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Study: Cannabis Is Safe And Effective For Elderly Patients

NORML Blog - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 10:37

Cannabis therapy is safe and effective among elderly patients diagnosed with chronic pain, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Hebrew University and the Ben Gurion University of Negrev in Israel assessed the use of therapeutic cannabis over a period of six months in a cohort of 1,186 patients above 65 years of age. The majority of patients enrolled in the trial suffered from pain or cancer. Under an Israeli federal program, over 32,000 citizens are licensed to utilize cannabis therapy.

“After six months of treatment, 93.7 percent of the respondents reported improvement in their condition, and the reported pain level was reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0-10 to a median of 4,” researchers reported. The majority of respondents also reported “a significant improvement in [their] overall quality of life.”

Furthermore, over 18 percent of the study’s participants “stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their dose” – a result that led investigators to conclude, “Cannabis can decrease the use of other prescription medicines, including opioids.” Numerous prior studies, such as those compiled here, similarly show that pain patients typically mitigate or eliminate their opioid use during cannabis therapy.

The adverse effects most commonly reported by participants were dizziness and dry-mouth.

Authors concluded: “The older population is a large and growing part of medical cannabis users. Our study finds that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and efficacious in this population.”

Read the abstract of the study, “Epidemiological characteristics, safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in the elderly,” here.

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Illinois Bill Would Allow Patients to Substitute Medical Marijuana for Opiates

MPP Blog - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 14:13

Illinois State Sen. Dan Harmon is championing a bill that would allow individuals who are prescribed opioids to qualify for access to medical cannabis. His bill, SB 336, is expected to receive a hearing tomorrow in the Senate Executive Committee.

Hundreds of thousands of people are prescribed opioids in Illinois. These drugs carry a very high risk of dependency, and they can cause significant long-term harm including the risk of overdose death. Medical cannabis is now providing relief around the country and reducing incidents of drug ovedose deaths where it is available. But Illinois is one of only three medical marijuana states where pain patients don’t qualify, unless they have a specifically listed disease.

This bill would also take the sensible step of removing the requirement that medical cannabis patients submit fingerprints, provided they qualify under the new provisions. It is a huge first step for the many Illinoisans suffering unbearable pain every day.

If you are an Illinois resident, please tell your senator to support SB 336 and vote “yes” if it is placed before the senator for a vote.

The post Illinois Bill Would Allow Patients to Substitute Medical Marijuana for Opiates appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Be a Member of the Movement

NORML Blog - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 09:05

When NORML was founded in late 1970, only 12% of the country supported legalizing marijuana; 88% were opposed to our goals. After decades of hard work by thousands of committed advocates like you, we have gradually won the hearts and minds of a majority of the public. Today, over 60 percent of adults nationwide support ending marijuana prohibition and establishing a regulated market where consumers can obtain marijuana in a safe and secure setting.

We are certainly proud of the enormous progress we have made toward ending marijuana prohibition, especially the gains we have made over the last several years. Today, 30 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana; eight states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized the recreational use of marijuana. And we continue to add more victories each year.

But legalization in Colorado means nothing to those who are arrested for simple possession in Georgia, just as a robust medical program in California means nothing to the cancer patient in North Carolina.

So far this year, we are pushing for over 70 pieces of legislation and expect that number to easily eclipse 150 in the coming weeks.

This is why your support is more important than ever and to show it, we’re bringing back the NORML membership cards.

The goal at NORML is to achieve a policy under which responsible cannabis consumers are treated fairly in all aspects of their lives.

First and foremost, our mission is to reform state and federal marijuana laws to ensure that no adult will ever face criminal or civil penalties for the responsible consumption of marijuana and that all Americans have the ability to access cannabis for medicinal use if recommended by their physician.

However, just because more states have begun to legalize adult-use and medicinal marijuana doesn’t mean the fight is over; cannabis consumers are still being penalized and discriminated against in a number of ways.

