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Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/22

NORML Blog - Fri, 03/22/2019 - 12:00

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee has scheduled to convene a markup on The Safe Banking Act, HR 1595 on Tuesday, March 26th.

Activists in Oregon have filed a 2020 ballot initiative with the Secretary of State that, if approved, would allow social cannabis consumption sites and protect consumers from employment discrimination. Similarly, activists in Arizona are attempting to qualify a 2020 legalization ballot initiative.

Governor Ron DeSantis (R) of Florida signed legislation into law to restore patients’ right to smoke medical cannabis.

Governor Ralph Northam (D) of Virginia signed legislation into law that will allow medical cannabis oil to be administered to patients on school property.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York announced that marijuana legalization language will no longer appear in his budget proposal.

At a more local level, city commissioners in Lawrence, Kansas voted 4 to 1 to reduce the city’s fine for cannabis possession to $1. And Steelton Borough, Pennsylvania passed an ordinance to decriminalize up to 30 grams of cannabis possession.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

Your Highness,
Carly

Actions to Take

Federal

End Prohibition: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of this important legislation

California

Senate Bill 34 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

Update: SB 34 was approved by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on 3/20.

CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of compassionate care programs

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 223, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

The measure permits a parent or guardian to administer medical cannabis to their child patient on school grounds in a non-smoking and non-vaping form.

Update: SB 223 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/26 at 1:30pm.

CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

Colorado

House Bill 19-1028 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Update: HB 19-1028 was approved by the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services on 3/14, and then was approved by the Senate on 3/20. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

CO resident? Click here to email your governor in support of medical expansion

Connecticut

Lawmakers in Connecticut have introduced a package of bills specific legalizing and regulating the use and sale of marijuana by adults, and facilitating equity in the industry.

Senate Bill 1085 permits those age 21 and over to purchase and possess up to one and one half ounces of marijuana. The measure would also allow those with past marijuana possession convictions to petition the court to have their record expunged.

Separately, House Bill 7371 would establish a regulatory framework for the licensed retail sale of adult use marijuana.

Update: SB 1085 was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/22, and HB 7371 was heard by the House General Law Committee on 3/22.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Delaware

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 45, to amend certain marijuana penalties for juvenile offenders.

Under state law, adults face civil penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses. Senate Bill 45 would make this policy consistent for juvenile offenders.

DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions for juveniles

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 59, to expand medical cannabis access.

The measure expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants and nurse practitioners to issue recommendations to their patients.

DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Georgia

House Bill 324 seeks to establish a regulatory framework to permit the retail sale of medical CBD products to registered patients.

Update: HB 324 was heard by the Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee on 3/21.

GA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical CBD expansion

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1383, that would decriminalize certain marijuana possession offenses.

The bill would would impose a civil penalty for the possession of up to three grams of marijuana, punishable by a $30 fine.

Update: HB 1383 was heard and approved by the Committees on Judiciary and Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs on 3/19. The bill was amended to lower the fine from $200 to $30.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Legislation is pending, House Bill 673 / Senate Bill 1430, to expand medical cannabis access.

The measure would protect registered medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination by prohibiting employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume medical cannabis off-the-job in accordance with state law.

Update: HB 673 was heard and approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health on 3/21. The bill was amended to strip out provisions that would allow the sale of medical cannabis edible products and permit physician assistants to issue recommendations. But a provision to protect patients from employment discrimination was added.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Senate Bill 1353 seeks to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: SB 1352 was heard by the House Committee on Judiciary on 3/18.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Illinois

House Bill 902 – The Cannabis Legalization Equity Act would regulate the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of adult use marijuana.

The measure would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 224 grams of marijuana and cultivate up to 24 mature plants in their home.

Update: HB 902 was heard in the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee on 3/19.

IL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

House Bill 2493 allows those convicted of possessing up to 30 grams of cannabis to petition the court to have their records automatically expunged.

House Bill 2734 would call for a review of past convictions and would establish a process to automatically expunge the records of individuals who were convicted of certain marijuana possession offenses.

House Bill 2621 would allow individuals to petition the court for expungement of marijuana possession convictions for activity that has since been decriminalized.

House Bill 3392 would automatically limit access to criminal records of individuals who have completed all court orders and have gone ten years without any additional felony or misdemeanor convictions.

Update: All four bills were heard in the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee on 3/19.

IL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

House Bill 2980 / Senate Bill2023 would amend the Illinois Banking Act and the Illinois Credit Union Act in a manner that facilitates banks and other financial institutions to safely conduct transactions with licensed marijuana businesses.

Update: HB 2980 was heard in the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee on 3/19. SB 2023 was approved by the Senate Financial Institutions Committee on 3/20.

IL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of banking access

A majority of the members of Illinois’ House of Representatives have added their names as cosponsors to a resolution urging lawmakers hit the brakes on the marijuana legalization debate.

The resolution states, “Lawmakers should not rush irresponsible legislation purely for tax revenues but should consider the health and safety of Illinoisans as their first priority when considering the question of legalization.”

IL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in opposition to stalling the legalization debate

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 233 / HB 2173, to establish an industrial hemp program to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: HB 2173 was approved by the House Committee on Agriculture on 3/20.

KS resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Maine

Legislation is pending, LD 942, to require health insurance companies to reimburse patients for their out-of-pocket medical marijuana related costs.

Update: LD 942 was heard in the Senate on 3/19.

ME resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of reimbursement for patients

Legislation is pending, LD 1374, to allow licensed dispensaries and caregivers to home deliver medical cannabis to select patients.

ME resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis delivery services

Maryland

Legislation is pending, HB 33 / SB 893, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

Update: SB 893 was approved by the Senate on 3/15, and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health and Government Operations Committee on 3/27 at 1:00pm..

MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 857 / House Bill 17, to allow licensed dispensaries to sell edible medical cannabis products.

Update: SB 857 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 3/15, and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health and Government Operations Committee on 3/27 at 1:00pm.

MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis edible products

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 854, to mandate employers and/or their insurers to provide worker’s compensation for those who may require medical cannabis therapy as a result of an occupational injury.

MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of workers compensation for medical cannabis

Minnesota

Legislation is pending, HF 766 / SF 1070, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

The measure would:

  • Authorize each dispensary to open four additional locations in specified areas throughout the state
  • Allow specific formulations of medical cannabis to be administered to qualified patients on school grounds

Update: SF 1070 was heard by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy on 3/21.

MN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Nevada

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 228, to expand Nevada’s medical cannabis access program.

The proposed changes:

  • Allows wellness service providers such as massage therapists, reflexologists, and structural integration practitioners to recommend and administer cannabis and hemp infused products for therapeutic purposes;
  • Prohibits a practitioner from refusing to prescribe a controlled substance to a patient solely because the patient uses marijuana; and
  • Establishes a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee the state’s medical marijuana access program.

