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Marijuana Legalization in NY & Driving: Response to NYS Association of Police Chiefs from Roc NORML

NORML Blog - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 11:38

The New York State Association of Police made a statement opposing legalization of cannabis for adult-use in New York, in response to Governor Cuomo’s announcement that he plans to pass legislation April 1st, with the budget, that will legalize cannabis for adult-use in New York. The New York State Association of Police said traffic safety is a major concern, citing an increase in vehicle-related fatalities by 62 percent in Colorado the first year cannabis was legalized in the state.

Roc NORML is the Rochester chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and we want to make sure the public is aware that statement is simply not true. Here are the number of vehicle-related fatalities, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation:

Year
Total Number of Vehicle Related Fatalities
% Change (+/-) from previous year
Notes 2002 743 2 years before medical legalization, the largest number of vehicle-related fatalities in the last 17 years 2003 641 1 year prior to legalization 2004 667 +4.1% Sales began January 1 2005 606 -9.1% 2006 535 -11.7% 2007 555 +3.7% 2008 548 -1.2% 2009 466 -15.0% 2010 450 -3.4% 2011 447 -0.1% 2012 474 +6.0%  Adult-use passes by ballot 2013 481 +1.5% 2014 488 +1.5%  Adult use-sales go into effect 2015 547 +12.1% 2016 608 +11.2% 2017 648 +6.7% 2018 620 -4.3%  Four years into adult-use sales, net fatalities below 2002 despite rise in population and increased miles traveled Total % change from pre-legalization (2003) until 2018 = -3.3% Total % change from pre-legalization (2003) until 5 years post (2009) = -27.3%

Source: Colorado Department of Transportation

At the same time, we should also acknowledge the overall population in Colorado has increased significantly, an increase of 13.2% as estimated by the US Census. Furthermore, when we look at states that haven’t legalized cannabis for adult-use, take Alabama for example, we see similar trends related to number of vehicle related fatalities.

The conclusions we can draw from this data are as follows:

  • – Legalization does not lead to a decrease in road safety, and the argument can even be made, with this data, that roads become more safe after legalization;
  • – We need to approach this topic in the same way we approach any other substance that doesn’t have a biological field sobriety test associated with it, like Ambien or Xanax, and we need to put responsibility in the hands of the consumer and expect them not to operate a motor vehicle if they are intoxicated from the substance; and
  • – As advised by the American Automobile Association (AAA), we urgently need more research, and we shouldn’t put arbitrary “per se” driving limits for the presence of THC, as they improperly classify motorists who are not behaviorally impaired.

While we can understand law enforcement’s hesitancy to embrace legalization after their efforts against the plant during the War on Drugs, we want to urge them to consider the benefits we’ve seen in other states that have legalized. Most notably, law enforcement from those states have increased the rate at which they solve more serious crimes, like automobile theft and assault, as well as an overall decrease in serious crimes, like murder and rape.

Roc NORML is dedicated to educating the public about the benefits of responsible cannabis use and we look forward to continuing these conversations with local law enforcement. Please visit www.rocnorml.org for more information about how you can get involved and follow ROC NORML on Facebook and Twitter.

You can read more about marijuana and psychomotor performance on NORML’s factsheet here.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Urge Kentucky Lawmakers to Support Medical Cannabis Reform Today!

NORML Blog - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 10:03

 A medical cannabis bill has been filed in the Kentucky General Assembly every year since 2013. In that time around a dozen other states have passed medical bills, eight more have joined Colorado and Washington in full legalization. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump have voiced support for state governments deciding their own policies.

Nearly 80 percent of Kentuckians support medical marijuana., according to a 2012 study issued by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. So, in seven years why hasn’t Kentucky moved forward?

Cannabis reform has stalled recently because of opposition from Kentucky’s Senate leadership. Their opposition shouldn’t be the final word. Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says more research is needed, while state Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, erroneously compared cannabis to “snake oil remedies of the 1800s,” according to a WDRB-TV report.

It’s understandable lawmakers want reliable data before making a decision. The good news for Kentucky legislators is the data already is available.  The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more than 26,000 published studies/reviews across 24 databases regarding cannabis available to read online. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has summarized a group of FDA approved randomized clinical trials, finding evidence for cannabis as medicine. The organization concluded marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance is an obstacle to further research.

Kentucky’s Senate leader has taken a contradictory stance.  Stivers has requested studies from the American Medical Association or Johns Hopkins University, but he should know he is asking for research prohibited by cannabis’s Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

This should bring advocates and opponents alike together on the issue. We can all agree on objective scientific data.

I invite Stivers, Bentley, and others asking for more research to join their voices with ongoing bipartisan efforts to reschedule cannabis.  If the state Senate won’t get behind rescheduling cannabis, they are effectively asking to see research that can’t be conducted under federal law.

Sadly, it seems Stivers already has an answer for would-be medical cannabis patients.

“Have a bourbon,” he told the Courier-Journal.

Are we going to see the studies proving bourbon can provide the same relief cannabis can?

Stivers’ tasteless quip – or even more tasteless sales pitch -reveals a flippant disregard for the issue.  A 2016 study publishedin the Journal of School Health concluded alcohol use should be a target of school abuse prevention programs. The study cited alcohol as a more likely gateway to hard drug use.  The negative effects of alcohol abuse, both on the user and their loved ones, are well documented, so it’s odd Stivers and the Kentucky Senate lack the same concern for data and safety when it comes to alcohol.

A January 2017 review of trials by the National Academy of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering found conclusive evidence supporting cannabis use for the treatment of chronic pain.  The Journal of Clinical Oncology in a 2018 study found medical cannabis use provided a 41 percent reduction in opioid use, which signals a potential solution for our Kentucky’s opioid crisis that desperately needs to be addressed before more Kentuckians die at the hands of these powerful drugs that often are legally prescribed.  Are there studies showing the same potential in bourbon?

This isn’t a call to shift discussion towards prohibiting alcohol. We long ago rightly decided to allow adults to make a free decision to imbibe or not.  Kentucky’s Senate is steadfastly hesitant to allow a similar decision regarding medical cannabis even among doctors and their patients who could benefit from this medicine.

