolina
Comprehensive legislation to legalize patients use of and access to medical marijuana has been filed by Representatives Kelly M. Alexander, Jr., Becky Carney, Pricey Harrison, and Rodney Moore. Co-sponsors include Representatives John Autry, John Ager, Mary Belk, Deb Butler, Carla Cunningham, Susan C. Fisher, Edward Hanes, Jr., Yvonne Lewis Holley, Howard J. Hunter, III, Philip Lehman, and Brian Turner.

HB 185, the North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act, permits qualified patients to possess up to 24 ounces of cannabis or grow their own personal supply. Separate provisions in the Act license and regulate the dispensing of cannabis from state-licensed facilities.

Update: A Senate version of the bill has been introduced, SB 579, by Senators Senators Joel Ford and Erica Smith-Ingram on April 3 and identical bill, SB 648, by Senators Terry Van Duyn and Valerie Foushee on April 4.

NC Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

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

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

Update: SB 2344 cleared a House committee on April 3 with additional changes including the removal of the prohibition of herbal cannabis and a reduction of the annual patient application fee from $200 to $50. The bill will now go to a vote in the full House and requires a 2/3rds majority due to the fact that it changes a voter-passed initative. If passed in the House, the two versions of the bill will have to go through reconciliation.

ND Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to oppose this legislation.

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

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

According to the ACLU, Texas arrests over 70,000 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses — the second highest total in the nation, at the cost of over 250 million dollars per year.

Update: HB 81 cleared committee on a 4-2 bipartisan vote April 3 and now goes to the Calendars Committee in hopes of being scheduled for a floor vote. The Chair of the Calendars Committee is Rep. Todd Hunter, who voted for HB 81 when it was before the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee this session. We hope that this will have a positive bearing on the rest of the Calendars Committee.

TX Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

Update: SB 386 passed the House with an amendment by Delegate John Shott, (R-Mercer) that would prohibit herbal marijuana, ban home grown, and charge $50,000 annual fees for growers and processors. The House and Senate concurred on an amended version of SB 386 on April 6. The measure now goes to the Governor, who indicates that he intends to sign it.

WV Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

Other Actions to Take

Federal
Legislation Pending To Cease Penalizing State-Compliant Marijuana Businesses Under the Federal Tax Code

The Small Business Tax Equity Act (SB 777 and HB 1810) is pending in the House and Senate to amend the federal tax code so that state-licensed, marijuana-related businesses are no longer unduly penalized by federal laws. NORML supports these legislative efforts.

Click here to email your members of Congress to support this legislation.

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

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

Update: SB 236 was a heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee for 4/3.

NV Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

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

Update: The House Committee on Human Services held a hearing Tuesday 4/4 on H 170.

VT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

Houston Has Decriminalized Marijuana, Reveals Conflicting Attitudes and Budget Priorities of Law Enforcement

Cannabis PenaltiesOn March 1, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg decriminalized marijuana by instituting the new Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program. This decision in Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, affects more than 4.5 million Texans. As a result, possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana is now punishable by up to $150, required attendance of a “decision making” class, and no criminal record.

With so many Sheriffs Associations and prosecutors traditionally advocate for maintaining marijuana prohibition, even lobbying our legislators with our tax dollars in order to cash in on asset forfeitures, what happened in Harris County marks a real tipping point for ending prohibition in the state of Texas and reveals a growing organization within law enforcement that wants to correct currently ineffective marijuana policy by deprioritizing arrests for simple possession.

Harris County courts and jails were long overwhelmed by arrests and prosecutions for small marijuana possessions. According to internal data provided from the Harris County District Attorney’s office, the cost of enforcing marijuana prohibition in Harris County tax dollars prior to decriminalization (including court fees, indigent defense, DA fees, jail costs, crime labs and labor costs from local police) were estimated at $26,663,800 annually.

To put that amount of money into perspective, that’s more than enough money for the city of Houston to build a new high school or a 17-bed medical facility every year. Another way to look at it is that these freed up resources can now give prosecutors and police the ability and time required to test the backlog of rape kit evidence and investigate unsolved violent crimes in Harris County. What a concept! Instead of confiscating assets and ruining the lives of nonviolent citizens, we can prosecute the violent criminals that law enforcement are sworn to protect us from.

These estimates don’t include the tax dollars or collateral damage that marijuana prohibition on families including separation from loved ones, lost income from jailed parents or the emotional toll time spent in state custody can have on children. Even for Harris County, these remain real threats under state and federal law.