Update: SB 228 was heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 3/20.

NV resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, House Bill 481, to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

Update: The House Ways and Means Committee will hold an executive session on HB 481 on 3/27.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Legislation is pending, House Bill 364, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The measure would permit patients to grow up to three mature plants and 12 seedlings, and to possess up to two ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

Update: HB 364 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 3/26/2019, Room 101, Legislative Office Building at 2:15 pm.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation

Legislation is pending, HB 350, to expand medical cannabis access.

The measure expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

Update: HB 364 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 3/26/2019, Room 101, Legislative Office Building at 1:15 pm.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Legislation is pending, House Bill 459, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: HB 459 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/19.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

New Jersey

Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497: The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act would regulate adult use marijuana sales and also provide for the expungement of certain past records.

Update: S. 2703 was heard and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/18, and A. 4497 was heard and approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18. The bills are scheduled to be considered by the full chambers on Monday 3/25.

NJ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

S. 3205 / A. 4498, would make more crimes eligible for expungement — including offenses involving controlled dangerous substances — and cut the wait time down to five years. It also includes a “clean slate” process that will wipe away all offenses at once for anyone who has a clean record for 10 years after their last offense. Many more serious crimes would not be eligible.

Update: S. 3205 was heard and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/18, and A. 4498 was heard and approved the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18. The bills are scheduled to be considered by the full chambers on Monday 3/25.

NJ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

Senate Bill 10 and Assembly Bill 10 seek to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis.

The measure facilitates the expansion of additional medical cannabis growers and providers, while also expanding the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. It further expands the pool of licensed health professional who may recommend medical cannabis, and shields registered patients from employment discrimination and the loss of child custody. It also phases out retail sales taxes on medical cannabis, amongst other changes.

Update: A. 10 was heard and approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18. The bills are scheduled to be considered by the full chambers on Monday 3/25.

NJ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

New Mexico

Senate Bill 406:

  • Allows medical practitioners to recommend medical cannabis for several new conditions, including PTSD, Parkinson’s, and severe chronic pain;
  • Prohibits employers from taking adverse action on an employee due to a positive drug test result or their status as a patient
  • Allows primary caregivers to obtain a license to grow medical cannabis;
  • Removes medical cannabis use as a violation of probation or parole;
  • Protects patients who require organ transplants

Update: SB 406 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/16, and no heads to the governor’s desk.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

New York

Legislation is pending, S.4117, that would prohibit the eviction of tenants for using medical marijuana for a certified medical use.

Update: S. 4117 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee on 3/26 at 10:30am in Room 123 CAP.

NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of housing protections

North Carolina

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 168, to expand the state’s medical CBD exemption law.

The measure expands the pool of individuals eligible for a medical CBD exemption to include those diagnosed with autism, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and Mitochondrial disease.

Update: S. 168 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/20.

NC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expanded medical CBD exemptions

North Dakota

House Bill 1417 allows physicians to explicitly authorize patients diagnosed with cancer to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis than are generally allowed under the law.

Separately, House Bill 1519 would permit providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with 13 additional conditions, including anorexia nervosa, anxiety, opioid use disorder or withdrawal, and autism.

A third measure, House Bill 1283, would allow physicians assistants to recommend medical cannabis to their patients.

And a separate measure, House Bill 1364, would permit edible medical cannabis products, as long as they do not appeal to minors.

Update: HB 1417, 1519, and 1283 were all approved by the Senate Human Services Committee. HB 1364 was reported out of committee without a recommendation.

ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Oklahoma

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 868 / House Bill 2628, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: SB 868 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 3/18, and will now be transmitted to the House.

OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Oregon

Legislation is pending, House Bill 3169, which seeks to allow licensed cannabis businesses to safely conduct transactions with financial institutions.

If passed, this legislation would allow banking institutions and credit unions to organize as limited charter cannabis financial institutions.

Update: HB 3169 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Economic Development Committee on 3/25 at 1pm in room HR D.

OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of banking access

South Carolina

H. 3660 / S. 366: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, would regulate medical cannabis distribution and access, but it prohibits the inhalation or smoking of herbal medical cannabis.

Update: S. 366 was approved by the Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee on 3/20, and will next be considered by the full committee.

SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

Legislation is pending, H 3449, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with new federal hemp regulations.

Update: H 3449 was heard in the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee on 3/21.

SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Tennessee

Legislation is pending, SB 256/HB 235, to decriminalize the possession small amounts of marijuana in Tennessee.

The measure would remove criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Update: HB 235 was placed on the calendar for a hearing in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on 3/27.

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Legislation is pending, SB 260/HB 234, to allow out-of-state medical cannabis patients to legally possess their medicine while visiting Tennessee.

Under this measure, patients who are registered to use medical cannabis in those 33 jurisdictions that permit its therapeutic use may legally possess up to a half-ounce of cannabis while visiting Tennessee.

Update: HB 234 was placed on the calendar for a hearing in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on 3/27.

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of out-of-state protections

Legislation is pending, SB 357 / HB 844, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: HB 844 was heard by the House Rules Committee on 3/21, and will be considered by the full House on 3/25.

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Vermont

S. 54 would establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

Update: S. 54 was heard by the House Committee on Government Operations on 3/20.

VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of regulation

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 58, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: S. 58 was approved by the Senate Committees on Finance, Agriculture, and Appropriations on 3/22.

VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Washington

Legislation is pending, SB 5605 / HB 1500, to allow individuals with prior misdemeanor cannabis convictions to apply to the sentencing court to have their record vacated.

Update: SB 5605 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Public Safety on 3/25 at 1:30pm.

WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of vacating past records

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1095 / Senate Bill 5442, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

Update: HB 1095 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education on 3/27 at 1:30pm.

WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 5276, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: SB 5276 is scheduled for an executive session in the House Committee on Commerce & Gaming.

WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

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NORML Responds To Latest Cannabis and Psychosis Claims

NORML Blog - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 13:35

A widely reported study appearing today in the British journal The Lancet alleges that an estimated 30 to 50 percent of psychosis cases in Europe are due to cannabis exposure, and that exposure to elevated levels of THC increases this risk.

NORML has previously written on the data showing a multi-directional association between cannabis and psychiatric illnesses, and we have cautioned that those predisposed to psychosis or other disorders may be at higher risk for adverse events.

That said, it remains premature at best, and sensational at worst to claim that a causal relationship exists between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders on the basis of this new paper. That is because, by the observational nature of its design, this study at best can only demonstrate a correlation.

Nonetheless, despite this limitation, the authors boldly “assume causality.” Given the fact that such a cause-and-effect relationship remains unproven and there as of yet exists no consensus among experts that such causation exists, their assumption is, at best, highly questionable.