The best rebuttals some of our Senate has to voice in response to Kentucky’s seventh medical cannabis bill are juvenile attempts at humor and dismissals of the data at hand. The discussion must progress beyond verbal jabs and dismissiveness.

It can if more Kentuckians rally behind two pieces of Republican-sponsored legislation in the 2019 session of Kentucky General Assembly that kicked off Jan. 8 – state Rep. Jason Nemes’ Let Doctors Decide medical marijuana bill (HB 136), Sen. Dan Seum’s Responsible Adult-Use Bill (SB 80), Sen. Jimmy Higdon’s Cannabis Decriminalization (SB 82), and Sen. Perry Clark’s “Shauna’s Laws, which provides workplace protections (SB 83).

Seven years have passed and 33 states now have medical cannabis systems in place. It is time for Kentucky to join the discussion and catch up with the rest of America.

Call 800-372-7181 and tell your legislators to support cannabis reform this session and join us on February 6th at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort from 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm EST for a Rally for Reform!

KY NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to influence legislators for the expansion of our hemp industry, implementation of medicinal cannabis, and laying the foundation for responsible adult use.

To support KY NORML you can DONATE HERE or purchase some of our apparel below! Your donations help pay the bills and allow us to function and continue to make a difference in our state! Can you kick in $5, $10 or $20 to help us keep going

Looking to help in a more direct way? We are always looking for people to help out with any number of tasks! CONTACT US and tell us about yourself and what your talents are!

 

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/25/19

NORML Blog - Fri, 01/25/2019 - 13:50

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

U.S. Representatives Lou Correa (D-CA) and Clay Higgins (R-LA) and Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) introduced legislation this week, HR 712 / S. 179: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2019 to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans.

At the state level this week, activists gathered in Denver in conjunction with Colorado and Denver NORML chapters to lobby their state lawmakers in favor of  workplace drug testing reforms, social consumption, parental protections and expanding access to the state’s medical cannabis program.

Opioid dependency was added to New Jersey’s list of conditions for medical cannabis eligibility.

And a North Dakota bill to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes was defeated in a Senate committee this week.

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

Regulate Nationally: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 — (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Click here to email your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Arkansas

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1150, to expand the state’s nascent medical cannabis access law.

The measure expands the pool of applicants eligible for medical cannabis by allowing physicians to recommend it to those with a wide array of conditions, including asthma, ADHD, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury, among other diagnoses.

Update: HB 115 was heard by the House Rules Committee on 1/23, but no action was taken on the bill.

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

Florida

Democratic State Senator Bill Montford re-introduced Senate Bill 384, which would allow qualified patients to use medical cannabis while in school.

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis at school

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, House Bill 708, to legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of small amounts of marijuana for adults.

The measure would allow adults 21 and over to purchase one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six cannabis plants in their own home.

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

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

The proposed changes:

  • Expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients;
  • Allows licensed dispensaries to possess up to two additional manufacturing or processing facilities separate from their production facilities; and
  • Allows licensed dispensaries to sell edible cannabis and cannabidiol products

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

House Bill 698  would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis for autism

Legislation is pending, House Bill 131 / Senate Bill 1335, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

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

Colorado

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

Update: The House Committee on Health & Insurance referred the bill unamended to the Committee of the Whole, meaning the bill will now be considered by the full House.

CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis for autism

Iowa

Legislation is pending, Senate File 71, to allow medical cannabidiol (CBD) to be administered to patients at school.

IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical CBD at school

Legislation is pending, SF 77, to expand access to certain medical cannabis products in Iowa.

The proposed changes:

  • Allow physicians to recommend low-THC medical cannabis oil to any patient whom they believe will benefit from its therapeutic use; and
  • Raises the cap on THC limits from three percent to 13 percent.

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

Minnesota

Legislation is pending, HF 265, to permit a public vote on the question of legalizing adult marijuana use.

The measure proposes the following question on the 2020 ballot to voters:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to allow a person who is 21 years of age or older to personally possess, use, and grow cannabis and to possess cannabis-infused products, and to require the legislature to prescribe by law a manner to license and regulate the commercial sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products?”

MN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of letting the voters weigh in on legalization

Missouri

Legislation is pending, House Bill 551, to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana for adults 21 and over.

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

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 261, to protect medical cannabis patients who require Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.

Under this proposed measure, “applicants or recipients who test positive for marijuana consumed lawfully pursuant to the Missouri Constitution shall not be declared ineligible for TANF benefits on the basis of that consumption.”

MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protections for needy patients

Legislation is pending, House Bill 567, to protect the rights of prospective parents looking to adopt children.

The measure would prohibit the government from denying prospective parents the opportunity to adopt a child based solely on their status as a medical cannabis patient or as an employee in the medical cannabis industry.

MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protecting prospective parents

North Dakota

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1417, to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.

The proposed changes:

  • Expands the pool of eligible patients by permitting providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with neuropathy; opioid use disorder; opioid withdrawal; migraine; rheumatoid arthritis; and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
  • Allows physicians to explicitly authorize select patients to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis than are generally allowed under the law.

Update: HB 1417 was heard by the Human Services Committee on 1/23, but no action was taken on the bill.

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

Nebraska

Legislation is pending, LB 657, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

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

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: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is holding a hearing on HB 481 on 2/5.

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

Legislation is pending, House Bill 399, to permit those convicted of past marijuana offenses to seek an expungement of their criminal records.

If passed, HB 399 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana.

Update: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee approved HB 399 by a 18-2 vote on 1/22.

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

New Mexico

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

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

Virginia

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1557, to expand the state’s low-THC medical cannabis oil program.

The measure would allow Virginia’s licensed practitioners to recommend and pharmaceutical processors to dispense full therapeutic-strength medical cannabis oil.

Update: SB 1557 was unanimously approved by the Senate Health and Eduction Committee on 1/24, and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

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

Senator Glen Sturtevant filed SB 1632 and Delegate Chris Hurst filed HB 1720, which seek to permit any student who is a registered Virginia medical cannabis patient to use Virginia-allowed medical cannabis oil on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity.

Update: SB 1632 was unanimously approved by the Senate Health and Eduction Committee on 1/24, and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis at school

Washington

Legislation is pending in the House and Senate, HB 1131 / SB 5155, to allow adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home.