But after Ogg’s March 1st decision in Harris County, something changed. It was a change that could be felt in the halls of the Texas state capitol. During the Committee hearing on HB81 to decriminalize marijuana in Texas on March 13th, unlike any previous marijuana bill, not a single Sheriff’s Association came to testify against the bill; just one lonely prosecutor from Odessa. By contrast, the halls of the Texas State Capitol filled with members of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, friendly state Congressman like Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) and Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), Executive Director Jax Finkle of Texas NORML, and Heather Fazio of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy all lobbying on our behalf to get HB 81 and SB 170 into committee.

However, as Bob Sechler from the Austin American Statesman recently reported, “Still, some law enforcement representatives are dubious, saying among other things that low-volume pot possession can provide police with probable cause to investigate bigger crimes, and that there currently isn’t a good, on-the-spot test to determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana.”

The other argument made by Lawrence, that “low-volume pot possession can provide police with probable cause to investigate bigger crimes,” is evidence of a different addiction: an addiction distinct to law enforcement for asset forfeitures. When an informant remains planted on a suspect for decades after a plethora of evidence to close the case, or when law enforcement stops only the cars going south with cash and not the ones going north with drugs, we have what can only be described as an asset forfeiture epidemic lead by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Lawrence doesn’t even take into consideration if the detection of marijuana is either a violent or dangerous threat to roadway safety, admitting his worry is he can’t determine if someone is impaired. (Hint: a good indication the driver is not impaired). By that logic, Lawrence implies he is satisfied with the casualties, tax expenses and arrests of nonviolent citizens whose only offense is possession of marijuana, so long as a portion of those arrested lead to “serious” crimes (or asset forfeitures). This erroneous argument is so preposterous he doesn’t appear to realize he is admitting that encountering someone who has consumed marijuana is relatively safe.

So let’s look at the financial motivations of law enforcement that remain loyal to marijuana prohibition. On the other side of Texas from Harris County, on the I-10 corridor near El Paso, federal grants used to be the major motivator for marijuana possession arrests by a self-proclaimed “Boss Hog” in Hudspeth County, where to fill a federal quota the Sheriff infamously arrested Willie Nelson and even Snoop Dog on road tours for possession. Those funds were more bureaucratic in that the grants kept the Sheriff and private jail facilities employed, but the profit motives were parasitic. The Obama administration tried to do away with private prison contracts but Trump and Sessions are bringing them back.

But what about those civil asset forfeitures? Sheriff’s Associations or prosecutors using our tax dollars to lobby for asset forfeitures are more sinister in that not all the money seized gets accurately reported, and since property and money are seized without due process, victims find it difficult and expensive to go to court dockets titled “The State of Texas vs. $10,000,” only to find in some instances a prosecutor instead of a judge in court.

However, looking at the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture Program Annual report for 2012, the local money being reported as seized just doesn’t add up to the cost of incarcerating so many non-violent people in possession of marijuana. Harris County reported: $1,387,430 in seized assets, more than most other Texas counties. But we would have to add up the entire state total of $31,520,522 in local asset forfeitures before we can get passed the $26,663,800 in annual costs for prosecuting and jailing minor marijuana possessions in just Harris County alone. Federal agencies target all the big asset seizures but according to this inspector general’s report, what gets accurately reported of that money causes more corrupt internal fighting and competition between federal agencies than any shared resources with local law enforcement.

In short, for local jurisdictions, decriminalizing marijuana makes plain economic sense. And for districts with law enforcement overwhelmed and under budget decriminalization may be the only logical choice to keep up with the payroll.

What do we do as activists? We can pay attention to candidates for District Attorney and Sheriff to vet them on marijuana policy so we can take local action to decriminalize. (After they become Sheriff? Just say “Am I being arrested?” and make sure you know what a Motion to Suppress Evidence is: example here)

But the real people we need to contact to make effective improvement in marijuana policy is not the President, the DA, a cop or anyone in the executive branch: It’s our state and local Congressman in the legislative branch. And this is the right website to do so.

Texas resident? Take Action:

HB 81 and SB 170 to decriminalize marijuana is pending in their respective chambers. Contact your Texas Representative to support HB 81 and SB 170 by clicking here

Vice Chair Todd Hunter is also the Chair of the Calendar Committee which decides if bills get a floor vote in Texas. Hunter held up a decriminalization bill in 2015 by failing to put the vote on the Calendar. If you live in Chorpus Christi, give Todd Hunter a call and tell him to give HB81 a floor vote!