We believe that:

It is wrong that consumers remain subject to job discrimination. Employers ought not to be able to fire employees solely for their off-job marijuana usage, just as employers are unable to sanction employees who consume alcohol after work or on the weekends.

Marijuana consumers must not be subject to over-regulation and excessive taxation. Marijuana consumers want a product that is safe, convenient and affordable. We want the marijuana to be tested in a state-certified lab to assure it is free of molds and harmful pesticides, and we want accurate labelling of the THC and CBD levels.

And parents all too often have to fight to maintain custody of their children. The mere fact that a parent chooses to consume marijuana must not be treated under the law as a presumption they are unfit parents.

And thousands of drivers are arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, simply because they tested positive for some small amount of THC in their system, without the slightest evidence they were driving while impaired. NORML opposes the imposition of these zero-tolerance per se traffic safety laws and is lobbying for their repeal.

So, as you can see, we still have lots of work ahead of us — even in those states that have enacted some form of marijuana legalization. “>Please join our fight today by becoming a card-carrying member of NORML.

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Status Report: The Impact Of Adult Use Regulatory Schemes

NORML Blog - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 14:32

The legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults is associated with a drastic reduction in overall arrests, increased tax revenue, and is not adversely impacting public health or safety, according to a comprehensive report issued by the Drug Policy Alliance.

Among the report’s highlights:

Marijuana arrests are down. Arrests for marijuana in all legal marijuana states and Washington, D.C. have plummeted, saving states hundreds of millions of dollars and sparing thousands of people from being branded with lifelong criminal records.

Youth marijuana use is stable. Youth marijuana use rates have remained stable in states that have legalized marijuana for adults age 21 and older.

Marijuana legalization is linked to lower rates of opioid-related harm. Increased access to legal marijuana has been associated with reductions in some of the most troubling harms associated with opioids, including opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders.

Calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency departments for marijuana exposure remain relatively uncommon.

Legalization has not made the roads less safe. DUI arrests are down in Colorado and Washington. The total number of arrests for driving under the influence, of alcohol and other drugs, has declined in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to regulate marijuana for adult use. There is no correlation between marijuana legalization and crash rates. The crash rates in both states are statistically similar to comparable states without legal marijuana laws.

Marijuana tax revenues are exceeding initial estimates.

The marijuana industry is creating jobs. Preliminary estimates suggest that the legal marijuana industry employs between 165,000 to 230,000 full and part-time workers across the country.

The full DPA report is available online here. Their findings are similar to prior reviews of the impact of adult use regulatory schemes on health and safety, such as this 2016 CATO Institute report.

NORML has similarly compiled fact-sheets of the most relevant peer-reviewed data addressing the impact of legalization on health, safety, and the economy here.

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Virginia Senate Unanimously Approves Limited Medical Marijuana Bill

MPP Blog - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 14:01

On February 5, the Virginia Senate unanimously passed legislation that will permit doctors to recommend CBD or THC-A oil to their patients for any diagnosed condition or disease. The companion bill passed the House of Delegates unanimously on Friday, and the bill will now go to Gov. Ralph Northam, who is expected to sign it.

This bill expands Virginia’s CBD oil law, which previously limited the use of CBD oil to cases of “intractable epilepsy” only. This bill represents a major expansion of that program, allowing doctors to determine whether CBD or THC-A oil is right for any given patient. This law will provide relief to thousands of patients in the commonwealth and could help curb the ongoing opioid crisis in Virginia. We applaud all of the activists and patients who worked diligently to see this moment.

The post Virginia Senate Unanimously Approves Limited Medical Marijuana Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Weekly Legislative Update 2/2/2018

NORML Blog - Fri, 02/02/2018 - 11:12

Welcome to the first NORML Legislative Roundup of 2018!

First, I’d like to highlight a key development at the federal level pertaining to established medical marijuana businesses and consumers.