Update: The House Committee on Commerce & Gaming heard HB 1131 on 1/21, but no action was taken on the bill. Separately, SB 5155 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce at 8:00 AM on 1/31.

WA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of home cultivation rights

That’s all for this week! Check back next Friday for more legislative updates.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Bicameral Legislation To Force The VA To Conduct Research

NORML Blog - Thu, 01/24/2019 - 17:02

Representatives Lou Correa (D-CA) and Clay Higgins (R-LA) and Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) have introduced legislation, HR 712 / S. 179: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2019 to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans.

The legislation “would direct VA to conduct clinical research with varying forms of medicinal cannabis to evaluate the safety and effects of cannabis on health outcomes of veterans with PTSD and veterans with chronic pain.”

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and encourage them to cosponsor the bill. 

This legislation is similar, yet stronger, to a bill by the same name that successfully passed the House Veterans Affairs Committee last year yet was denied consideration by the full House of Representatives by Republican congressional leadership.

Upon introduction, Rep. Lou Correa said, “Last year my bill became the first cannabis bill to pass the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. This year I will work to make this the first veterans cannabis bill to pass the House. The momentum, support, and dedication are there. We need to get this done for our veterans. With the opioid crisis raging across America, it is imperative to the health and safety of our veterans that we find alternative treatments for chronic pain and service-related injuries.”

According to nationwide survey data conducted by The American Legion in 2017, 39 percent of respondents affirmed that they “know a veteran” who is using the plant medicinally. Furthermore, twenty-two percent of respondents said they themselves “use cannabis to treat a mental or physical condition.”

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and encourage them to cosponsor the bill. 

Categories: Blog Feeds

Colorado NORML and Denver NORML Host Citizen Lobby Day to Push for Consumer Protections

NORML Blog - Thu, 01/24/2019 - 16:29

With Colorado lawmakers convening for their seventh legislative session since voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 64, which ended the prohibition of marijuana in 2012, marijuana law reform advocates from several organizations coordinated a citizen lobby day to push for workplace drug testing reforms, social consumption, parental protections and expanding access to the state’s medical marijuana program.

During a recent interview with the Westword, Ashley Weber, executive director of Colorado NORML shared a few tips for marijuana law reform advocates who want to get involved in the legislative process: “It’s about getting to know your representatives, and writing them daily if something’s important. Make appointments, become an acquaintance with them.”

Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition. Sixty-six percent of US adults believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to national survey data compiled by the Gallup. The percentage is the highest ever reported by Gallup, which has been tracking Americans’ views on the subject of marijuana legalization since 1969.

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more information follow Colorado NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website!

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

Virginia Medical Cannabis Bills Clear Senate Committee

NORML Blog - Thu, 01/24/2019 - 14:43

Three medical cannabis bills cleared the Senate Committee on Education and Health this morning and are headed to the Senate floor.

Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s SB1557 would clarify last year’s landmark Let Doctors Decide medical cannabis legislation. It seeks to redefine allowed dosage limitations and formulations, and expand patient access and reduce patient cost by adding nurse practitioners and physician assistants to the list of those authorized to issue written certifications to patients. Currently, only physicians may register with the Department of Health Professions to issue certifications.

“Last year we passed unanimously the historic Let Doctors Decide bill that expanded patient access to our medical cannabis program,” said Senator Dunnavant, a medical doctor from Henrico. “We got a lot of things right, but there are some screws that can be tightened so the law better benefits the health and well-being of all Virginians.”

The bill would also allow Virginia’s licensed pharmaceutical processors to dispense medical cannabis preparations beyond the current definition of “oil” and in doses proven effective for the variety of disease processes for which doctors will recommend these therapies. Pharmacists at these facilities would be allowed to compound creams, sprays, capsules, suppositories, lozenges, and other preparations typically dispensed at compounding pharmacies.

Senator Glen Sturtevant’s (R-10) SB1632 seeks to allow medical cannabis administration on school property and at school events.

“Virginia students and their families depend on new, safely produced and regulated cannabidiol and THCA oils to treat a host of potentially debilitating conditions. However, current laws cause significant burdens for families who need to provide these medications to their children, and cause serious disruptions every single day at school for students” said Senator Glen Sturtevant.

”This bill would authorize the Department of Health Professions and school boards to adopt the necessary policies for school nurses to administer these medications just like other medications administered to students, like antibiotics and Advil. This streamlined approach will keep kids in school and reduce classroom disruptions so that students can focus on their academic success.”

Colorado, Illinois, and Florida allow school nurses to administer medical cannabis to students. Delaware, Maine and New Jersey allow medical cannabis use at school, Washington allow schools to create their own policies, and West Virginia directed education officials to create rules for use at school.

Delegate Chris Hurst’s (D-12) companion legislation, HB1720, is before the House Courts of Justice Committee, which will decide the fate of the bill Friday afternoon.

Senator Dave Marsden’s SB1719 would allow “registered agents” for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities and those who rely on home healthcare providers.

“Patient access is critical to the success of Virginia’s medical cannabis program,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “These bills help ensure that all patients are able to obtain and use the necessary therapeutic doses of their cannabis medicines regardless of location or physical ability.”

Track these bills and all marijuana-related legislation in the 2019 General Assembly here.

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

Rep. Blumenauer: Now more than ever, it’s our time

NORML Blog - Tue, 01/22/2019 - 09:01
Earl Blumenauer is a member of Congress representing Oregon’s 3rd district

Nearly my entire career as a public servant, I’ve been proud to work with NORML to build understanding and consensus on the need for cannabis reform since 1973. While I was serving as a state legislator, my home state of Oregon became the first in the nation to decriminalize simple possession.

Today, I am happy to report that our movement is cresting.

As many of you know, two years ago we launched the Cannabis Caucus, a first of its kind to create a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws and two weeks ago, we were proud to add Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) as co-chairs to our growing group.

But we still have a long way to go and with your help, we will continue to expand our ranks and achieve tangible reform in this Congress.

Will you send a letter to your member of Congress and ask them to join me as a member of the Cannabis Caucus?

Congress is out of step with the American people on cannabis when national support for federal marijuana legalization is at an all-time high. We saw that clearly with several states moving toward legalization last November and a midterm election that resulted in the most outspoken and anti-prohibitionist group of freshman representatives in our nation’s history.

