Bill To Exclude Hemp From The Controlled Substances Act

hempfieldCongressman James Comer (R-KY-1) and 15 co-sponsors have reintroduced legislation to amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp.

Currently, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 labels hemp as a Schedule I drug.

H.R. 3530 excludes low-THC strains of cannabis grown for industrial purposes from the federal definition of marijuana.

The majority of US states have already enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and allowing for its cultivation. In 2014, members of Congress approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant.

All parts of the hemp plant can be cultivated and used to produce everyday household items. It can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials such as clothing, paper, construction materials, and biofuel. Not only is it useful, but growing hemp is much more environmentally friendly than traditional crops.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.

Click HERE to urge your Representative to support this legislation.

 

Empire State NORML in Albany with the Start SMART Campaign

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Lobby Day
The Drug Policy Alliance, along with other campaign pillar groups Empire State NORML, VOCAL-NY, Cannabis Cultural Association, LatinoJustice and the Immigrant Defense Project, held a press conference and lobby day to announce the Start Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade (Start SMART) campaign to advocate for the substantially amended version of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) this past Monday, June 12th.

Dozens of activists from all around the state took buses, drove cars and rode trains to Albany to join the campaign in launching and lobbying for the legalization bill. After the excellent citizen lobby day training provided by the Drug Policy Alliance, the group split up to divide and conquer before the press conference hitting as many offices as they could as well as attending scheduled meetings.

In the afternoon the press conference was held in front of the Senate Chambers. Joining advocates at the press conference were the MRTA’s prime sponsors in both houses, Senator Liz Krueger (D-New York) and Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo), as well as key MRTA sponsors including: Assemblymember Dick Gottfried (D-New York), Senator Jamaal Bailey (D-Bronx), Senator Jesse Hamilton (IDC-Brooklyn), Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), Assemblymember Walter Mosley (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblymember Michael Blake (D-Bronx). We also heard from representatives of Start SMART pillar groups, Drug Policy Alliance (Kassandra Frederique), Empire State NORML (Doug Greene), LatinoJustice (Juan Cartagena), VOCAL-NY (Nick Malinowski), Immigrant Defense Project (Mizue Aizeki) and Cannabis Cultural Association (Nelson Guerrero and Jacob Plowden).

Afterwards the group of dedicated activists went back to work. Some went to the Senate and Assembly chambers to pull their members off the floor to seek their support of the new bill, while others continued dropping off materials at the offices of legislators who have voted for further decriminalization but haven’t supported taxation and regulation of marijuana.

The Start SMART campaign

The substantially amended MRTA would reestablish a legal market for marijuana in New York and create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol and the craft brewery industry, for adults over the age of 21. Over the past twenty years, nearly 800,000 people have been negatively affected by the harms of prohibition. With people of color accounting for nearly 85% of those arrested annually for possession, the collateral consequences are felt most in these communities. Because of the racial injustice caused by prohibition, the bill is not only an end to prohibition in New York, but also a win in the ongoing fight for racial equality. Significant steps are taken to ensure that those most negatively affected by prohibition will benefit from its repeal.

The reworked Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) includes substantial racial justice and small business-friendly amendments, including:

  • Creating a micro-license structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, that allows small-scale production and sale plus delivery to reduce barriers to entry for people with less access to capital and traditional avenues of financing.
  • Establishing the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which will invest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war through job training, economic empowerment, and youth development programming.
  • Ensuring diversity in New York’s marijuana industry by removing barriers to access like capital requirements and building inclusivity by allowing licensing to people with prior drug convictions. Only people with business-related convictions (such as fraud or tax evasion) will be explicitly barred from receiving licenses

Start SMART NY is a campaign to end marijuana prohibition and repair the harms to communities convened by the Drug Policy Alliance in partnership with groups dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition, including Empire State NORML.

NY resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of the bill. 

Make sure to visit Empire State NORML’s website by clicking here and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here to see the press release from earlier in the week. and click here to go to the Start SMART NY website

NORML National Board Endorses Medical Cannabis Act in Arkansas

The test should be, “Is it better than Prohibition.” Does the proposal stop the arrest of smokers and establish a legal market where consumers can obtain their marijuana?

At our board meeting in Boson held this past Friday, in conjunction with the Boston Freedom Rally, the board voted to endorse the 2016 Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, sponsored by the Arkansans for Compassionate Care. This initiative would establish 38 non-profit medical cannabis centers across the state, and would function like most of the standard medical use laws in effect across the country, requiring a patient to receive a written recommendation for an Arkansas licensed physician and obtain a medical use card from the state permitting them to purchase marijuana from one of the licensed dispensaries for a wide range of ailments and conditions. Or if a patient lives more than 5 miles from a licensed dispensary they would be permitted to cultivate up to six plants in a secured facility.

The attorney representing the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act is long-time NORML Legal Committee member, John Wesley Hall from Little Rock.

 A second proposed medical use initiative has also qualified for the November ballot, proposing a Constitutional amendment permitting the medical use of marijuana (The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment). This second proposal is far more restrictive than the first in terms of the list of conditions for which marijuana could be recommended, and does not permit personal cultivation. It is not clear why the sponsors wished to propose this as a Constitutional amendment, as a simple act would require a 2/3 vote by the legislature to reverse it, and our opponents do not have the support in the state legislature to accomplish that.

As a result, the NORML board felt the Aransas Medical Cannabis Act is a more consumer-friendly proposal and elected to endorse it.