The protections for lawful medical marijuana patients and businesses from the Department of Justice provided by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer budget amendment was temporarily extended through February 8th and we are working to ensure that it will be a part of any budget deal for the rest of the fiscal year. In the last week alone, NORML members sent thousands of messages to members of Congress and we plan to keep the pressure up. If you have not already, send a letter to your elected officials in support of extending these important protections.

At the state level, NJ  Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order calling on state regulators to review the state’s eight-year-old medical cannabis access program, and a Virginia House bill to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis law was unanimously approved by the House floor.

Additionally, at the state level, several marijuana-related bills are already dead for this session. These include two Virginia bills to decriminalize marijuana possession, as well as four Mississippi bills- one to decriminalize possession, two related to medical marijuana, and the last to license and regulate adult use marijuana.

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

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

Thanks for all you do and together we will win,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

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

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

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

New Mexico

Democratic state Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino pre-filed legislation, SJR 4, to legalize, tax, and regulate adult use marijuana in New Mexico.

Update: The Senate Rules Committee voted four to three to approve SJR 4 today. If approved by lawmakers, voters would then be asked whether they want the state to legalize marijuana on this year’s November ballot.

NM resident? Click here to email your elected officials telling them it’s time to legalize marijuana

Minnesota

Legislation is pending in the House and Senate, HF 927 and SF 1320, to legalize the personal use and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for those 21 and older, and establish a licensing scheme for its commercial production and retail sale.

MN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization

Maryland

Legislation is pending, SB 1027, to expand the state’s marijuana decriminalization law.

If passed, SB 1027 would amend penalties so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense. Under current law, the possession of more than ten grams of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the decriminalization law

Virginia

Senator Siobhan S. Dunnavant (R-12) introduced SB 726 to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis law. Delegate Benjamin Cline (R-24) has introduced companion bill, HB 1251.

The measures would permit doctors to recommend CBD and THC-A oils to any patient they believe would benefit. Under present law, only a neurologist may recommend cannabis oils, and only for patients with intractable epilepsy.

Update: SB 726 has reported out of committee and is awaiting a floor vote. House Bill 1251 was approved by the House today with a vote of 98 to zero.

VA resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to leave it up to the medical professionals

Iowa

Legislation is pending, SF 280 and SF 432, to amend marijuana possession penalties for first-time offenders.

Senate File 280 and SF 432 reduce criminal penalties for possession of 5 grams of marijuana or less from a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000, to a simple misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 30 days in jail and/or a $625 fine.

Update: SF 432 was approved on a voice vote by the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee and now awaits action on the Senate floor, and SF 280 has cleared a Republican-led subcommittee in the Senate.

IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reducing possession penalties for first time offenders

Additional Actions to Take

New York

Legislation is pending in both chambers, A. 9016 and S. 7564 to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, HB 1893, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

Update: HB 1893 was heard by HHS yesterday in the House.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana expansion

Pennsylvania

Democratic state Senator Anthony Williams has introduced Senate Resolution 258 to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

If passed, this resolution would urge Congress to take action to amend federal law so that states could regulate cannabis absent undue federal interference.

Update: A state Senate committee has unanimously approved the resolution to urge Congress to reevaluate marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I controlled substance and recognize marijuana’s medical purposes.

PA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of descheduling marijuana from the CSA

Arizona

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2144, to make Arizona a so-called ‘sanctuary state’ for licensed marijuana operators.

With US Attorney General Jeff Sessions having recently rescinded federal guidance memos protecting state-licensed, marijuana-related activity, passage of this legislation is more crucial than ever.

If passed, this bill would prevent the state from providing federal agents with the names, addresses and/or other related information pertaining to businesses that have been issued permits to grow, distribute and sell marijuana.

AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana protections

Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

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Maine: Marijuana Moratorium Measure Expires

NORML Blog - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 15:04

Emergency legislation enacted in January 2017 to delay the implementation of several provisions of Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act expired today. Proposed legislation in Maine’s House of Representatives to extend the moratorium until May 1, 2018 failed by a vote of 81 to 65.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who opposed Question 1, had demanded lawmakers seek a nearly one-year additional extension to the existing moratorium. In November, Gov. LePage vetoed legislation that sought to implement provisions in the Act regulating the production and retail sales of cannabis to adults.

Absent the passage of explicit legislation governing the licensed production and retail sale of marijuana, there still remains no legal way for businesses in Maine to legally grow or sell cannabis commercially. Provisions in Question 1 permitting the establishment of state-licensed social clubs for adult marijuana users also remain indefinitely on hold.

By contrast, language in the Act prohibiting employers from taking punitive action against personnel for their off-the-job use of cannabis is anticipated to now go into effect. Specifically, the initiative states, “A school, employer or landlord may not refuse to enroll or employ or lease to or otherwise penalize a person 21 years of age or older solely for that person’s consuming marijuana outside of the school’s, employer’s or landlord’s property.” While the language does not mandate employers to in any way accommodate employees’ marijuana use while on the job, nor does it permit employees to be at work while under the influence, it does limit the ability for an employer to discriminate against those who test positive on either a workplace or a pre-employment drug test. In preparation for this law change, the Maine Department of Labor has removed marijuana from the list of drugs for which an employer may test in its “model” applicant drug-testing policy, according to a January 30 report on the legal website Lexology.com.

Separate provisions permitting adults to possess and grow limited quantities of cannabis took effect early last year after action taken by the legislature.

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After Legalizing Possession, Some Vermont Lawmakers Moving to Regulate Marijuana

MPP Blog - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 13:56

Passage of Vermont’s legalization bill, H. 511, was a huge step forward for the state — and the nation. Now that Gov. Scott has signed this bill allowing personal possession and cultivation, effective on July 1, it’s time for the legislature to begin moving forward with plans to regulate and tax marijuana production and sale for adults 21 and older.

Some legislators who voted NO on H. 511 have already said that they support regulating and taxing marijuana. Others are reconsidering their positions now that it’s clear that marijuana will soon become legal. A bill on this issue, H. 490, is still active in the House after being carried over from last year.

The post After Legalizing Possession, Some Vermont Lawmakers Moving to Regulate Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Thousands Of Californians To Have Their Marijuana Convictions Dismissed

NORML Blog - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 10:43

San Francisco city officials announced plans yesterday to begin reviewing and automatically expunging thousands of past marijuana possession convictions.

The District Attorney’s office says that it will review, dismiss, and seal an estimated 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions dating back to 1975. The office also intends to review and resentence many past felony convictions.

Provisions in the state’s 2016 voter-approved marijuana law allow those with past marijuana convictions to petition the court for expungement. However, because this process that is often time consuming and can cost hundreds of dollars in legal fees, San Francisco’s D.A. George Gascón says that his office will instead “wipe out convictions en masse.”

Commenting on the policy change, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement, “This example, one of many across our state, underscores the true promise of Proposition 64 – providing new hope and opportunities to Californians, primarily people of color, whose lives were long ago derailed by a costly, broken and racially discriminatory system of marijuana criminalization.”

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano concurred, telling reporters: “The stigma associated with a marijuana arrest and criminal conviction is lifelong, and can directly lead to numerous lost opportunities later in life. The San Francisco District Attorney’s office is to be commended for proactively rectifying this situation — one that has disproportionately burdened far too many young people and people of color. Let’s hope other jurisdictions follow San Francisco’s lead in righting the wrongs of cannabis criminalization.”

Perhaps even more importantly, legislation now pending in the California Assembly, AB 1793, seeks to expand this automatic expungement process statewide. If you reside in California, please click here to use NORML’s Action Alert to urge your lawmakers to support this critical legislative effort.