In the last session of Congress, NORML hosted a number of events in cooperation with our Cannabis Caucus, including regular policy briefings and bringing in unique perspectives such as travel writer Rick Steves, former US Attorneys Barry Grissom and Bill Nettles, and victims of criminalization as part of the inaugural Caucus event entitled “The Faces of Prohibition.” Additionally, in a strong demonstration of grassroots advocacy, hundreds of NORML members who traveled from all around the country to meet with their federal officials moved us ever closer to our goals.

I have always been able to count on my friends at NORML to be there through thick and thin and that is why I need you to contact your member of Congress and ask them to join me in finding sensible solutions to end marijuana criminalization.

Then take the next step and share the tool for your friends and neighbors to add their voice to yours on Facebook and Twitter.

We still have much work ahead of us but together we will win, of that I am certain.

Courage,
Earl

 

 

 

 

 

Congressman Earl Blumenauer

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/18/19

NORML Blog - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 15:48

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

U.S. Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) this week introduced HR 493: The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act, which would codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo.

Additionally, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. House lawmakers introduced The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019 (HR 601), to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis.

At the state level, patients in Ohio and Oklahoma now have access to medical cannabis, as sales began in both states this week.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York and Governor Gina Raimondo (D) of Rhode Island both included plans for cannabis legalization as a part of their budget proposals in their respective states.

A medical cannabis access bill was signed into law in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, a decriminalization bill was defeated in the Virginia House this week.

At a more local level, Westchester County, New York’s district attorney will no longer prosecute low level cannabis possession cases; Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin approved two different advisory questions to appear on an April ballot; and Oklahoma City public schools will now allow students to be administered medical cannabis by a caregiver while at school.

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

Priority Alerts

Federal

Regulate Nationally: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 — (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Click here to email your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, House Bill 5595, to permit the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for adults 21 and over.

The measure allows adults to cultivate up to six cannabis plants in their own homes; provides for the expungement of prior cannabis possession convictions; and allows for home deliveries.

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

West Virginia

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2331, to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults.

The measure would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use, but it would give localities the authority to restrict or ban the retail sale and production of cannabis through county referenda.

WV resident? Click here to urge your lawmakers to amend this bill to benefit all consumers

Washington, DC

Legislation is pending, The Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act, to permit the retail sale of cannabis to adults in the District.

The measure allows those 21 and over to legally purchase personal use quantities of cannabis from licensed retail outlets.

DC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of retail sales

Indiana

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1540, to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The measure would impose a class C infraction for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, which translates to a civil penalty punishable by a fine between $100 and $200.

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

Nebraska

Senator Anna Wishart (D) has re-introduced legislation, LB 110, to allow qualifying patients with certain debilitating conditions to use and safely access medical cannabis.

If passed, this bill provides registered patients with regulated access to medical cannabis via licensed providers.

Update: LB 110 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Comittee at 1:30pm on 1/25/19 in the Warner Chamber.

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

Washington

Legislation is pending in the House and Senate, HB 1131 / SB 5155, “Allowing residential marijuana agriculture.”

This bill allows adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home.

Update: HB 1131 is scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Commerce & Gaming at 8:00am.

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

Kentucky

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon introduced Senate Bill 82, to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The measure would impose a civil penalty for any “personal use quantity”of cannabis, punishable by a $100 fine.

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

Legislation is pending, House Bill 136, to permit physicians to authorize access to medical cannabis for any patient whom they believe would benefit from its therapeutic use.

The measure allows registered patients to use, possess, and cultivate specified quantities of medical marijuana.

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

Iowa

Legislation is pending, Senate File 1012, to amend marijuana possession penalties for first-time offenders.

Senate File 1012 reducea 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.

Criminal penalties for all subsequent offenses would remain unchanged under these legislations.

IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of a first time penalty reduction

Oklahoma

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.

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

Legislation has been introduced in Oklahoma, Senate Bill 325, to restrict access to medical cannabis in the state.

The measure would allow counties within Oklahoma to hold a referendum on whether or not to restrict or ban the production and sale of medical cannabis in their jurisdiction.

OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in opposition to restricting medical access

Alaska

Senator Tom Begich has re-introduced legislation, Senate Bill 8, to seal the convictions of past marijuana possession offenders.

The measure prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law.

AK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of record sealing

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, House Bill 37, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis in place of opioids

Florida

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 372, to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis inhalation rights

North Dakota

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1417, to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.

The proposed changes:

  • Expands the pool of eligible patients by permitting providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with neuropathy; opioid use disorder; opioid withdrawal; migraine; rheumatoid arthritis; and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
  • Allows physicians to explicitly authorize select patients to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis than are generally allowed under the law.

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

Arkansas

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1150, to expand the state’s nascent medical cannabis access law.

The measure expands the pool of applicants eligible for medical cannabis by allowing physicians to recommend it to those with a wide array of conditions, including asthma, ADHD, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury, among other diagnoses.

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

Colorado

Legislation is pending in Colorado that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis.

Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.

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

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

Other Actions to Take

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, House Bill 5442, to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis in Connecticut.

The measure would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis by allowing physicians to recommend it to those with generalized chronic pain.

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

Arizona

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2387, that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis.

The measure would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

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

New York

Legislation to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana for dogs, cats and other pets in New York State is pending in the Assembly (A. 970) Health Committee. The bill would allow veterinarians to recommend marijuana for our furry companion animals.

NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expanding medical access to pets

Mississippi

Legislation is pending, House Bill 625, to establish an industrial hemp pilot program to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

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

Washington

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.

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

Wyoming

Legislation is pending, House Bill 171, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

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

Florida

Legislation is pending, H. 333, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

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

That’s all for this week!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Marijuana is a Medicine, Not a Menace

NORML Blog - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 14:00

I am delighted to report that more and more government officials are promoting sanity in pot laws. Cannabis crosses political parties and generational lines.

Good weed gets you high whether you think the last attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was a Neanderthal or you think Beto O’Rourke should be the next Democratic presidential candidate, which I do.

I was right 50 years ago when I said as a Hofstra University college student on Hempstead, Long Island in New York in 1969 that pot should be legal. A half century later,  I am still correct. Only the weed is a lot better.