Moreover, it is well established that those with psychiatric illness typically use all intoxicants at greater rates than do the general public, so the fact that those admitted to institutions for first-episode psychosis are more likely to consume cannabis than are those in the general population is hardly surprising. But it is not evidence that marijuana in any way causes the condition. Rather, this association may exist because many psychiatric patients are self-medicating with cannabis. Or, this relationship may persist because many people predisposed to psychosis are similarly predisposed to also using cannabis — a theory that is supported by many experts in the field.

Perhaps most importantly, the fact that cannabis has been used by various populations for decades at disparate rates, yet rates of psychosis and other psychiatric disorders have generally remained static over this same period of time, strongly argues against a direct causal relationship.

Finally, authors’ presumptions specific to the supposed disparate effects of cannabis based upon THC potency are also highly questionable. This is because subjects in the study self-reported their cannabis use. As a result, authors had no ability to verify the THC content of the marijuana consumed by participants. Further, the cannabis consumed by subjects in the study was largely obtained via black market channels — leaving the users equally in the dark with regard to its actual cannabinoid content.

Nonetheless, despite these limitations, the concerns raised in this paper and others ought to be taken seriously, and they provide an argument in favor of greater regulation of the plant so that it can be better kept out of the hands of young people and those who may be at higher risk for an adverse reaction. But maintaining cannabis prohibition, unfortunately, achieves neither result. Placed in this context, these latest scare-mongering claims — even if taken at face value — do little to advance arguments in favor of tightening prohibition, and provides ample ammunition to wage for its repeal.

Categories: Blog Feeds

New Jersey: Lawmakers Advance Important Marijuana Law Reform Bills

NORML Blog - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 12:22

In some big news out of New Jersey, several marijuana reform bills have been voted out of their committees and are awaiting floor votes.

Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497 have both passed out of their committees and are set to be voted on as early as Monday, March 25th. These bills would legalize the personal possession of one ounce or less of cannabis and would regulate and tax the adult-use and retail sale. Some highlights of this landmark legislation are-

  • Expedited expungement of past misdemeanor marijuana convictions
  • Taxing marijuana sales at three-percent, which will be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist
  • Incentives to promote socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry

Governor Phil Murphy, one of the driving forces of marijuana legalization in the state since taking office in January, has already signaled his intent to sign a legalization bill once it gets to his desk. However, the margins in the New Jersey State Legislature are still very close, with a slight majority of the legislators being in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult-use in the state. With several state lawmakers still on the fence about legalization, input from residents of New Jersey is of paramount importance. Legalizing marijuana would result in dozens of positive impacts for New Jerseyans and cannot happen without the support of reform-minded residents who are committed to personal freedom in New Jersey.

Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of legalizing marijuana in the Garden State.

 

Other legislation, Senate Bill 3205 and Assembly Bill A4498 have both passed out of their committees and are awaiting scheduled votes. These bills would allow for the expedited expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions after marijuana legalization is signed into law in New Jersey. It reduces the wait time for expungement and expands the list of convictions eligible for expungement upon marijuana legalization in the state.

Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of this effort.

 

Separate legislation, Senate Bill S10 and Assembly Bill A10 have both passed out of their committees and are awaiting scheduled votes. These bills would expand the state’s medical marijuana program to allow for greater accessibility and protections for qualified patients. It increases the amount of medical cannabis a qualified patient is legally allowed to purchase and possess, protects patients from losing their jobs or custody of their children simply because of their status as a medical patient, and phases out retail sales taxes on medical marijuana to make the program more affordable for patients.

Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of this effort.

 

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Categories: Blog Feeds

Marijuana Banking Bill Scheduled For Committee Markup

NORML Blog - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 15:22

In the first in what are anticipated to be multiple Congressional hearings to address the federal prohibition and criminalization of marijuana, the House Financial Services Committee has scheduled to convene a markup on The Safe Banking Act, HR 1595 on Tuesday, March 26th.

Thousands of state-licensed and regulated businesses lack access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes because federal law discourages financial institutions from engaging in such partnerships. This ongoing federal prohibition forces this newly emerging billion-dollar industry operates largely on a cash-only basis — an environment that makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. It also places the safety and welfare of these business’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

“This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. In order to best support the states that have had the good judgment to license and regulate businesses to produce, manufacture, or distribute cannabis, it is critical that Congress address the lack of basic banking services and amend federal law accordingly.

“The banking issue is just one aspect of the failed policy of federal marijuana criminalization. In order to truly bring the marijuana industry out of the shadows, actions need to be taken by Congress to amend this, and many others, outdated and discriminatory practices.

“This will certainly not be the last hearing of this Congress to discuss marijuana prohibition and we expect a full hearing on prohibition to be scheduled in the months to come.”

The sponsor of The SAFE Banking Act, Congressman Ed Perlmutter said, “For six years, Congress has failed to act on the issue of cannabis banking, putting thousands of employees, businesses, and communities at risk. However, the issue is finally receiving the attention it deserves with the first-ever congressional hearing and now a scheduled committee vote. With 97.7% of the U.S. population living in a state where voters have legalized some form of adult recreational, medical or limited-medical use of marijuana, congressional inaction is no longer an option. And with broad, bipartisan support in the House, I look forward to the SAFE Banking Act continuing to move forward in the Financial Services Committee and on the floor of the House.”

You can send a message to your member of Congress in support of The SAFE Banking Act here. 

Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional fifteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to 2018 national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

Specifically, a 2019 report estimates that over 211,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

Send a message to your member of Congress in support of The SAFE Banking Act now!

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Oregon NORML, In Partnership With The Oregon Justice League, Files “Legalization Justice Act of 2020”

NORML Blog - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 09:24

Chief Petitioners Madeline Martinez, Leia Flynn, and Angela Bacca filed a ballot measure to be known as “The Legalization Justice Act of 2020” at the Oregon State Capitol on Monday, March 18. All three women are longtime West Coast cannabis advocates.

Madeline Martinez is the executive director of Oregon NORML and the only Latina member of the board of directors of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). She generated international headlines when she opened the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in 2009, the nation’s first public-facing cannabis consumption lounge.

“This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are still marginalized for their cannabis use, despite legalization,” said Martinez.

Leia Flynn is a legal assistant at a firm that works with cannabis businesses and the owner of Flight Lounge, a members-only private cafe allowed under the City of Portland’s social consumption guidelines. A former medical cannabis caregiver and member of Oregon Green Free, she has put her voice out into the public in order to create safe spaces for cannabis consumers.

“We are in a situation where we have legalized it and anyone over the age of 21 can purchase it, but you cannot smoke it anywhere unless you own your home,” Flynn says. “That is discrimination.”

