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Weekly Legislative Roundup 5/4/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 05/04/2018 - 10:47

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

Let’s talk about some new state-level developments. The Maine House of Representatives and Senate overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) veto of marijuana legalization implementation legislation this week. The enactment of the legislation establishes a framework for the retail sale of marijuana to adults, but also amends numerous provisions of the 2016 voter-approved measure — including those specific to home grow limits and taxation.

The New Approach Missouri medical cannabis campaign submitted 372,483 petition signatures to put their language first on this November’s ballot.

Also at the state level, the Alaska legislature approved a resolution urging the federal government to respect the state’s marijuana laws, the Arizona House of Representatives defeated a bill to require medical cannabis testing, and The New Hampshire Senate voted 14-10 to hold a medical cannabis homegrow bill for interim study, effectively killing it for the year.

At a more local level, Seattle, Washington’s mayor and city attorney are asking a court to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for marijuana possession. And the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania City Council approved a resolution calling on Congress to pass the Marijuana Justice Act.

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.

Your Highness,
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 Hampshire

SB 388 would expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis.

Update: Members of the House passed SB 388 on a voice vote on 4/28. Governor Chris Sununu’s spokesman Ben Vihstadt said that the governor plans to sign SB 388 into law.

NH resident? Click here to email Gov. Sununu in support of medical expansion

Louisiana

House Bill 579 would expand the state’s nascent medical cannabis program.

The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis by permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, severe muscle spasms or glaucoma. The bill was already approved by the House last month.

Update: The Senate Health & Welfare Committee voted 4-2 to approve HB 579 on 5/2 with amendments. The committee amendments were adopted on 5/3.

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

California

Assembly Bill 1793, would “allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.

Update: The Assembly’s Appropriations Committee held a hearing on AB 1793 on 5/2, but no action was taken on the bill.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of automatic expungement

Delaware

Medical
House Bill 374 would expand the state’s medical cannabis access program.

The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis by permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from: chronic debilitating migraines, pediatric autism spectrum disorder, and pediatric sensory processing disorder.

Update: HB 374 passed the House on 5/1, and now awaits action in the Senate Health, Children & Social Services Committee.

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

Expungement
SB 197 was just introduced, to permit those convicted of past marijuana possession convictions to seek expungement.

The measure would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting the expungement of any past marijuana possession violations that are no longer defined as a crime under state law. State officials estimate the legislation could affect up to 1,250 people convicted of a single marijuana crime from 1977 to 2015.

DE resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

Illinois

House Bill 2367 provides for the automatic expungement of past marijuana possession or paraphernalia violations.

The measure mandates the automatic expungement of any citation for a civil law violation of either: subsection (a) of Section 4 of the Cannabis Control Act, or subsection (c) Section 3.5 of the Drug Paraphernalia Control Act.

Update: HB 2367 was amended on the House floor on 4/27, then re-referred to the Rules Committee.

IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of automatic expungement

Hawaii

House Bill 2729 would allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii.

Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status. A Conference Committee was appointed last month to reconcile disagreement between the House and Senate on proposed amendments.

Update: The Conference Committee recommended the measure be passed on 4/27, and both the House and Senate agreed to pass HB 2729 with amendments on 5/1. The bill now awaits action from Governor Ige.

HI resident? Click here to email Gov. Ige in support of reciprocity

 

Additional Actions to Take

California

Senate Bill 1302 would prohibit local governments from banning home deliveries from state-licensed cannabis providers into their jurisdictions.

Update: SB 1302 was heard by the Senate Governance & Finance Committee on 5/2, and then approved by the committee. It’s expected to soon be considered by the full House.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of cannabis home deliveries

Iowa

Senate File 2372 seeks to expand the state’s medical cannabidiol (CBD) law by removing the arbitrary 3 percent cap on THC content, and would allow doctors to recommend CBD to those suffering from chronic pain as well as to any other patient for whom they believe it would benefit. The bill was recently approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, but was never assigned to another committee.

Update: Similar legislation, SF 2405, is facing strong opposition by House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, stating that she wants to wait to hear recommendations from a state advisory board set up under last year’s legislation. Gov. Kim Reynolds agrees with her.

IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD expansion

Missouri

Senate Bill 547 and House Bill 2034would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.

Update: HB 2034 passed the House 133-6 5/3. The Senate passed the bill 29-3 5/2. It now awaits action from Governor Eric Greitens.