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Maryland Begins Session With Marijuana Policy on the Agenda

MPP Blog - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 13:47

Maryland’s legislative session began earlier this month, and there are several cannabis policy issues already on the agenda. MPP and our allies in the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition are supporting an effort to let the people of Maryland decide whether the state should tax and regulate cannabis for adults.

Unlike many other states, Maryland citizens can’t collect signatures to put an issue on the ballot. In order for the people to vote on an issue, lawmakers must pass a bill that puts a constitutional amendment on the ballot. We hope that Maryland lawmakers will allow voters to put an end to the ineffective, costly, and unfair policy of cannabis prohibition and replace it with a system that allows adults to lawfully consume a substance that is safer than alcohol.

In other news, the legislative black caucus introduced a bill that would license additional businesses that could go to women and minority-owned businesses in light of a disparity study that found these groups were at a disadvantage in the licensing processes. And Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, has introduced bills that would expand Maryland’s decriminalization law, SB 127 and SB 128.

If you are a Maryland resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them you want the chance to vote on legalization this year.

The post Maryland Begins Session With Marijuana Policy on the Agenda appeared first on MPP Blog.

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West Virginia Considering Medical Marijuana Improvements

MPP Blog - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:28

The 2018 legislative session is underway in West Virginia, and several bills have already been introduced to make the medical cannabis program more workable and accessible for patients.

The two most important bills that have been introduced so far are HB 4147 and HB 4149. HB 4147 would require the state to begin issuing ID cards to qualified patients and caregivers in July of this year instead of waiting until July 2019. HB 4149 would allow patients to purchase cannabis flowers from dispensaries, rather than limiting patients to more expensive extracts.

If you are a West Virginia resident, please email your state legislators today and tell them patients can’t afford to wait another year and a half, and that they need access to whole plant cannabis.

The post West Virginia Considering Medical Marijuana Improvements appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Study: Marijuana Smoke Exposure Not Linked To Poor Lung Health

NORML Blog - Tue, 01/30/2018 - 10:34

Long-term exposure to cannabis smoke is not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function, according to clinical data published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases.

A team of investigators led by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health assessed the relationship between marijuana use and respiratory function and symptoms in a cohort of 2,300 subjects ages 40 to 80, many of whom also smoked tobacco.

Authors reported, “Neither current nor former marijuana use was associated with increased risk of cough, wheeze, or chronic bronchitis when compared to never marijuana users after adjusting for covariates. … Current and former marijuana smokers had significantly higher FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) … when compared to never users. … Both current and former marijuana use was associated with significantly less quantitative emphysema … when compared to never users, even after adjusting for age, … current tobacco smoking pack years, and BMI. … In agreement with other published studies, we also did not find that marijuana use was associated with more obstructive lung disease.”

The long-term combined use of tobacco and cannabis also was not found to be associated with any additive adverse effects on the lungs. Authors concluded, “Among older adults with a history of tobacco use, marijuana use does not appear to increase risk for adverse lung function. … There may be no to little increased risk of marijuana use for a further increase in respiratory symptoms or adverse effects on lung function among those with a history of concomitant tobacco use.”

Prior longitudinal studies assessing the effects of long-term cannabis smoke exposure on lung function have similarly reported that subjects’ marijuana use history is not positively associated with increased incidences of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, or with other significant detrimental effects on pulmonary function.

Full text of the study, “Marijuana use associations with pulmonary symptoms and function in tobacco smokers enrolled in the subpopulations and intermediate outcome measures in COPD Study (SPIROMICS),” appears online here.

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First Hand, “First-Timer” Lobby Day Recap

NORML Blog - Tue, 01/30/2018 - 06:27

On Sunday, January 21st & Monday the 22nd, NORML members along with non-member cannabis-reform-supporters gathered at the general assembly in Virginia for a Lobby Day. I [Nicole] was among the participants in this specific effort to advocate for marijuana legislative reform. Having lived in Virginia my whole life and being a current constituent of Representative Tim Hugo [R] and Senator David Marsden [D], this definitely felt like my call-to-action. This was my first time lobbying, and I am grateful my introductory experience was in support of sensible cannabis reform, something I so vehemently endorse on a personal level.