Over the years, I have learned that if a man stands his ground, and there abides, the whole world will eventually come around to him. Today, in 2019, 65 percent of America and apparently 84 percent of Wilton Manors agrees with me.

The legitimate powers of government should reach no further than controlling acts which are injurious to others. Freedom means having the right to be stupid, whether your parents or partners approve or not.

As Thomas Jefferson once said, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Pot never should have been criminalized. Outside of making North Dakota a state, locking people up for smoking weed was one of the dumbest things our government has ever done.

In Florida, our new Commissioner of Agriculture is Nikki Fried, a Jewish woman and law graduate who will give new meaning to the High Holy Days. She supports the legalization of marijuana.

Nikki has said she will be appointing a statewide Director of Cannabis to her agency. Man, I have held that position my whole life. Weed makes everything better, from sex to food to reading SFGN.

More seriously, on the right side of the aisle, cannabis has found surprising supporters. Importantly, in Florida there are people like Congressman Matt Gaetz, a northwest Florida Republican who I would ordinarily have nothing in common with, outside of sports and fast cars.

However, Gaetz is amongst a cadre of Republicans, like the former speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, who have actively promoted a new direction for federal marijuana policy. Damn, it’s about time.

Congressman Gaetz has already partnered with newly elected and young Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York State, to revise the Neanderthal laws.

Last year, when Attorney General Sessions called for a crackdown on cannabis, Gaetz stated it was a “cruel plan that harms some of our most vulnerable fellow Americans. I have seen children who have been helped by medical marijuana when all other treatments have failed. Some have gone from surgeries and seizures to baseball games and homecoming dances.” He’s right.

Cathy Jordan has suffered from ALS since 1986. When I met her back then, she was given 3-5 years to live. Along with the power and love of her devoted husband, smoking medical marijuana has kept her alive.

When Elvy Mussika was acquitted of growing pot in her Hollywood backyard in 1988, she was nearly going blind from glaucoma. The THC in cannabis reduced the intraocular pressures in her eyes, and thirty years later, she can still see.

Right now, despite 32 states moving in an opposite direction, cannabis is still regulated as a “Schedule 1 drug.” This means that the regulated substance has “no medicinal value.” Come on, we all know better by now, especially all those bar and restaurant workers that hang out after work in the alleyway by the Alibi in the Manors.

Encouragingly, the new nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, also stated in his confirmation hearings yesterday that he would support a continuation of the Obama Era regulatory guidelines.

These rules allow those states that have invested in medicinal marijuana laws to continue to rely on the rules generated by previous attorney generals. This allows dispensaries operating in those states to continue to run their business without fear of being raided or shut down.

Florida residents also passed a constitutional amendment to provide for medical marijuana two years ago. The regulatory system is flawed, and Florida’s new governor has said he will fix it. Now would be a good time.

Unfortunately, the first week in office for Ron DeSantis presented no encouragement. His legal team went into the Court of Appeals and argued that the legislative ban on smoking marijuana be upheld.  His actions make his campaign promise hollow.

A Leon County Circuit judge had previously struck down the smoking ban, but the decision was stayed after the State of Florida appealed. DeSantis could have made history by killing the appeal. He did not. He made the argument for maintaining it.

During the oral arguments last week in Tallahassee, an appellate panel of judges interrogated Florida officials about whether the legislature had not usurped the will of our citizens by using its political veto power to override an amendment its citizens overwhelmingly supported.

The Department of Health told the judges that since smoking causes cardiovascular and respiratory health problems, the Florida legislature could limit delivery methods to protect the public. I call BS on that.

It does not matter what side of the political aisle you are on, Americans have learned that cannabis is a cure, not a cancer. Let’s hope Ron DeSantis learns that as well.

Our citizens voted for smokable medical marijuana. A lawmaker in the state house should not make that choice. You should make the call, by yourself, with your partner, in your own house. Nothing less than your inalienable right to free choice is at stake.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Categories: Blog Feeds

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri Discusses AG Nominee Barr and Legalization on CBS News

NORML Blog - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 12:49

Earlier today, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri made an appearance on CBS News to discuss Attorney General Nominee William Barr’s recent comments regarding marijuana legalization and how he would handle states that have reformed their cannabis policies if he were confirmed as the next Attorney General.

“It really falls to Congress at this point to take the initiative and to deschedule marijuana entirely from the CSA so the 47 states that currently aren’t in compliance with that act don’t have this untenable position with the federal government…[By opposing legalization personally] Barr finds himself in a dwindling minority on this topic, recent polling shows about 68% of all Americans support ending prohibition and legalizing marijuana. There’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube on this.” – NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri

WATCH:

Categories: Blog Feeds

Legislation To Produce And Research Cannabis Introduced

NORML Blog - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 08:32

A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers has introduced The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019 (HR 601), to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis.

Click here to send a message to your Representative and urge them to support the measure. 

The act ends the University of Mississippi’s existing monopoly on the growth of cannabis for clinical research purposes, by requiring the licensing of additional manufacturers.

To date, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse designates the University of Mississippi to be the sole provider of marijuana for FDA-approved research. However, many of those familiar with their product have criticized its quality, opining that it possesses subpar potency, is often poorly manicured, and that it does not accurately reflect the wide variety of cannabis products and strains available to consumers.

As the result of a lawsuit, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner in 2007 ruled that expanding the pool of federally licensed providers would be “in the public interest.” The agency ultimately rejected her decision. More recently, in 2016, the DEA changed its position and amended regulations in a manner to permit additional applicants to apply to federal licensure to grow marijuana. However, the United State’s Attorney General’s office has thus far failed to take action on any pending applications.

Other provisions in the measure explicitly permits VA physicians to provide information to patients regarding their eligibility in clinical trials, and provides a “safe harbor” for universities, clinicians, and patients participating in federally-approved trials from federal interference.

Click here to send a message to your federal lawmaker and urge them to support the measure. 

A similar version of this bill was passed in the House Judiciary Committee in 2018 yet was not taken up by the full chamber.

At the time the bill passed committee, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano praised the effort, saying, “The federal hurdles in place that currently discourage clinicians from engaging in clinical cannabis research have long been onerous and irrational. It is high time that lawmakers recognize this problem and take action to amend it so that investigators may conduct the same sort of high-quality clinical research with cannabis that they do with other substances.”