MO resident? Click here to email Gov. Greitens in support of industrial hemp

Illinois

Senate Bill 2298 provides for the ability for individuals to cultivate hemp with a state license even if they are not part of the state’s Agriculture Department pilot program. That program only permits hemp cultivation as part of a state-sponsored research program. The bill was already passed by the Senate last week.

Update: SB 2298 will be heard by the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee at 2pm on 5/8/18 in Room 413 Stratton Building.

IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp expansion

That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

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Universities in California and Utah Receive Funding to Pursue New Medical Marijuana Research

MPP Blog - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 14:17

The University of Utah Health and the University of California San Diego recently announced separate plans to begin new phases of research on medical marijuana. In Utah, the study will focus on the individual effects of cannabinoids on brain processes, while UC San Diego researchers will probe possible treatments for autism with marijuana. Both projects have been made possible by grants from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation in partnership with the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation.

The University of Utah Health received $740,000 to support innovative brain-imaging research, which will analyze how various cannabinoids affect cognition, stress, and pain. The study will involve 40 healthy young adults and seek to understand the causal mechanisms through which cannabinoids interact with receptors in the brain.

“Deciphering the personalized effects of CBD [cannabidiol] and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] will have a profound impact on how various cannabinoids may best be used for medical treatments,” said Jon-Kar Zubieta, MD, PhD, chair of the University of Utah School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and the study’s co-principal investigator.

With the support of a $4.7 million gift — the largest amount ever donated for medical marijuana research in the United States — the University of California San Diego will study the effects of CBD on autism. This research, the first of its kind, will investigate how CBD might correct neurochemical imbalances in individuals with autism, a condition that impacts an estimated 1 in 68 children born today.

“There are unconfirmed reports that cannabidiol could be helpful, but there are no careful studies to document either its benefits or its safety,” commented Igor Grant, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This gift will enable our researchers to develop and implement a translational program of research that pairs a clinical trial with detailed neurobehavioral observation, as well as basic science studies to determine if cannabidiol holds therapeutic promise, and if so, via what mechanisms.”

The post Universities in California and Utah Receive Funding to Pursue New Medical Marijuana Research appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Maine: Lawmakers Override Governor’s Veto, Amend Voter-Initiated Adult Use Measure

NORML Blog - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 15:42

Maine lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to override Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of LD 1719; the enactment of the legislation establishes a framework for the retail sale of marijuana to adults, but also amends numerous provisions of the 2016 voter-approved measure — including those specific to home grow limits and taxation.

Specifically, LD 1719 limits the number of mature plants an adult may cultivate at home from six to three. The measure also repeals language permitting the establishment of social-use facilities, and increases the excise tax rates on the sale of wholesale marijuana products. It also makes it easier for communities that wish to ban adult use operations to do so.

However, the measure also permits state regulators for the first time to move forward with the establishment of rules permitting for the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Legislators anticipate that it will be until 2019 before these facilities are operational.

Governor LePage, an ardent opponent of the 2016 initiative, vetoed LD 1719 last week, opining that he, “in good conscience cannot support a law that, on its face, violates federal law.” The Governor had previously vetoed a less conservative implementation bill last November. That bill did not amend home cultivation limits and did not outright ban social use establishments.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano expressed mixed emotions about the law’s passage. “On the one hand, we are grateful that regulators can now — after months of undue delay — finally begin moving forward with the process of licensing adult use marijuana sales and regulating this retail market. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that lawmakers felt it necessary to amend and repeal other important provisions of Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Act, in what ultimately was futile effort to curry favor with the Governor,” he said. “At the end of the day, this measure is far from consistent with the language that the majority of voters approved at the ballot box.”

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Maine Legislature Overrides Marijuana Regulation Bill Veto

MPP Blog - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 12:42

Today, the Maine House and Senate overrode Gov. LePage’s veto of the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee’s bill that establishes a regulatory framework for marijuana sales.

LD 1719 creates the rules for licensing and regulating marijuana producers, processors, and retail establishments and sets the tax rates for adult-use marijuana. The bill does not implement the portion of the voter-approved initiative that calls for social consumption lounges.

While the bill was by no means perfect, we are glad that the state is moving forward with implementation, and soon there will be a legal way for adults to purchase marijuana.

Here is the link to LD 1719 if you are interested in reading the full text of the bill.

We are disappointed that social clubs were removed from the law and that adults may now only cultivate three plants at home instead of six. We will be working with the next legislature and governor to improve upon the work the legislature has accomplished. To that end, we have sent a survey to the candidates running for governor, asking if they will make implementation a priority once elected. Stay tuned for the results of the survey before the June primary election.