 Strange Suit Filed By Misguided Attorney

Also, one misguided defense attorney, apparently acting as a surrogate for the sponsors of the Constitutional amendment, has filed suit against the Act that had previously qualified, challenging their signatures. The misguided individual alleged in her law suit that she is a NORML Legal Committee Life Member (although she did not allege that NORML has joined or supported her suit), but she does not attempt to explain why she would oppose a well-drafted medical use initiative that appears to have a good chance to be approved by the voters.

 The NORML board of directors wanted to make it clear that NORML is not involved in this suit, nor do we think it is a helpful strategy.

Maine Marijuana Legalization Bill Scheduled for Committee Hearing on Friday

LD 1229, which aims to make Maine the third state to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, has been scheduled for a hearing before the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety this Friday at 10am. The measure was introduced with the support of primary sponsor Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) and 35 co-sponsors.

NORML has been working closely with Rep. Russell in support of this historic legislation and we are hearing that the outpouring of grassroots support is having an impact. Elected officials in Maine are giving serious consideration to supporting this bill, many have already come over to our side. If this momentum keeps up, Maine stands an excellent chance of becoming the third state to legalize marijuana, but Mainers need to take action and urge their elected officials to stand behind this legislation.

If you live in Maine, please consider attending the hearing in person. You can find the event details and RSVP by clicking here. Make sure you also click here to use NORML’s Take Action Center to contact your elected officials via email and urge them to support LD 1229.

If you don’t live in Maine, you can still help get the word out. Share the above links on your Facebook/Twitter/etc and encourage your friends and family in Maine to take action to legalize marijuana.

UPDATED: Click here to tune in live! The press conference starts at 9:20am EST and the hearing at 10:00am EST.

Together, we WILL legalize marijuana.

MAINE: CLICK HERE TO WRITE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS AND HERE TO RSVP FOR THE HEARING!

Fox News Poll: Nationwide Support For Medical Marijuana Legalization At All Time High

Nearly nine out of ten Americans — including 80 percent of self-identified Republicans — now say that marijuana should be legal if its use is permitted by a physician, according to nationwide Fox News telephone poll of 1,010 registered voters. The poll, released today, was conducted by under the direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) and possesses margin of sampling error of ± 3 percentage points.

According to the poll, 85 percent of voters agree that adults ought to be allowed to use cannabis for therapeutic purposes if a physician authorizes it. The total marked an increase in support of four percent since Fox last polled the question in 2010 and is the highest level of public support for the issue ever reported in a scientific poll.

Although respondents were divided on whether they believed that “most people who smoke medical marijuana truly need it,” the overwhelming majority of voters nonetheless agreed that consuming the plant should be legal if a doctor permits it.

To date, eighteen states and Washington, DC have enacted laws authorizing the physician-supervised use of cannabis therapy. Medical cannabis legalization measures are presently pending in a number of additional state legislatures, including Illinois, New Hampshire, and New York.

Voters in the Fox News poll were less supportive of the notion of legalizing the non-medical consumption of marijuana. The poll reported that only 46 percent of voters favored broader legalization, while 49 percent of respondents opposed the idea. Self-identified Democrats (57 percent) were far more likely to support legalizing cannabis than Republicans (33 percent) or Independents (47 percent). Men (51 percent) were more likely to support legalization than were women (41 percent). Those age 35 or under were most likely (62 percent) to back legalization while those age 65 and older were least likely (31 percent) to be supportive.

By contrast, in recent months national polls by The Pew Research Center, YouGov.com, Quinnipiac University, and Public Policy Polling have reported majority public support for legalizing and regulating the adult use of cannabis.

Despite the overwhelming public support for medical marijuana law reform, legislation in Congress to amend federal law to allow for its use it states which permit it — House Bill 689, the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act — only possess 16 co-sponsors (less than four percent of the entire US House of Representatives). The bill has been referred to both the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health and to the House Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations — neither of which have scheduled the bill for a public hearing.

Marijuana Legalization Measure Formally Introduced in Maine with 35 Co-Sponsors

This week, Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) formally introduced LD 1229: An Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana into the Maine legislature. This legislation would legalize the sale of as much as 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana per week to people 21 or older at licensed retail locations. It would also permit for the cultivation of the plant in private settings. The measure has been assigned to the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

In a previous session, an earlier version of Russell’s legalization measure was rejected by House lawmakers by a vote of 107 to 39. States Rep. Russell: “I think there’s been a major culture shift since I introduced this bill in 2011. What we’ll see is a lot more folks ready to talk about this issue.”

This cultural shift is readily apparent in the groundswell of support this legislation has already generated. LD 1229 was introduced with the backing of 35 co-sponsors from across the political spectrum. Those supporting the bill were 2 tribal representatives, 28 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 1 independent. The previous version of this measure only had 4 co-sponsors.

NORML is pleased to support this historic legislation that would make Maine the third state to legalize the adult consumption of marijuana and regulate its retail production and sale. This is common sense legislation that would put Maine at the vanguard of a reform which is not only supported by over half of the country, but would also save the state precious law enforcement resources, create a new job and tax producing industry, stop the arrest of non-violent citizens, enhance protection of civil liberties, and help keep marijuana out of the hands of Maine’s children. We urge Representative Russell’s colleagues to join with her and the 35 co-sponsors of LD 1229 in taking a stand to end the state’s prohibition on marijuana and to start creating a safer Maine.

Our supporters generated hundreds of emails to their elected officials urging them to co-sponsor this measure and it looks like that outpouring of support is already paying off. However, we need to keep up the momentum. If you live in Maine, please take a moment today to contact your Representative and State Senator and urge them to support this important legislation. You can do so using NORML’s Take Action Center here.

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