Categories: Blog Feeds

Gubernatorial Report Card: Learn Where Your Governor Stands on Marijuana Policy

NORML Blog - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 10:31

To kick off the 2019 state legislative season, NORML is pleased to release our 2019 Gubernatorial Scorecard. This extensive database assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to states’ governors based upon their comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.

“Following the publication of our 2018 Scorecard, there has been a dramatic shift in opinion among elected officials in favor of marijuana policy reform,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Never before have we seen so many governors go on record and pledge their support for legalizing the responsible use of cannabis by adults. As a result, we expect there to be unprecedented levels of legislative activity at the state level surrounding the need to regulate the commercial cannabis market in 2019 and in 2020.”

Key Findings

Twenty-seven US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (22 Democrats, 5 Republicans)

Of these, nine US governors – all Democrats – received an ‘A’ grade; this marks a significant increase since 2018, when only two governors received ‘A’ grades. They are:

Gavin Newsom: California
Jared Polis: Colorado
Ned Lamont: Connecticut
JB. Pritzker: Illinois
Gretchen Whitmer: Michigan
Tim Walz: Minnesota
Phil Murphy: New Jersey
Kate Brown: Oregon
Jay Inslee: Washington

Ten governors received a ‘B’ grade (9 Democrats, 1 Republican)

Eight governors received a ‘C’ grade (4 Republicans, 4 Democrats)

Fifteen governors – 14 Republicans and 1 Democrat – received a ‘D’ grade

Four governors – all Republicans – received a ‘F’ grade

Four governors received no grade because of insufficient data

Of the 23 Republican governors receiving a letter grade, only five (22 percent) received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher

Of the 23 Democratic governors receiving a letter grade, 22 of them (96 percent) received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher

Among the 20 governors taking office for the first time in 2019, six (30 percent) received an ‘A’ grade. All are Democrats.

Seven governors received a raise in their grade since the publication of NORML’s 2018 report. They are:

Jay Inslee – Democrat, Washington: to B+ to A
Andrew Cuomo – Democrat, New York: from C- to B+
Tom Wolf – Democrat, Pennsylvania: from B- to B
Ralph Northam – Democrat, Virginia: from B- to B
David Ige – Democrat, Hawaii: from C to C+
Jim Carney – Democrat, Delaware: from C to C+
Greg Abbott – Republican, Texas: from D- to C-

The Takeaway

There exists now, for the first time, significant political support among US governors for marijuana policy reform. However, this support is more partisan than ever before. While almost half of all Democratic governors are now on record in support of adult use regulation, no Republican governors publicly advocate for this policy. This partisan divide is not similarly reflected among the general public. According to national polling data compiled by Gallup in October 2018, 66 percent of the public – including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – favor legalization.

The results of the 2018 midterm elections also show that advocating for marijuana legalization is a successful campaign issue. Several newly elected governors – such as Ned Lamont of Connecticut, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, and Tim Walz of Minnesota – actively campaigned on a pledge to legalize the commercial cannabis market, while two additional governors – Gavin Newsom of California and Jared Polis of Colorado – have prominent histories as marijuana law reform advocates. One governor, New York’s Andrew Cuomo, moved decidedly in favor of legalization during his re-election campaign.

This shift in political support among governors bodes well for the prospects of the passage of successful legislative reforms in various states in 2019 and beyond. While to date only one state – Vermont – has moved to legalize adult marijuana use via legislation (as opposed to the passage of voter initiatives), NORML anticipates that as many as four to five additional states (e.g., Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and Rhode Island) may similarly do so in the near future.

Click here to see the full report

 

Acknowledgments

This information is continually changing and was last updated 4/12/2018. If you have an additional public comment that we do not have a record of or any additional information please email politics@norml.org.

Important and timely publications such as this are only made possible when concerned citizens become involved with NORML. Please consider making a donation today so we may continue to work towards legalization and providing you the tools necessary to be an informed voter.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Attorney General Nominee Commits To Leave State-Legal Marijuana Programs Alone

NORML Blog - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 14:55

In Senate testimony today, nominee for Attorney General William Barr committed to not use the limited resources of the Department of Justice to prosecute state-regulated and compliant marijuana businesses. His statements came response to questions from Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) — each of whom represent states where marijuana is legally regulated for either medical or recreational purposes.

“It is encouraging that William Barr pledged not to enforce federal marijuana prohibition against the majority of US states that have reformed their laws. With this commitment, Congress has a clear mandate to take action and end the underlying policy of federal criminalization,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “In an era when 47 states have laws on the books that defy the Schedule 1 status of cannabis, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle.”

Supporters of reform efforts can easily contact their elected officials by visiting NORML’s Action Center.

In January of 2018, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded what is known as the Cole Memo, a 2013 Justice Department memorandum, authored by former US Deputy Attorney General James Cole to US attorneys in all 50 states. This memorandum directed prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and not to prosecute 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.

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. Additional states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

Members of Congress in recent years have approved amendments protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” However, this amendment does not provide protections to state-regulated activity governing activities specific to the adult use of marijuana.

Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to 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 2017 report estimates that over 149,000 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.

Click here to contact your elected officials in support of pending reform efforts. 

Categories: Blog Feeds

New Legislation Introduced To Protect State-Legal Marijuana Programs

NORML Blog - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 11:55

Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) has introduced HR 493: The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act, which would codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo.

The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act essentially would give peace of mind to lawmakers, regulators, 149,000+ workers, and the millions of patients and consumers who are dependent on the normalization of lawful marijuana markets. The most essential component in creating a stable business environment to meet consumer demand is certainty, and that is what states and businesses would have with Congressman Correa’s legislation to protect state-lawful programs from potential rouge US Attorneys under a Department of Justice likely to be led by known drug warrior William Barr.

Click here to send a message to your Representative and tell them to add their name in support!

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.

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.

It is critical that federal officials protect our progress. Send a message in support of HR 493 now!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/11/19

NORML Blog - Fri, 01/11/2019 - 14:23

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

As the first full week of the 116th Congress comes to a close, we have another new federal bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). HR 420 (yes, you read that right): The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act would deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Also, the rollout of the new leadership team of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus was announced. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) are joining founding members Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK).