The post Maine Legislature Overrides Marijuana Regulation Bill Veto appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Ninth Circuit Court Rejects Challenge To DEA’s Classification Of Marijuana Extracts

NORML Blog - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 12:05

A three judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a petition filed by the Hemp Industries Association challenging the DEA’s authority to establish a new administrative drug code specifically for marijuana extracts. The DEA first announced the proposed rule change in 2011, but did not enact the new policy until January 13, 2017.

In a decision filed on April 30, the Court rejected petitioners’ arguments – opining the DEA’s classification of marijuana extracts does not conflict with the provisions of either the Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka the ‘Farm Bill) or the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which limits the Justice Department from spending federal dollars to intervene in state-sanctioned activities involving marijuana or industrial hemp. The Court also dismissed petitioners’ argument that the rule substantively amended the federal Controlled Substances Act. Justices opined that such extract products, including those containing primarily CBD, were already classified under federal law as schedule I controlled substances.

The DEA has long contended that it possesses broad regulatory authority over “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L.,” including “the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.” The agency includes among this definition products containing cannabidiol or any other non-THC cannabinoids derived from the marijuana plant. It further states, “[T]he Agricultural Act of 2014 does not permit entities [who are not registered with the DEA] … to produce non-FDA-approved drug products made from cannabis.”

Over a dozen states have enacted legislation in recent years exempting certain persons who possess extracts high in cannabinoid from criminal prosecution. Legislation to approve the retail sale of CBD extracts to adults in Kansas is awaiting gubernatorial action. Indiana lawmakers approved a similar law in April. Several pieces of legislation seeking to exclude CBD from the federal definition of marijuana are pending in Congress. In 2015, Nora Volkow, the Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, publicly acknowledged that CBD is “a safe drug with no addictive effects.”

Petitioners say that they intend to appeal the ruling.

The case is Hemp Industries Association et al., v. US Drug Enforcement Administration et al., (No. 17-70162).

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NORML PAC Endorses Beto O’Rourke for Senate

NORML Blog - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 06:58


The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML PAC) has announced its endorsement of Beto O’Rourke for Senate in his race to unseat Senator Ted Cruz in Texas.

“Beto has been a true champion for abolishing our disastrous prohibition on marijuana since the very beginning of his political career as a city council member in El Paso. We were pleased to support him in his previous campaign for the House of Representatives and excited to endorse him again in his race for the US Senate,” said NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “As Senator, O’Rourke will be an outspoken and indispensable ally in reforming our federal laws relating to marijuana and fight to finally end our failed prohibitionist policies that are currently tearing apart families, oppressing communities of color, squandering countless tax dollars, and filling the coffers of criminal cartels. The time has come for our nation to move towards the sensible policy of regulation and legalization, sending Beto to the Senate would bring us yet another step closer to that goal.”

“We must end the federal prohibition on marijuana in this country,” said O’Rourke. “Texas should be leading the way by encouraging comprehensive reforms in drug control policies that have had a devastating effect on communities of color.”

Recent polling on the Texas Senate race showed O’Rourke running neck and neck with Ted Cruz with Cruz claiming the support of 47% of state voters and 44% supporting O’Rourke.

According to a 2017 poll by the University of Texas, 83 percent of Texans support legalizing marijuana for some use and 53 percent would go beyond legal medical marijuana to allow possession for any use.

According to an April 2018 poll from Quinnipiac University, 63% of all Americans support the legalization of marijuana nationwide.

“Texas ranks as one of the states with the highest arrests rates for simple possession of marijuana, at an estimated cost of 1.5 billion in taxpayer money annually,” said Jax Finkel, Executive Director of Texas NORML. “Beto O’Rourke understands that our federal prohibition is a failed policy and it is past time for Congress to end it and allow states like Texas the freedom to pursue new, sensible alternatives.”

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Study: Frequent Cannabis Use Unrelated To Brain Morphology

NORML Blog - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 14:08

The frequent use of cannabis is not associated with changes in brain structure, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.

An international team of scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States assessed the relationship between habitual cannabis exposure and grey matter volumes in seven regions of the brain – including the thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, and the nucleus accumbens – in two large population-based twin samples.

Researchers reported, “[N]ormal variation in cannabis use is statistically unrelated to individual differences in brain morphology as measured by subcortical volume.”