Angela Bacca is a Portland-based writer and editor who has been covering the national cannabis industry for over 10 years. Having witnessed the early days of medical cannabis caregiving in California as a patient living with Crohn’s Disease, Bacca feels it is imperative to protect patients’ rights to botanical medicine.

“I would sum up our policy as ‘do the right thing’. Let’s create legal cannabis policy that acknowledges both science and reality,” Bacca says.

Background

The Oregon Justice League does not believe the State of Oregon has implemented Measure 91 in the spirit under which the law was passed. The OJL seeks to right these wrongs as well as provide a model for other states to implement a more just version of cannabis legalization.

Legalization was sold to Oregon citizens as a way to grow, develop and sustain our small business economies, end the discrimination of citizens based on their interactions with the cannabis plant and uphold, protect and ensure the right of medical cannabis patients to safe botanical access.

Therefore, the Legalization Justice Act of 2020 would make the following changes to Oregon law.

Summary of language:

Tax Revenues: Redistribute recreational cannabis taxes in a way that promotes the social justice goals of cannabis legalization. Once passed, the LJA would designate 25 percent of tax revenues to funding community development and micro-lending initiatives that promote small businesses in minority and underserved communities disproportionately affected by the failed War on Drugs. An additional 25 percent would be designated to subsidize medical cannabis purchases for low-income patients with qualifying conditions under the OMMP who have lost their access to direct caregiving from growers. The remaining 50 percent can continue to be used at the state’s discretion.

Changes to Oregon Medical Marijuana Program: Recognizing that cannabis as a botanical substance is recommended, not prescribed, a patient’s right to choose botanical cannabis in their medical care in consultation with a doctor must not be impeded. Patients with incurable or chronic illnesses must be allowed by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program to be issued a lifetime card if a qualifying physician recommends their cannabis use. Patients awaiting an organ donation cannot be removed from a transplant waiting list for using cannabis. The JA expands qualifying physicians under the OMMP to naturopaths, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners.

Producers of recreational or medical cannabis may enter into caregiving relationships with qualifying patients and provide medicine directly. The value of the product can be deducted from state cannabis excise taxes if the patient qualifies for low-income subsidization.

Social Consumption Spaces: Legalize and regulate cannabis social consumption cafes in a fashion that removes the discriminatory provision under the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act so that cannabis users can inhale inside. This section does the following (1) The Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act must be amended to allow smoking and vaporization of cannabis indoors. (2) Directs the OLCC to regulate and oversee the licensing and regulation of cannabis lounges. (3) Allows existing cannabis dispensaries to add a social consumption space. (4) Allows for OLCC licensed farms to host tours and tastings, as regulated by the OLCC. (5) Directs the OLCC to license and regulate cannabis social consumption spaces at public events. Allows delivery of cannabis to temporary residents and residents of municipalities that have banned cannabis dispensing storefronts.

Employment Protection: Create employment protections under the law to protect off-the-job cannabis use and prevent conceptually flawed drug testing from being used to discriminate against cannabis consumers.

Protect Oregon’s Craft Cannabis Community: Direct the state to directly advocate to the federal government for its craft cannabis community, specifically export of product out of Oregon’s borders.

For more information, follow Oregon NORML on Twitter.

Categories: Blog Feeds

New York: the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA)

NORML Blog - Mon, 03/18/2019 - 15:00

A.1617, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), has been re-introduced this legislative session. The bill would legalize the adult possession, use, and regulated sale of marijuana.

Over the past twenty years, many New Yorkers have been negatively affected by the harms of prohibition in New York. With people of color accounting for nearly 85% of those arrested annually, the MRTA directs the benefits of taxing and regulating marijuana to these communities. Because structural racism is ingrained in marijuana prohibition, it’s important that the MRTA both ends marijuana prohibition and promotes racial justice.

Significant steps are taken in the amended MRTA to ensure racial justice and a small business-friendly industry, including:

  • Creating a micro-licensing structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, which 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.

Our communities can’t wait. The decades of marijuana prohibition had created a stain on the fabric of our society, and urgent action is needed to begin to right the wrongs of the War on Drugs. Adult-use cannabis legalization must be passed in the state budget, and support for the MRTA goes a long way towards making that a reality. Freedom simply cannot wait any longer.

Click here to send a message to your New York State Assemblymember in urgent support of this effort.

 

We also encourage you to plug in with Empire State NORML. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their webpage HERE.

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Categories: Blog Feeds

New Mexico: Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Decriminalization, Other Reform Bills

NORML Blog - Mon, 03/18/2019 - 09:22

State lawmakers have approved a series of bills reducing penalties for marijuana possession offenses and strengthening and expanding legal protections for medical cannabis patients. The measures now await action from Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is supportive of the changes.

DECRIMINALIZATION

Senate Bill 323 amends minor marijuana possession penalties. The measure reduces first-time penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor — punishable by up to 15 days in jail — to a ‘penalty assessment,’ punishable by a $50 fine. Subsequent offenses, or in instances where the defendant possesses greater amounts of marijuana, remain punishable by the possibility of jail time.

Once signed into law, the reduced penalties take effect on July 1, 2019.

MEDICAL CANNABIS

Senate Bill 406 expands medical cannabis access and provides important new patient protections. It expands the pool of patients eligible for cannabis therapy to include those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, severe chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, sleep apnea, and neuropathy, among other newly specified conditions. It also enacts explicit legal protections prohibiting employers, social service workers, and hospitals from arbitrarily discriminating against patients solely for their medical cannabis status and/or for their failure to pass a drug test. The measure prohibits regulators from placing limits on the percentage of THC or other cannabinoids in therapeutic products and it establishes reciprocity with other states’ medical cannabis programs.

Separate legislation, Senate Bill 204 establishes regulations and procedures for the storage and administration of certain medical cannabis products to students in school settings.

INDUSTRIAL HEMP

House Bill 581 regulates the commercial production of industrial hemp and hemp-extract products in a manner that comports with provisions in the 2018 federal Farm Act. Under the legislation, “The department of environment shall issue permits … to extract, process or engage in other manufacturing activities regarding hemp, including manufacturing intermediate hemp-derived products and hemp finished products.” The effective date of the Act is July 1, 2019.