Also in Texas do not forget to mention SB380 to abolish civil asset forfeiture in the state of Texas.

Visit Houston NORMLs website and follow them 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.

takeactionban

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!

Las Vegas NORML Hits the Ground Running with Lobby Day

17159166_1914499645452277_4695175184675219897_oThe Board of Directors of the newly-formed Las Vegas NORML recently traveled to the Nevada State House to lobby lawmakers in support of protections for marijuana patients and advocates.

Less than a month after forming Las Vegas NORML, the organization’s founding members provided testimony to the State Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of SB-374, sponsored by Senator Tick Segerblom.

SB-374 provides protection to citizens with professional licenses from having their license revoked for being a marijuana consumer. The bill would also prevent employers from taking disciplinary action against an employee for expressing opinions related to marijuana. Las Vegas NORML believes that SB-374 is great step forward in adding much needed protections for marijuana consumers who hold professional licenses.

Among those giving testimony was Madisen Saglibene, deputy director of Las Vegas NORML, who testified that she could be at risk for losing her Nevada gaming license simply for being a medical marijuana patient and speaking out against unjust marijuana laws.”We’re so excited to have a chance to speak to local lawmakers and be a voice for marijuana consumers,” said Madisen. “We really think this bill will be another great step towards NORMLizing marijuana use in Nevada by protecting both patients and responsible consumers.”

Las Vegas NORML’s Political Director and veteran Tim Petarra also gave comments at the Senate meeting, specifically mentioning that SB-374 would protect vets with professional licenses while they use medical marijuana for PTSD or depression. “After having been an activist for national legislation, focusing on state issues was a welcome change of pace and helped me use my experience to focus on issues closer to home,” said Petarra.

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Chris Thompson, executive director of Las Vegas NORML also provided testimony, speaking on behalf of prospective engineers who could lose their professional engineering licenses just for being a recreational cannabis consumer.

The trip up to Carson City was a huge learning experience for the young chapter, and everyone is extremely excited to continue reaching out to legislatures to ensure marijuana consumers are protected after legalization.

Find Las Vegas NORML on social media and stay tuned with our mission to be a positive voice for cannabis consumers in Sin City!

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

Colorado: Support Marijuana Membership Clubs!

Denver NORML

This past Tuesday, Denver NORML hosted a very successful Lobby Day at the Colorado State Capitol. Our Board of Directors, along with several members and volunteers, visited every Senate office where they distributed a fact sheet that highlighted the merits of SB17-184: The Private Marijuana Clubs Open And Public Use Bill, and why NORML supports it. We also had the opportunity to hear from several supporters of the bill including Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, Representative Jonathan Singer, and Representative Dan Pabon.

Since early 2016, Denver NORML has been on the front lines fighting for the social consumption of marijuana and will continue to lead the fight until our dream becomes a reality, but we need your support. With the passage of SB17-184: The Private Marijuana Clubs Open And Public Use Bill out of the Senate, we have an unprecedented opportunity to create access to safe, legal spaces for social marijuana consumption in Colorado, but the fight isn’t over. We are heading back to the Capitol on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 9am to lobby every member of the House and also to ask Governor Hickenlooper to not veto SB-184.

We are a 100% grassroots, volunteer-led organization that depends on the generosity of individuals and businesses to provide financial support for our efforts. While we gladly donate our time, there are ongoing costs associated with these efforts including all of the general expenses that pertain to a day at the Capitol including, but not limited to: transportation, parking, and printing of educational materials. If you or your organization would like to help by providing services or funds, please contact us at denverisnorml@gmail.com and one of our board members will follow up with you. We also have annual sponsorship programs and can provide you with information on how to become a yearly sponsor of our organization.

Click here to make a contribution to Denver NORML and support ongoing action.

We are making history again in Colorado, but we urgently need our community allies help to ensure we are able to reach out to all of our Colorado General Assembly members as well as Governor Hickenlooper, who had indicated he may not sign the bill in its current form.

If you’re interested in joining us, please fill out this form: NORML Lobby Day. If you can’t join us in person, please consider using NORML’s online Action Center to send an email to your legislators urging their support of SB-184.

COLORADO RESIDENTS: TAKE ACTION: SUPPORT MARIJUANA MEMBERSHIP CLUBS!

Thank you for your ongoing support!