By contrast, the repeated use of nicotine was positively associated with significantly smaller thalamus volumes in middle-aged males.

Authors concluded: “This is the largest exploratory analysis integrating brain imaging with self-report cannabis and comorbid substance use data. After correcting for multiple testing, there was no effect of cannabis use on the volume at any subcortical region of interest in young adults or middle-aged males. … In the context of expanding medicalization and decriminalization and the concerns surrounding the consequences of increased cannabis availability, our findings suggest that normal variation in cannabis use is statistically unrelated to brain morphology as measured by subcortical volumes in non-clinical samples.”

The findings are consistent with those of prior brain imaging studies reporting that cannabis exposure appears to have little to no significant adverse impact upon brain morphology — particularly when compared to the dramatic effects associated with the alcohol exposure.

The study’s findings fail to replicate those of a well-publicized 2014 paper which alleged that even casual marijuana exposure may be linked to brain abnormalities, particularly in the amygdala.

Last week, a meta-analysis of 69 separate studies reported that cannabis exposure in adolescents and young adults is not associated with any significant, residual detrimental effects on cognitive performance. The results from a pair of recently published longitudinal twin studies similarly report that cannabis use is not independently associated with any residual change in intelligence quotient or executive function.

An abstract of the study, “Testing associations between cannabis use and subcortical volumes in two large population-based samples,” appears online here.

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Zimbabwe to Allow Medical Marijuana

MPP Blog - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 12:45

As public support for medical marijuana hovers over 90% in the United States while Congress continues to struggle to pass comprehensive legislation that would permanently protect state medical marijuana programs, Zimbabwe recently became the second African nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Marijuana Business Daily reports:

Details of the country’s cannabis regulations were announced in the government gazette on Friday, according to Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper, The Herald. (The gazette prints official notices and laws from the government.)

Five-year renewable licenses would allow growers to possess, transport and sell cannabis oil and fresh and dried cannabis, according to Reuters, which reported to have viewed Zimbabwe’s regulations.

The regulatory change came via Statutory Instrument 62, which amended the Dangerous Drugs Act to include Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Use Regulations, The Herald reported.

“In the case of a company, proof of citizenship or proof of being ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe of the majority of directors or proof of an exemption by the Minister and proof of incorporation in Zimbabwe of the company…” according to the regulations.

Production must be licensed by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.

No details are available on whether imports or exports would be permitted or how local MMJ consumption would be regulated.

The post Zimbabwe to Allow Medical Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Illinois Senate Approves a Safer Option for Opioid Patients

MPP Blog - Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:23

An important medical marijuana bill emerged from the Senate yesterday that could bring welcome relief to seriously ill patients around the state. Senate Bill 336 would allow patients who qualify for opioid prescriptions to enroll in the state’s medical cannabis program. SB 336, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Don Harmon and Chris Nybo, emerged with a strong 44-6 vote in support. The bill is now in the House.

Seriously ill patients should not be pushed towards some of the most harmful drugs available, particularly when there is a safer alternative. Studies in recent years have supported what many medical marijuana patients already know: medical cannabis can be an effective alternative for patients who might otherwise rely on opioid drugs.

Sen. Harmon’s bill would not only provide that alternative, it would also make other critically important improvements to the state program, including removing the current fingerprint requirement for all patients. Rep. Kelly Cassidy has already stepped in as chief co-sponsor in the House, along with over two dozen other House members who have joined with her as co-sponsors. But it’s crunch time in Springfield, and lawmakers are now working through the busiest time of the year — it’s important the bill continue to advance without delay.

If you are an Illinois resident, please ask your representatives to support this bill and to consider co-sponsoring if they haven’t signed on already.

The post Illinois Senate Approves a Safer Option for Opioid Patients appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/27/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:34

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

A lot of action was taken in Congress this week.  A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers has introduced legislation, the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis. 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. And Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has publicly announced her intention of filing legislation to protect lawful medical marijuana users from housing discrimination. The forthcoming measure explicitly permits qualified patients to consume marijuana in federally-assisted housing, including public housing and the Section 8 housing program.

Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced his intention to include the language of the Hemp Farming Act as an amendment to the 2018 version of the federal Farm Bill, which Congress is expected to take action upon in May. Sen McConnell also placed the bill on the Senate calendar using a procedural move that permits the issue to be voted on the Senate floor without going through the committee process first.