LEGALIZATION

House-backed legislation that sought to legalize the possession of marijuana by adults and regulate its commercial production and sale stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, after the Chair failed to call the bill for a vote. Nonetheless, Gov. Lujan Grisham has announced that she will add the issue to the agenda of the 2020 legislative session.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Must-haves in legalization bills

DrugWarRant - Sat, 03/16/2019 - 15:20

Some good advice from Shaleen Title, Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commissioner:

Top Ten Equity Must-Haves in Any Legalization Bill

  1. Homegrow. Allow consumers to grow a limited number of their own plants at home (in MA, it’s 6 per adult with max of 12 per residence, see law for details) and gift a limited amount to other adults (in MA, it’s one ounce). This serves as a check on monopolies, delays, and more.
  2. Automatic expungement for cannabis convictions, in the same law at the same time as legalization. Period.
  3. Ensure as a non-negotiable, never-expiring statutory requirement that people from disproportionately harmed communities are represented at the very top of the regulating agency. (Yes, there are plenty who are qualified.)
  4. Ensure that the regulating agency is diverse, independent, subject to full transparency, and appointed by different people. This is something I’m incredibly proud of in MA and I recommend adopting it. Brand new agencies take time/resources to start up, but it’s worth it.
  5. Dedicate tax revenue to be reinvested into disproportionately harmed communities. Give it teeth; do not allow that revenue to be “subject to appropriation” and do not require bureaucratic application processes that only privileged communities will be able to tap into. Sidenote: the Minority Cannabis Business Association model state bill, which I worked on before becoming a commissioner, creates an Office of Justice Reinvestment to fairly distribute such revenue.
  6. Separate from that reinvestment, invest a specific percentage of tax revenue into technical assistance, hiring programs and interest-free loans for disproportionately affected communities with a funding mechanism for initial programming and outreach as soon as the law passes. It is very important that you specify the agency(ies) in charge with specified deadlines and consequences for missing the deadlines. I think every existing equity program thus far, including the one I designed, underestimated the need for IMMEDIATE outreach and education.
  7. Require state regulators and localities to ensure diversity in the industry at ownership and employee levels, and to enforce limits, with goals, measurement, and accountability for the regulators (it may be best for them to design their own goals rather than specifying them).
  8. Institute a statutory requirement that tax revenue only flows to municipalities that have honored these mandates. Leave it up to the municipalities to figure out how to make their local laws and processes inclusive to disproportionately harmed communities BEFORE receiving any local taxes. Sidenote: my recommendation to anyone seeking an equitable cannabis program would be to not compromise an inch on this one. It could easily undermine all the rest. There are good and bad local examples throughout MA and CA.
  9. Require every business to contribute to these goals in addition to (*BUT NOT INSTEAD OF*) the government’s role. One option is to require diversity plans and positive impact plans as requirements for licensure and renewal, as in MA, but there are many ways to accomplish this.
  10. Lastly, require the regulating agency to collect data on each of these items, report the data regularly, and take remedial measures when the data is not satisfactory. Give the regulating agency broad flexibility and authority to accomplish this.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/15/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 13:22

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has reintroduced H.R. 1647, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which expands medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans. Additionally, Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act to explicitly bar federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a cannabis consumer, or due to testing positive for marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture held a hemp listening session this week as regulators work to establish rules and regulations for production.

At the state level, activists in Idaho have begun efforts to qualify a medical cannabis and hemp ballot initiative for the 2020 ballot.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) signed legislation into law that would strengthen and clarify medical cannabis patient protections.

After months of negotiation, Governor Murphy of New Jersey and state legislators have reached a deal on what will be included in upcoming legislation to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana in the state of New Jersey. Some highlights include expedited expungement for past misdemeanor marijuana convictions, a three-percent tax to be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist, and provisions to incentivize socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry.

Alaska became the first state to permit on-site adult use cannabis consumption, as Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer (R) signed off on the final regulations this week.

The proposed budget plan in both the New York state Senate and Assembly include marijuana legalization and regulation.

Members of Minnesota’s Senate Judiciary Committee defeated a legalization bill this week.

At a more local level, the Cocoa Beach, Florida city council voted 3-2 in favor of a proposal to decriminalize up to 20 grams of cannabis possession. And the prosecutor for Hennepin County, Minnesota announced that he will no longer charge individuals for selling or possessing up to 100 grams of cannabis (about 3.5 ounces).

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

Your Highness,
Carly

Actions to Take

Federal

End Prohibition: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of this important legislation

Arkansas

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1518, to remove hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the state’s list of controlled substances.

Update: HB 1518 was approved by the Senate on 3/13 by a 32-2 vote. The bill will now be transmitted to the governor.

AR resident? Click here to email your governor in support of removing hemp-derived CBD as a controlled substance

California

Senate Bill 34 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

Update: SB 34 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on 3/20 at 9:30am in room 112.

CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of compassionate care programs

Colorado

Legislation is pending, House Bill 19-1234, to allow licensed marijuana businesses to deliver both medical and adult use marijuana to private residences.

The measure would establish a licensing system for such delivery services and also require training for delivery permit holders.

CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis delivery services

Connecticut

Lawmakers in Connecticut have introduced a package of bills specific to legalizing and regulating the use and sale of marijuana by adults, and facilitating equity in the industry.

Senate Bill 1085 permits those age 21 and over to purchase and possess up to one and one half ounces of marijuana. The measure would also allow those with past marijuana possession convictions to petition the court to have their record expunged.

Separately, House Bill 7371 would establish a regulatory framework for the licensed retail sale of adult use marijuana.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Florida

Senate Bill 182 would re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

Update: SB 182 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/13 by a 101-11 vote. The bill will now be transmitted to the governor.

FL resident? Click here to email your governor in support of repealing the ban on smoking

Hawaii

Senate Bill 1353 seeks to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: SB 1352 was heard and unanimously approved by the House Committee on Agriculture on 3/13.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Louisiana

Legislation is pending, House Bill 59, to reduce marijuana possession penalties for first time offenders.

The measure removes the threat of jail time for first-time offenders who possess no more than 14 grams of marijuana (about half an ounce).

LA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions

Maryland

Legislation is pending, HB 33 / SB 893, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

Update: SB 893 was approved by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on 3/13.

MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

Minnesota

Legislation is pending, HF 766 / SF 1070, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

The measure would:

  • Authorize each dispensary to open four additional locations in specified areas throughout the state
  • Allow specific formulations of medical cannabis to be administered to qualified patients on school grounds

Update: HF 766 was heard by the House Commerce Committee on 3/12.

MN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Missouri

House Bill 341 would allow registered medical marijuana patients to have their records expunged if they were convicted of a possession offense that occurred prior to their participation in the state’s cannabis access program.

Update: HB 341 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/13 by a voice vote, and will now be transmitted to the Senate.

MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

Montana

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 176, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: SB 176 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on 3/21 at 3:00pm in room 137.

MT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

North Carolina

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 168, to expand the state’s medical CBD exemption law.

The measure expands the pool of individuals eligible for a medical CBD exemption to include those diagnosed with autism, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and Mitochondrial disease.

Update: S168 was heard and approved by the Healthcare Committee on 3/13.

NC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical CBD expansion

Nevada

Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 192, to allow individuals to get their records vacated for offenses that are no longer a crime in Nevada.

Update: AB 192 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on 3/19 at 8:00am.

NV resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, House Bill 481, to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants.