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/3/2017


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

At the state level, we have updated or added 23 Action Alerts this week as the total number of pieces of legislation introduced nationwide that pertain to marijuana has now topped 1,400.

Federally, the developments just keep on coming, furthering the confusion and disarray at the Department of Justice and the marijuana policy objectives of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

AG Sessions has articulated alternative facts in regards to marijuana and violence and opioids and has yet to say what “increased enforcement” means. Yet a staffer at the DoJ did say that the “The department’s current policy is reflected in the 2013 Cole Memo,” referring to the Obama policy.

Additionally, 11 Senators sent a letter to the Attorney General that stated “It is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the DOJ that it will respect the ability of states to enforce thoughtful, sensible drug policies in ways that do not threaten the public’s health and safety,” the senators wrote. “This ensures that state infrastructure, including tax revenue, small businesses, and jobs, can be protected; DOJ resources can be used most effectively; and most importantly, that marijuana can be properly regulated to improve public health and safety.”

Conveniently, the “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” was reintroduced this week in the House of Representatives. Email your Representative to sign onto the bill and support it now by clicking here.

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

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

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Bills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Update: The Senate version of this bill, SB 357, has passed Committee and now awaits action on the Senate floor.

AR Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to oppose this legislation.

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

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

CT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

Iowa
Senate legislation is pending, SF 280, to reduce penalties involving the possession of five grams of marijuana or less.

If passed, the measure would classify first time offenses from a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, to a simple misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 30 days in jail and a $625 fine.

Update: Members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee passed the measure to the full Committee on February 28.

IA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

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

TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

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

VT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

Update: SB1027 has been passed unanimously by both the House (99-0) and Senate (38-0) and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law or vetoed. The Governor’s Action deadline is midnight on March 27.

VA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

Additional Actions To Take

Arizona
Legislation is pending, SB 1337, to permit for the licensed production of industrial hemp.

The proposal redefines hemp as a legal agricultural product and finds, “[T]he development and use of industrial hemp can improve the economy.”

Update: SB 1337 passed in the Senate with a vote of 26-4 and is being transmitted to the House.

AZ Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

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

Update: AB 1578 may be heard in committee on March 21.

CA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

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

Update: A hearing was held to debate and discuss SB 155 on February 20.

KS Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

Missouri
Legislation has been introduced in the House, HB 1095, to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate the commercial cannabis market.

The measure permits adults to legally possess up to 35 grams of marijuana and/or to cultivate up to six marijuana plants. Adults may legally possess the total yield from those plants.

MO Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

New Mexico
State Representatives Bill McCamley and Javier Martinez introduced HB 89, the Cannabis Revenue & Freedom Act to regulate the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana in the state. Companion legislation, SB 278, introduced by Sen. Gerald Ortiz, is also pending in the Senate.

Update: Members of the House Business and Industry Committee voted 9-1 on Monday, February 27, to defeat House Bill 89. SB 278 is still awaiting a vote in the Senate.

NM Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

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

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

NM Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

South Dakota
Two bills are pending in South Dakota that provide various protections for medical marijuana users in South Dakota. SB 95 and SB 157 do not establish a South Dakota program, but protect those individuals who are prescribed medical marijuana in another state.

SB 95 removes cannabidiol from schedule I and places it in schedule IV. Furthermore, it excludes cannabidiol entirely from the definition of marijuana.

SB 157 protects patients that possess marijuana while they have a valid medical card from another state. The measure “covers patients who have moved to Colorado… or another legal state and done their due diligence for being prescribed medical marijuana.”

Update: Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee removed the FDA provision from SB 95 and passed it 7 to 3 on March 2.

SD Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

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

Update: HB 173 has been passed out of subcommittee and now awaits action by the full House Criminal Justice Committee.

TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to oppose this legislation.

Additionally, Several pieces of legislation are pending to amend marijuana possession penalties.

HB 831 and SB 1116 seek to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Update: SB 1116 has a hearing scheduled for March 7.

TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

Texas
State Senator Jose Menendez has filed Senate Bill 269, currently making its way through committee, to protect qualified patients who consume cannabis and to provide for the state-licensed production and distribution of the plant.

Update: A bipartisan House version of SB269 to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Texas has just been introduced by Representative Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, titled HB 2107.

TX Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

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

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

WA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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

Update: The first bill, SB 38, had been introduced to the Senate and referred to committee.

WI Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/18/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

Priority Alerts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Actions To Take

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

 

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