Our purpose in gathering was in order to influence, and essentially demand, lawmaker support for HB 1251, and SB 111. These legislative works would legalize medical cannabis oil under physician recommendation [to include all diagnoses, not just intractable epilepsy] as well as decriminalize simple possession charges, respectively.

If you have ever considered joining the marijuana movement, but don’t think you know enough to contribute effectively or even where to begin, never fear! On Sunday I was among numerous fellow supporters in attendance of a conference orchestrated by Virginia NORML’s Executive Director, Jenn Michelle Pedini. There, keynote speakers covered marijuana policy, how to effectively persuade with facts and knowledge regarding marijuana, and went on to take an in-depth look at how prohibition has negatively affected citizens and society. This abundantly informative and motivational colloquium couldn’t have prepared me more to speak with lawmakers and provided great relief to an otherwise intimidating situation. Let’s say hypothetically you have absolutely no interest in lobbying for marijuana reform. Attending the conference portion is still extremely enlightening, and I would recommend it to supporters and prohibitionists alike. A little extra knowledge never hurt anyone, right?

While at the capitol building, I had great conversations with both Rep. Tim Hugo and Sen. David Marsden. Although it was still a bit nerve-racking to be in front of these prestigious figures; I am confident that I was able to effectively communicate the message of necessary marijuana reform in conjunction with the legislation denoted above [greatly due in part to the preparation I received at the conference], and have gained their support on these issues. This has been an experience I will never forget, and I will be sure to seize the chance at every opportunity to do it again in the future. NORML lobby day in any state is the opportunity to affect change and be part of history. Please join us, and we can make it happen together!

Nicole Powell is a current intern at the National NORML office, as well as a current collegiate-level honors student. She has been “saved from a life of opioid drug abuse & dependence due to medical cannabis therapy” [to which she became at serious risk of after a major vehicular accident], in addition to the various other drastic medical benefits cannabis has provided to her after this accident.

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website: http://www.vanorml.org/

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Arguably The Individual Most Responsible For The Rise Of The Medical Marijuana Movement In California, And Eventually Nationwide, Passed Away This Weekend

NORML Blog - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 12:52

The individual most responsible for the medical marijuana movement in CA, and eventually in more than 30 states across this country, was San Francisco gay rights and marijuana advocate Dennis Peron, who died this past weekend from lung cancer at age 71.

Peron was drafted and sent to Vietnam in 1966, where he first discovered marijuana. When his tour of duty ended and he returned home, he also managed to bring two pounds of marijuana with him – starting a career that he later acknowledged would last more than 40-years. In the 1970s, he opened the Big Top, a café in San Francisco where marijuana was openly sold and customers could smoke and socialize. The café was eventually closed by San Francisco police, who arrested Peron on numerous occasions.

Peron was among the earliest marijuana and gay rights advocates to recognize that marijuana could provide relief to HIV-positive and AIDS patients. In 1991 he organized the nation’s first medical marijuana initiative, Proposition P,  approved by 80% of voters of San Francisco. Subsequently, he founded the nation’s first medical marijuana dispensary, the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club, where patients with HIV and other illnesses could openly buy, use and share marijuana.

The “buyers club” served as many as 11,000 patients before eventually being forced to close by the courts in 1998.

In 1996, with the help of Dale Gieringer and CA NORML, Peron organized the first state initiative to legalize medical marijuana, the Compassionate Use Act (Prop. 215), which went on to be approved by 56% of California voters. The favorable experience with medical marijuana in CA eventually led to the adoption of medical marijuana laws in an additional 29 states and growing.