Update: HB 481 was heard by the House Ways and Means Committee on 3/14 at 11am. The committee will hold a work session on the bill on 3/18 at 1:00pm in Legislative Office Building 202.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 175, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

The measure would give doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe from its therapeutic use.

Update: SB 175 was heard by the Health and Human Services Committee on 3/12.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Legislation is pending, House Bill 459, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: HB 459 was unanimously approved by the House Environment and Agriculture Committee on 3/11.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

New Jersey

Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497: The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act would regulate adult use marijuana sales and also provide for the expungement of certain past records.

Update: S. 2703 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/18, and A. 4497 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18.

NJ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

S. 3205 / A. 4498, would make more crimes eligible for expungement — including offenses involving controlled dangerous substances — and cut the wait time down to five years. It also includes a “clean slate” process that will wipe away all offenses at once for anyone who has a clean record for 10 years after their last offense. Many more serious crimes would not be eligible.

Update: S. 3205 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/18, and A. 4498 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18.

NJ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

Senate Bill 10 and Assembly Bill 10 seek to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis.

The measure facilitates the expansion of additional medical cannabis growers and providers, while also expanding the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. It further expands the pool of licensed health professional who may recommend medical cannabis, and shields registered patients from employment discrimination and the loss of child custody. It also phases out retail sales taxes on medical cannabis, amongst other changes.

Update: A. 10 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18.

NJ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

New Mexico

Legislation is pending, House Bill 356, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.

A separate proposal is also pending to permit adult use marijuana sales, Senate Bill 577, with retail stores being regulated and operated by the state government as opposed to being privately operated.

Update: HB 356 was approved by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 3/9 by a 5-2 vote.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Senate Bill 406:

  • Allows medical practitioners to recommend medical cannabis for several new conditions, including PTSD, Parkinson’s, and severe chronic pain;
  • Prohibits employers from taking adverse action on an employee due to a positive drug test result or their status as a patient
  • Allows primary caregivers to obtain a license to grow medical cannabis;
  • Removes medical cannabis use as a violation of probation or parole;
  • Protects patients who require organ transplants

Update: SB 406 is scheduled for a hearing in the House State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee on 3/11.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 204, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

Update: SB 204 was heard and approved by the House Education Committee on 3/9. The bill was then unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on 3/11, and now heads to the governor’s desk.

NM resident? Click here to email your governor in support of allowing medical cannabis for patients at school

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 477, to protect the rights of parents and guardians who participate in the state’s medical cannabis access program.

The measure states that an individual’s status as a medical cannabis patient “shall not in itself constitute grounds for intervention, removal or placement into state custody of a child in that individual’s care.”

Update: SB 477 was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/11.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of parental protections

Legislation is pending, House Bill 581, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: HB 581 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 3/10, and will now be transmitted to the governor.

NM resident? Click here to email your governor in support of industrial hemp production

North Dakota

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1349, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with new federal hemp regulations.

Update: HB 1349 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on 3/22 at 8:30am.

ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Oklahoma

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2614, to amend the possession penalties for individuals who use cannabis for a qualifying condition, but are not in possession of a medical marijuana identification card.

The measure would reduce the penalty for this offense from a criminal misdemeanor to a citation, punishable by a maximum fine of $400.

Update: HB 2614 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/12, and now heads to the Senate.

OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of amending medical marijuana possession penalties

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 305, to protect registered medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination.

The measure would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume medical cannabis off-the-job in accordance with state law.

Update: SB 305 was approved by the Senate by a 35-12 vote on 3/14, and will now be transmitted to the House.

OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of employment protections

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 868 / House Bill 2628, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: HB 2628 was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on 3/12, and will now be transmitted to the Senate.

OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

South Carolina

H. 3660 / S. 366: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act would regulate medical cannabis distribution and access, but it prohibits the inhalation or smoking of herbal medical cannabis.

Update: S. 366 was heard in a Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee on 3/13, and is scheduled for another hearing in the subcommittee on 3/20 at 9:30am in Gressette Room 207.

SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

Tennessee

Legislation is pending, SB 357 / HB 844, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: HB 844 was approved by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on 3/13.

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Utah

Legislation is pending, House Bill 431, to allow those with certain misdemeanor cannabis convictions to have their records automatically expunged.

Update: HB 431 was heard and approved by the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee on 3/11. The bill was then approved by the Senate and will now be transmitted to the governor.

UT resident? Click here to email your governor in support of expungement

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 161, that would strengthen protections for medical cannabis patients, and make other technical changes to the state’s nascent medical cannabis access program.

The proposed changes:

  • Provide certain employment protection for a state or political subdivision employee who declines to participate in a job duty required by the state’s medical cannabis laws;
  • Repeal a provision allowing courts to discriminate against a parent based solely upon their lawful use of medical cannabis during a custody proceeding; and
  • Amend the decriminalization provision to include protections for parents and legal guardians of certain minor patients.

Update: SB 161 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/12, and will now be transmitted to the governor.

UT resident? Click here to email your governor in support of expanded medical patient protections

Vermont

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 58, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: S. 58 was heard by the Senate Committee on Finance on 3/13, but no action was taken on the bill yet.

VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Washington

Legislation is pending, SB 5605 / HB 1500, to allow individuals with prior misdemeanor cannabis convictions to apply to the sentencing court to have their record vacated.

Update: SB 5605 was approved by the Senate on 3/11 by a 29-19 vote. The bill will now be transmitted to the House.

WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of vacating past records

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 5276, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: SB 5276 was approved by the Senate on 3/12, and now heads to the House.

WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Categories: Blog Feeds

Minnesota: Attorney For State’s Largest County To No Longer Criminally Prosecute Marijuana Possession Offenses

NORML Blog - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:34

Minor marijuana possession offenders will no longer be criminally prosecuted in Hennepin County, Minnesota, according to a new policy announced Thursday by County Attorney Mike Freeman. An estimated 1.2 million people live in the County, which includes the city of Minneapolis.

Commenting on the new policy, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The Hennepin County Attorney is to be commended for taking this proactive stance. Branding individuals — many of whom are at an age when they are just beginning their professional careers — as lifelong criminals, and in some cases felons, for minor marijuana possession offenses results in a litany of lost opportunities including the potential loss of employment, housing, professional licensing, and student aid, and serves no legitimate societal purpose. This change is a recognition that marijuana criminalization is a disproportionate public policy response to behavior that is, at worst, a public health concern. But it should not be a criminal justice matter.”

Under the policy, prosecutors will not criminally charge anyone for marijuana offenses involving the possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis. Rather, defendants will be ordered to complete a diversion program or partake in community service. Under state law, marijuana possession offenses involving over 42.5 grams are classified as felony offenses – punishable by up to a five-year prison term and a $10,000 fine.