At the state level, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington launched a new program and began granting pardons to those with past criminal misdemeanor marijuana-related convictions on their record.

At a more local level, the commonwealth attorney of Norfolk, Virginia will stop prosecuting all misdemeanor cannabis possession cases. And Dayton, Ohio completely decriminalized cannabis possession, as the city commission decided to eliminate the existing $150 possession fine.

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 at the federal level. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Regulate Like Alcohol: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 — (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Click here to email your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

North Dakota

Rep. Shannon Roers Jones (R) introduced legislation, House Bill 1155, to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

The measure would impose a civil penalty of $200 for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as for the cultivation of up to two marijuana plants.

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

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2134, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The measure would permit patients to grow up to nine cannabis plants in a locked, enclosed facility, and to possess up to three ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

Update: SB 2134 will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on 1/16/19 at 10:30am.

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

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1272, to expand access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.

The proposed changes are:

  • Allowing providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with Anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, autism, or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
  • Allowing physician assistants and naturopaths to recommend medical cannabis to their patients;
  • And allowing for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting North Dakota.

A separate provision of the bill seeks to eliminate the option for patients to inhale herbal cannabis for therapeutic purposes. NORML opposes this provision.

Update: HB 1272 will be heard by the Human Services Committee on 1/14 at 9:15am.

ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers and urge them to amend this bill

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, House Bill 399, to permit those convicted of past marijuana offenses to seek an expungement of their criminal records.

If passed, HB 399 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana. Lawmakers decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses in 2017.

Update: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold an executive session for HB 399 on 1/17 at 11am.

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

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 two mature plants and 12 seedings, and to possess up to six ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 364 on 1/15 at 2pm.

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

Legislation is pending, House Bill 366, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid addiction, misuse, or abuse.

Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 366 on 1/17 at 2:30pm.

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

Legislation is pending, House Bill 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: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 350 on 1/16 at 11am.

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

Legislation is pending, House Bill 335, to expand access to medical cannabis in New Hampshire.

The measure would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to authorize additional dispensary licenses in certain geographic areas of the state. Under existing law, only a handful of licensed dispensaries are permitted in the state. This means that some patients must travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices to obtain their medicine.

Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 399 on 1/15 at 1pm.

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

Kentucky

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 80, to legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis for adults.

The measure would allow adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, and cultivate up to 6 mature, and/or 6 immature plants.

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

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon plans to file legislation in 2019 to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Under existing law, minor marijuana possession offenses are categorized as a criminal misdemeanor — punishable by up to 45 days in jail.

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

Tennessee

Lawmakers will consider legislation in 2019 to allow qualified patients to access marijuana-infused products. While NORML believes this legislation is limited in scope, it is an important first step in legalizing and regulating medical cannabis access in Tennessee.

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

Virginia

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1557, to expand the state’s low-THC medical cannabis oil program.

The measure would allow Virginia’s licensed practitioners to recommend and pharmaceutical processors to dispense full therapeutic-strength medical cannabis oil. Under existing state law, medical cannabis oil may contain no more than five percent THC, greatly restricting its therapeutic potential and medical efficacy.

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

Georgia

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 10, to reduce the penalty for minor marijuana possession offenses.

Under this proposed measure, the possession of up to one half ounce of marijuana would be reduced from an offense punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,000 to an offense punishable by a maximum fine of $300. However, the offense would still remain classified as a criminal misdemeanor.

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

Colorado

Legislation is pending in Colorado that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis.

Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.

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

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

New York

Legislation is pending, S. 490, to allow qualified patients the option to inhale herbal cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of herbal medical cannabis inhalation

Legislation is pending, S 219, to explicitly permit children and developmentally disabled individuals with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered at schools and other facilities, and require school districts and facilities to create policies for medical marijuana administration.

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

New Mexico

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

The measure permits children with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered to them while on school property.

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

Indiana

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1130, to protect out-of-state patients who possess medical cannabis while visiting Indiana.

Under this measure, patients who are registered to use medical cannabis in those 33 jurisdictions that permit it may legally bring up to 30 grams of their medicine with them while visiting Indiana.

IN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protecting out of state patients

Other Actions to Take

Missouri

Legislation is pending, House Bill 440 / Senate Bill 2, to facilitate equity among those licensed to operate in the medical cannabis industry.

The measure would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to prioritize licensing applications submitted by women and minority owned business applicants.

MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of equity within the industry

New Hampshire

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.

The measure seeks to “establish policy and procedures for growing industrial hemp in new Hampshire so that farmers and other businesses in the New Hampshire agricultural industry can take advantage of this market opportunity.”

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

South Carolina

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

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

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 8, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

The measure seeks to “legalize the production of industrial hemp in the state and to establish rules for such production.”

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

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.

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

Categories: Blog Feeds

HR 420: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act

NORML Blog - Thu, 01/10/2019 - 07:14

This week, Congressman Earl Blumenauer reserved HR 420 for his legislation, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.

A decades-long champion of cannabis reform, this marks the first time that Blumenauer has staked out the specific bill number 420. His focus however, is ever on the goal of reform, telling Forbes, “While the bill number may be a bit tongue in cheek, the issue is very serious. Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch and have negatively impacted countless lives.”

The legislation would deschedule cannabis, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit. Further, marijuana would be removed from the enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matters concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales, to a newly renamed Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to ensure compliance with state laws and prevent illegal trafficking of the substance.

In the 115th Congress, the bill had 26 cosponsors – compared to 19 cosponsors in the 114th.

Will you tell your Representative to cosponsor the bill? Click here to send a message in less than 20 seconds.

Then spread the word! Click here to share our action alert on Facebook and click here to share it on Twitter

Categories: Blog Feeds

Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chairs Announced

NORML Blog - Wed, 01/09/2019 - 09:15

Today, the rollout of the new leadership team of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus was announced, with Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) joining founding members Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK).

First founded in 2017, the Caucus has been a pivotal element in our ability to build broad bipartisan support for legislation that would address every aspect of reform, from ending criminalization to research to veterans healthcare.

“The Cannabis Caucus was the first of its kind to create a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Congress is clearly out of step with the American people on cannabis when national support for federal marijuana legalization is at an all-time high and we saw several states move toward with legalization last November.”