But Peron’s influence went well beyond the medical use of marijuana. Of the 9 states that have now legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults, each one has first adopted the medical use of marijuana. Only after the states had grown comfortable with medical use, and had seen first-hand that marijuana was an important medicine that helped tens of thousands of seriously ill Americans, were they willing to move forward to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, regardless of why they smoked.

All of us who smoke marijuana, whether for medical or recreational use, are truly indebted to the courageous early work of Dennis Peron. Without his willingness to stand-up publicly and fight for the medical use of marijuana, despite it’s illegal status at that time, we would not be where we are today.

May he rest in peace

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54 Senators And Representatives To President Trump: Don’t Let Sessions Break Your Marijuana Promise

NORML Blog - Thu, 01/25/2018 - 16:39

On Wednesday, January 24th, fifty-four members of Congress representing both political parties sent a letter to President Trump denouncing the recent rescinding of the Cole Memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Led by Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Senate side and Representative Jared Polis in the House, the signers stated:

“These new policies have helped eliminate the black market sale of marijuana and allowed law enforcement to focus on real threats to public health and safety. This action by the Department of Justice has the potential to unravel efforts to build sensible drug policies that encourage economic development as we finally move away from antiquated practices that have hurt disadvantaged communities.”

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

The signers further pointed out the during the course of the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump declared that “we should leave (marijuana) up to the states.” You can read the full letter by clicking here.

At a time when the majority of states now are regulating marijuana use in some form, and when nearly two-thirds of voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or moral perspective for Attorney General Sessions to take this step.

It is great to see leaders like Senator Warren and Representatives Polis, Blumenauer, and others step up to demand action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and to end the needless criminalization of marijuana — a policy failure that encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.”

Should the Trump administration go through with a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana, they will be taking billions of dollars away from regulated, state-sanctioned businesses and putting that money back into the hands of drug cartels.

Send a message to your elected officials to speak out against AG Sessions. 

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Penalty Reduction Bill Introduced in Iowa

MPP Blog - Thu, 01/25/2018 - 13:41

The Iowa Legislature is back in session, and there is renewed hope for common-sense marijuana policy reform. Last week, a Senate subcommittee recommended passage of SF 432, a bill that would reduce the penalties for marijuana possession. The bill would change the penalty for first offense possession of marijuana under five grams from a serious misdemeanor to a simple misdemeanor.

The bill, though not perfect, would be a step in the right direction for Iowa. You see, the Iowa Legislative Services Agency studied the bill and reported that this reform would result in “considerable fewer jail admissions” and “savings to local governments.”

The fiscal note also detailed how marijuana prohibition disproportionately affects the African American community. In FY 2016, 18% of the persons convicted for first-offense marijuana possession were African American, yet African Americans only make up 3.5% of the Iowa population and have nearly equal marijuana usage rates as white Iowans.

If you are an Iowa resident, please ask your lawmakers to reduce the penalties for marijuana possession.

 

The post Penalty Reduction Bill Introduced in Iowa appeared first on MPP Blog.

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NORML Activists Take Marijuana Reform Fight to Harrisburg

NORML Blog - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 13:46

On Tuesday, January 24th, activists from a wide array of Pennsylvania NORML affiliates, allied groups, and state lawmakers took the fight for marijuana law reform to the state capitol building in Harrisburg.

The event co-sponsored by local NORML chapters, the ACLU-PA, and the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. Activists were joined by State Auditor General Eugene Depasquale and State Representatives Ed Gainey and Jordan Harris, and state Senator Sharif Street. The goal was to further the discussion on the full legalization of marijuana and to support legislation currently pending that would decriminalize marijuana possession statewide.

Watch the news coverage below:

Thanks to committed grassroots advocates, we are continuing to make progress nationwide. Get involved and help us relegate marijuana prohibition to the dustbin of history. Click HERE to take action on pending state and federal legislation, click HERE to find your nearest NORML channel and get involved, and click HERE to chip in $5 bucks or more to support NORMLs efforts.

Together, we WILL legalize marijuana.