Under special circumstances, such as if the defendant possessed a firearm or is a habitual offender, prosecutors may still file criminal charges.

Freeman said the policy change was necessary because he believes that the state law is overly punitive and produces racial disparities in incarceration rates. “My job is to determine if people are charged and how to spend my resources,” Freeman said. “Spending resources on these cases is just wrong.”

The County Attorney for Ramsey County (population 500,000), which includes the city of St. Paul, enacted a similar policy earlier this year.

Similar actions have been taken in recent months by prosecutors in Baltimore, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Norfolk, among other metropolitan areas.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Oklahoma: Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Regulatory Measure

NORML Blog - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 09:25

Republican Gov. Ken Stitt signed legislation yesterday, HB 2612, clarifying regulations and patient protections specific to the medical use of cannabis. A majority of voters last June approved a statewide initiative authorizing the plant’s use, cultivation, and dispensing.

The new legislation codifies a new regulatory bureau, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, within the State Department of Health, establishes a registry for qualified patients and their caregivers, and establishes a revolving fund to address oversight matters.

It strengthens patient protections by explicitly stipulating that registered cannabis consumers may not be denied public assistance, access to firearms, or employment solely based on their patient status. It further states, “No employer may refuse to hire, discipline, discharge or otherwise penalize an applicant or employee solely on the basis of a positive test for marijuana components or metabolites.”

The bill seeks facilitate standards for banks who wish to partner with medical cannabis businesses, and prohibits local governments enacting “guidelines which restrict or interfere with the rights of a licensed patient or caregiver to possess, purchase, cultivate or transport medical marijuana.”

Members of the House voted 93 to 5 in favor of the legislation. Senate members voted in favor of the bill by a margin of 43 to 5.

An estimated 55,000 Oklahomans are registered with the state to access medical cannabis.

Categories: Blog Feeds

The Veterans Equal Access Act Reintroduced

NORML Blog - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 17:14

In the House, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a founder and co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, has reintroduced H.R. 1647, 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 this bill would lift this prohibition.

At the time of introduction, Rep. Blumenauer said, “For too long, our veterans have been denied access to highly effective medical marijuana treatment for conditions like chronic pain and PTSD. Medical marijuana has shown proven benefits for treating these conditions denying our veterans access to them is shameful. This simple bill would align veterans VA treatment with their very popular state laws, usually approved by the voters. This legislation would guarantee our veterans fair and equal treatment, along with the ability to consult with their own physician on all treatment options. It’s past time we provide them with the care they need and deserve.”

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of the Veterans Equal Access Act

In the 114th Congress, 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.

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 Post-traumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.

A recently released poll conducted by The American Legion showed that nearly 1 in 4 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition.

Our veterans deserve the option to legally access a botanical product that is objectively safer than the litany of pharmaceutical drugs it could replace.

Send a message now to your lawmakers

Categories: Blog Feeds

NORML Submits Public Comments To FDA Regarding The International Scheduling Of Marijuana

NORML Blog - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 16:13

The US Food and Drug Administration sought public comments specific to whether changes ought to be recommended regarding imposing international manufacturing and distributing restrictions, under international treaties, on certain drug substances.

Per the FDA: FDA, on behalf of the Secretary of HHS, invites interested persons to submit comments on the notifications from the United Nations concerning these drug substances. FDA, in cooperation with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will consider the comments on behalf of HHS in evaluating the WHO scheduling recommendations. 

Below is submission filed by Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML.

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Categories: Blog Feeds

Chicago NORML Goes To DC

NORML Blog - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 12:26

This year, on April 8th, the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) will be returning to our nation’s capital in Washington D.C. and playing a leading role in drafting policy agendas to ensure participation of people of color in the cannabis industry.

Chicago NORML is very excited to participate in the summit this year. As we continue our work with legislators, businesses, and our communities on cannabis reform and legalization here in Illinois, our attendance and participation in this summit is crucial.

We could use a little help getting there! Please make a donation which will help defray costs of sending us to this important high-level policy discussion and workshop. Make an investment in our work by donating what you can.

We expect to engage with industry leaders on important topics that will soon have a direct impact on our communities such as banking, taxation, criminal justice reform, and equity in ownership. Additionally, we expect to address how Federal measures such as Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, the RESPECT Act, and the States Act will affect us on the local level.

Never have we been so close to comprehensive reform in Illinois and it’s imperative that we get it right. Help us make legalization a reality in Illinois and ensure that it is done so in a way to build an economy that works for all of us.

Thanks for all you do,
Chicago NORML

 

You can find out more at www.chicagonorml.org and follow Chicago NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Bipartisan Bill To Protect Employment Rights

NORML Blog - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 10:15

The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act (HR 1687) is bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Don Young (R-AK) to explicitly bar federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a cannabis consumer, or due to testing positive for marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

Click here to send a message to your member of Congress and urge them to support this effort.

Enacted in 1986, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program made it a condition for employment that all civilian employees at executive branch agencies be prohibited from using federally illegal substances on or off duty. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 31 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, and 46 states have some form of medical marijuana law; however, it remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, federal employees can be denied employment or terminated due to testing positive for marijuana metabolites, even if their use is in compliance with state law. This conflict between state and federal laws limits treatment options and federal employment opportunities, particularly impacting veterans who comprise approximately one-third of the federal workforce and whose medical cannabis use to treat chronic pain and PTSD has been found to be double the rate of the general public. A recent American Legion poll found that one in five veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

“For our veterans’, cannabis has been shown to address chronic pain and PTSD, often replacing addictive and harmful opioids. At the same time, the federal government is the largest employer of our veterans’ community. This conflict, between medical care and maintaining employment, needs to be resolved,” said Congressman Crist. “For federal employees complying with state cannabis law, they shouldn’t have to choose between a proven treatment and their job.”

“I’m pleased to join Representative Crist in introducing this legislation today. I truly believe that this Congress we will see real reform of our nation’s cannabis laws – reform based on a states’ right approach,” said Congressman Don Young. “This bill would protect federal workers, including veterans, from discrimination should they be participating in activities compliant with state-level cannabis laws on their personal time. The last thing we need is to drive talented workers away from these employment opportunities.  As a Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus I remain committed to promoting this bill as well as other legislation to protect individuals and reform our federal cannabis laws.”

“The discriminatory practice of pre-employment drug testing for cannabis disproportionately hurts the ability for veterans and medical patients to achieve economic security and a feeling of self-worth,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “In order to protect the individual liberties of would-be employees and best position the federal government to attract top talent, the harmful ‘Green Box’ must be destroyed. The bipartisan nature of this effort and the bill’s sponsors underscore the absurdity of the status quo and we appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Charlie Crist and Don Young.”

Changes in the legal status of marijuana at the state level have not negatively impacted workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that the legalization of medical marijuana access 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.