“Over the last decade, I’ve worked to build understanding and consensus on the need for reform and our movement is cresting. I’m looking forward to working alongside Reps. Lee, Joyce, and Young to build on the bipartisan work we’ve done to end the senseless federal prohibition on marijuana once and for all.”

The addition of Rep. Lee brings much-needed diversity to the Caucus’s leadership, as she will become the first woman and first African-American to serve as co-chair. A longtime champion of reform efforts, Rep. Lee introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in the last Congress which received the highest number of cosponsorships of any legislation that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act in history.

“For far too long, communities of color and women have been left out of the conversation on cannabis. I am committed to ensuring that marijuana reform goes hand-in-hand with criminal justice reform so we can repair some of the harm of the failed War on Drugs. We must also work to build an industry that is equitable and inclusive of the communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition,” said Rep. Lee.

By joining, Rep. Joyce becomes the first leader in the Caucus to come from a state that has yet to pass an adult-use regulatory program. A longtime supporter of reform efforts himself, Rep. Joyce stepped up in the last Congress and introduced The States Act, legislation that would ease the tension between federal prohibition and state-legal programs, as well as was a cosponsor of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act entirely.

“I’m proud to join my colleagues in leading the effort to implement responsible, commonsense cannabis policies,” said Rep. Joyce. “It is critical that we protect the rights of the states across the country, like Ohio, that have already done so at the state level. The federal government’s interference in this arena has stifled important medical research, interfered with doctors and patients making treatment decisions and harmed state-legal businesses. I look forward to working with Congressman Blumenauer, Congressman Young, and Congresswoman Lee to advance sensible cannabis reforms that will benefit our nation’s veterans, patients, and businesses across the country.”

The continued efforts of the Caucus will lead to increased levels of support for reform at the federal level and fosters an all-around positive element to promote effective government solutions.

“Since the initial launch of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus we’ve seen an exponential growth in interest, legislation, and membership many would not have expected”, said Young. “The idea of States’ Rights has been a central tenet of this movement and one that I believe will ultimately carry the day. I encourage all Members to join us in this debate and explore the varying issues.”

In the 115th Congress, NORML hosted a number of events in cooperation with the Cannabis Caucus, including policy briefings with travel writer Rick Steves, former US Attorneys Barry Grissom and Bill Nettles, and victims of criminalization as part of “The Faces of Prohibition.”

We look forward to continuing to work with the growing group of congressional allies who join the Cannabis Caucus to end federal marijuana criminalization once and for all.

You can email your Representative now to tell them to join their colleagues in the Cannabis Caucus by clicking here.  

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Anslinger lives on

DrugWarRant - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 09:52

Kansas lawmaker makes racist comments about African Americans, marijuana

Republican Rep. Steve Alford of Ulysses:

“What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas (and) across the United States, what was the reason they did that?” Alford said at the event. “One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, the African-Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off those drugs just because (of) their character makeup, their genetics, and that.”

Alford later said: “I’m about as far from being a racist as I can get.”

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Cities Across Michigan Ban Legal Marijuana Sales

NORML Blog - Mon, 01/07/2019 - 21:48

Since the passage of Proposition 1, officially known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which legalized the sale, possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and up last November, members of Michigan NORML have encountered a new challenge: municipal opt-out. Similar to other states that have legalized adult-use marijuana like Colorado, California and Oregon, it’s up to municipal governments in Michigan to decide if legal marijuana businesses can operate within their communities.

To date, more than 80 municipalities in Michigan have imposed moratoriums or outright bans on the sale of adult-use marijuana. In some cases, like with the city of Troy where residents opposed Proposition 1, it’s due to a lack of support for legal marijuana. In other cities, municipal governments are simply waiting until they have a better understanding of how the new law will be implemented by state lawmakers before exploring rules and regulations for local licensing.

“I’m confident that many municipalities will opt-in after the State promulgates administrative rules and sample ordinance amendments are made available to municipal attorneys,” said Brad Forrester, Board Member of Michigan NORML. “Some of the municipal officials I’ve spoken with have expressed an interest, but they don’t really understand exactly how the process works and they said they’re awaiting guidance from State officials.”

Considering many who supported Proposition 1 believed passage of the new law was going to eliminate underground marijuana sales by providing access to a legal and regulated alternative, the decision by municipal governments to opt-out of the sale of adult-use marijuana appears to undermine the intent of the initiative and expectations of voters. We’re at a tipping point in America with regard to public support for ending marijuana prohibition, but there’s still plenty of work to do, especially at the local level.

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths and misinformation with NORML’s Fact Sheets! Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

 

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A fossil shows up on the pages of the New York Times

DrugWarRant - Fri, 01/04/2019 - 21:07

We haven’t had many of these in a while — but they used to be pretty common fare, until the public stopped falling for them.

In the New York Times: What Advocates of Legalizing Pot Don’t Want You to Know by Alex Berenson

Federal surveys also show that rates of serious mental illness are rising nationally, with the sharpest increase among people 18 to 25, who are also the most likely to use cannabis. The surveys and hospital data cannot prove that marijuana has caused a population-wide increase in psychosis, but they do offer intriguing evidence. […]

Many people are arrested for marijuana possession, but very few end up imprisoned. […] But advocacy groups don’t view decriminalization as an acceptable compromise. […]

Worse — because marijuana can cause paranoia and psychosis, and those conditions are closely linked to violence — it appears to lead to an increase in violent crime. Before recreational legalization began in 2014, advocates promised that it would reduce violent crime. But the first four states to legalize — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — have seen sharp increases in murders and aggravated assaults since 2014, according to reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Police reports and news articles show a clear link to cannabis in many cases. […]

As Americans consider making marijuana a legal drug, it would be wise to remember the choices that fueled the devastating opioid epidemic. Decades ago, many of the same people pressing for marijuana legalization argued that the risks of opioid addiction could be easily managed.

A half-million deaths later, we have learned how wrong they were.

Marijuana’s risks are different from opioids’, but they are no less real. Let’s remember that hard truth as we listen to promises that allowing the use of this drug will do no harm.

Wow.

Am I getting out of touch? I don’t remember hearing about this guy, and yet apparently he’s writing a book: “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.”

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