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Massachusetts Bill Introduced That Protects Legal Marijuana Businesses

MPP Blog - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 13:28

In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind Obama-era guidance that protected legal marijuana businesses, legislators in Massachusetts have introduced a bill that would prohibit state and local police from participating in federal cases against people or licensed operators who follow state marijuana laws. The bill also serves as a response to the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, who declined to ensure that that his office would uphold the will of Massachusetts voters, calling marijuana a “dangerous drug” and refusing to limit potential prosecutions to illicit dealers.

The State Police and the Boston and Worcester Police Departments have indicated that they will not participate in federal interdiction, but other smaller departments may still be tempted by the prospect of receiving unencumbered funds from civil asset forfeitures. This legislation, if passed, will make it much more difficult for federal agents to disrupt state-legal commerce. Representatives Dave Rogers and Mike Connolly introduced the bill, calling it the “Refusal of Complicity Act.” According to Rep. Rogers, “We have a state law, it’s valid, and we think it should be respected. If federal law enforcement has something different in mind, they can use their own resources, because Massachusetts taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay to do something that goes against our laws.”

MPP’s Will Luzier, a leader of the Yes on 4 campaign, helped to conceive the bill. “I think it will help local law enforcement agencies to have clear parameters regarding their involvement with federal actions against lawfully permitted cannabis establishments,” said Jim Borghesani, an MPP spokesman.

The post Massachusetts Bill Introduced That Protects Legal Marijuana Businesses appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Jersey: New Governor Calls For ‘Patients First’ Expansion Of State’s Medical Cannabis Access Program

NORML Blog - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 13:00

Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Tuesday calling on state regulators to review the state’s eight-year-old medical cannabis access program and to recommend ways to increase participation from patients and physicians.

“Our goal is to modernize the program in New Jersey, bring it up to current standards, and put patients first,” he said.

The Governor’s order mandates state Department of Health and the Board of Medical Examiners to submit recommendations within 60 days on ways to improve the program.

Presently, only five dispensaries statewide are licensed to service an estimated 15,000 patients. Compared to other medical cannabis access states, New Jersey possesses among the lowest rates of participation among eligible patients and doctors. Retail costs for medical cannabis products are also among the highest in the nation.

If you reside in New Jersey, you can urge regulators to take actions to improve the state’s medical cannabis law by clicking here.

Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie routinely voiced his disapproval for the program, which was signed into law by his predecessor Jon Corzine, and he pushed for various rules and regulations to both delay and limit its implementation.

While campaigning for Governor, Murphy pledged to reform the state’s marijuana policies, and spoke in favor of legalizing adult marijuana use.

Again, if you live in New Jersey, take time today to tell regulators to put the interests of New Jersey’s patients first!

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Illinois Vows to Ignore Court Decision to Add Chronic Pain to Qualifying Conditions

MPP Blog - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 13:35

A court in Cook County, Illinois ruled last week that the Illinois Department of Public Health must add intractable pain as a qualifying condition to the state’s medical cannabis pilot program. Incredibly, the state has vowed to appeal the ruling and continue to shut pain patients out of the state program.

This is an outrage. A MoveOn.org petition is circulating that allows supporters to voice their opposition to the misguided decision by the state. If you agree the state should add intractable pain and want the state to drop its appeal plans, click here.

Patients and advocates have been working to add the condition to the state program since it went into effect in 2015. A panel of doctors and experts charged with considering new conditions voted unanimously to add pain, yet the health department refused to listen.

Even after a court reached the same conclusion, the health department continues to push back and deny access. As the nation struggles to bring a deadly opioid epidemic under control, medical cannabis should be an option for those who seek a safer alternative. Patients in Illinois should not be encouraged to seek relief from the underground market, when a regulated and tested alternative is available.

The post Illinois Vows to Ignore Court Decision to Add Chronic Pain to Qualifying Conditions appeared first on MPP Blog.

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