Send a message to your Representative in support of this legislation now!

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Florida: State Lawmakers Vote to Restore Patients’ Right To Smoke Medical Cannabis

NORML Blog - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 09:52

On March 13, members of the Florida state House of Representatives voted 101 to 11 to approve legislation (Senate Bill 182) to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes. The bill was unanimously approved by the state Senate last week, and will now be transmitted to Governor Ron DeSantis.

Seventy-one percent of Floridians voted in 2016 to amend the state’s constitution to allow for the use of medical marijuana. These provisions explicitly protected the rights of patients to access herbal cannabis and placed no restrictions with regard to how they chose to consume it. But after the fact, lawmakers and former Governor Rick Scott, who now represents Florida as a member of the U.S. Senate, quickly moved to ban the practice legislatively. By contrast, newly elected Gov. DeSantis asked the legislature to change the law.

Under this proposal, patients would be permitted to possess up to four ounces of herbal cannabis. Patients under 18 will only be allowed to access herbal medical cannabis if they are terminally ill and receive approval by two doctors.

NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or restrict patients’ access to whole plant herbal cannabis. Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms do not benefit from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects.

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New York: State legislature signals support for adult-use cannabis legalization

NORML Blog - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 19:34

In news that bodes well for the future of cannabis legalization in the state of New York, both chambers of the state legislature have included legalization language in their annual budget proposals.

Both budget proposals also address the expedited expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions, implementing social equity programs in the state’s growing marijuana industry, and diverting tax money earned through the legal cannabis industry to benefit communities that have borne the brunt of the most brutal aspects of marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs in New York.

Though Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal does not allow for the personal cultivation of marijuana plants, the NY General Assembly’s budget proposal does promote home cultivation upon the legalization of adult-use and retail sale of cannabis in the state. If home cultivation is included in final legislation and is signed into law by the governor, New York would help reinvigorate legislative support for the practice, which has waned considerably in other east coast states that are exploring legalizing cannabis for adult-use.

The legal allowance of home cultivation in private residences is a core tenet of NORML’s Attributes of Adult Access Regulations. Read about home cultivation and our core tenets here.

Though it remains to be seen if the Empire State will legalize cannabis for adult-use in 2019, we cannot let up in our fight for the personal freedoms of New Yorkers. As always, we need your help to make sensible marijuana reform a reality in New York.

Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers in support of cannabis legalization in New York.

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Alaska: On-Site Marijuana Consumption Rules Finalized

NORML Blog - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:12

Lawmakers and regulators have signed off on new regulations explicitly permitting adults to consume cannabis at specially licensed retailers.

Under the new rules, which take effect April 11, licensed cannabis retailers may apply with state regulators for an additional “on-site consumption endorsement.” Local governments may challenge the applications in certain instances, or initiate a municipal vote to limit on site activities.

It is anticipated that the initial on-site consumption areas may be approved by this summer.

While some local municipalities — such as Denver, Colorado and West Hollywood, California — already regulate on-site consumption sites, Alaska is the first adult use jurisdiction to establish such regulations statewide.

“When these rules go into effect, Alaska will be the first state to finalize and approve statewide rules for on-site consumption. We expect more to follow suit in the not too distant future,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “Allowing social consumption is sensible from a business perspective, particularly for states with large amounts of tourists who otherwise have no place to legally consume, but it also has an important social justice component.”

“By preventing retail outlets and other venues from being licensed and regulated for social consumption, many patients will have to chose between effective cannabis treatment for their ailments or being thrown out of public housing,” Altieri continued, “This causes the civil liberties that come with marijuana legalization to still being kept at arms length from low-income individuals and members of other marginalized communities.”

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New Jersey: Adult-use legalization is closer than ever

NORML Blog - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 18:50

After months of negotiation, Governor Murphy and NJ state legislators have reached a deal on what will be included in upcoming legislation to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana in the state of New Jersey. Some highlights include expedited expungement for past misdemeanor marijuana convictions, a three-percent tax to be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist, and provisions to incentivize socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry.

Though this is a monumental step towards expanding personal freedoms for New Jerseyans, the fight is not over. The bill, yet to be released, still needs to garner enough support in the New Jersey state legislature in order to get to Governor Murphy’s desk. We need urgent action from New Jersey residents to make adult-use cannabis legalization a reality in the Garden State.

Click here to send an urgent letter to your state legislators in support of adult-use cannabis legalization in New Jersey.

New Jersey ranks second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color — who are arrested in New Jersey for violating marijuana possession laws at approximately three times the rate of whites — financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, and engenders disrespect for the law.

It’s time for New Jersey to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of its residents by joining the 10 states (and Washington DC) that have passed sensible marijuana reform.

Click here to send an urgent letter to your state legislators in support of adult-use cannabis legalization in New Jersey.

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New Model Ordinances Envisioned To Promote Small Businesses and Inclusivity

NORML Blog - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 09:51

This week, the Minority Cannabis Business Association unveiled their Municipal Ordinance model on how localities can administer new business licenses in a fashion that promote minority entrepreneurs and ensure that the emerging industry will not be dominated by a flood on new investors who have not been harmed by the consequences of prohibition.

As states continue dialing back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were most negatively impacted by our oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied as best as possible and be given the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation. With states beginning to define this new industry, the newly created licensing bodies should prioritize ease of access to the market for consumers and those who were previously targeted by anti-marijuana laws, in addition to supporting small businesses and diversity over corporate greed.

“The Model Ordinance is a statement from the communities we represent to the local lawmakers, regulators, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders who are building our nation’s cannabis industry one town at time–social equity is not only possible, it should be the industry standard moving forward. Our work gives those actors the tools they need to make equity a present reality in our industry rather than a lost opportunity,” said Khurshid Khoja, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee.

Communities of color have disproportionately suffered for decades because of our racist enforcement of marijuana laws and that must be addressed in the age of legalization through policies such as these equity programs and expungement of previous charges. Historically, African-Americans are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at nearly four times the rates of whites, yet both ethnicities consume marijuana at roughly the same rates.

Specifically, the American Civil Liberties Union report The War on Marijuana In Black and White (2013) concluded: “[O]n average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates. Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban and rural, wealthy and poor, and with large and small Black populations. Indeed, in over 96% of counties with more than 30,000 people in which at least 2% of the residents are Black, Blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession.”

“With this ordinance urban centers across the country will be able to access the economic opportunities created by equity programs and we look forward to supporting that work across the country,” Jason Ortiz, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee and Vice President of MCBA said of their new model ordinance.

You can find the MCBA Model Ordinance to share with your local lawmakers HERE.

You can find the NORML Factsheet on the racial disparity of cannabis criminalization HERE.

You can follow MCBA on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, plus learn more at https://minoritycannabis.org/

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