At the state level, Michigan election officials have confirmed that proponents of a statewide ballot measure, The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, have gathered enough signatures from registered voters to place it on the ballot this November. The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to grow and possess personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

Also, Governor Jeff Colyer of Kansas, Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, and Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska have all recently signed legislation into law to establish industrial hemp pilot programs in their state. On a similar note, the New Mexico Supreme Court has allowed two bills to become law that were previously vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez, clearing the way for farmers to obtain licenses from the Deptartment of Agriculture to grow hemp for research and development purposes.

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.

Your Highness,
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

Vermont

H. 167, which regulates the retail supply and sale of cannabis to adults, passed the Senate last year prior to stalling in the House. Lawmakers have placed H. 167 on the calendar for action for 4/17. Separate legislation, H. 490, to also regulate the retail production and sale of cannabis to adults, is still awaiting action from the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs.

VT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of regulating the retail sale of cannabis

Pennsylvania

Senate Resolution 258 seeks to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. If passed, the resolution would urge Congress to take action to amend federal law so that states could regulate cannabis absent undue federal interference.

Update: SR 258 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/25.

PA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of descheduling cannabis

Illinois

Medical
Senate Bill 336 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

Update: SB 336 was approved by the Senate 44-6 on 4/26. It now awaits action from the House.

IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

Expungement
House Bill 2367 provides for the automatic expungement of past marijuana possession or paraphernalia violations.

The measure mandates the automatic expungement of any citation for a civil law violation of either: subsection (a) of Section 4 of the Cannabis Control Act, or subsection (c) Section 3.5 of the Drug Paraphernalia Control Act. It also would allow those with certain past criminal marijuana convictions — those that occurred prior to the decriminalization of such offenses — to ask a judge to have the conviction expunged.

Update: HB 2367 was approved by the Restorative Justice Committee on 4/24 by an 8-2 vote. It is expected to be considered by the full House on 4/27.

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

California

Assembly Bill 2069 would explicitly bar employers from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

Update: The Assembly’s Labor And Employment Committee held a hearing on AB 2069 on 4/25, and then approved the bill. It now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of patient employment protections

 

Additional Actions to Take

New Hampshire

House Bill 1476 seeks to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use. The bill already passed the House last month.

Update: The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 on 4/25 to recommend that HB 1476 be sent to ‘interim study,’ but the bill is still expected to receive a vote in the full Senate sometime in the next few weeks.

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

Iowa

Senate File 2372 seeks to expand the state’s medical cannabidiol (CBD) law. The measure will remove the arbitrary 3 percent cap on THC content, and would allow doctors to recommend CBD to those suffering from chronic pain as well as to any other patient for whom they believe it would benefit.

Update: The Iowa State Senate Ways and Means Committee voted 13 to 3 to approve the bill on 4/23.

IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical CBD expansion

Illinois

Senate Bill 2298 would expand the state’s industrial hemp law by allowing individuals to cultivate hemp with a state license even if they are not part of the state’s Agriculture Department pilot program. That program only permits hemp cultivation as part of a state-sponsored research program.

Update: SB 2298 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/24.

IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp expansion

California

Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

Update: SB 930 was heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on 4/25, and was then approved by the committee. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access

That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

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Legislation Introduced To End The Federal Government’s Marijuana Production Monopoly

NORML Blog - Fri, 04/27/2018 - 08:35

A bipartisan coalition of over two-dozen federal lawmakers, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), are backing newly introduced legislation — The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 — to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis.

Passage of this act would end the University of Mississippi’s existing monopoly on the growth of cannabis for clinical research purposes by requiring the licensing of additional manufacturers.

Currently, 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.

Previous efforts to break this monopoly have so far been unsuccessful. In 2007, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner determined 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 Justice Department and the US Attorney General have thus far failed to take action on any pending applications.

Under this measure, the Justice Department is mandated to act on any application it receives within one calendar year.

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.

Please click here to urge your federal lawmakers to support The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018!

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Michigan: Adult Use Legalization Measure Certified For November’s Ballot

NORML Blog - Thu, 04/26/2018 - 13:13

Election officials today confirmed that proponents of a statewide ballot measure, The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, have gathered a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters to place it on the electoral ballot this November.

Proponents of the voter-initiated measure, The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, submitted more than 360,000 signatures to qualify it for the November 2018 ballot. The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to grow and possess personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

According to statewide polling commissioned by Michigan NORML, which is a leading member of the Coalition, 61 percent of voters say that they intend to vote yes on the measure.

Voters in other states will also be deciding on marijuana-related ballot questions later this year. Oklahomans will decide in June on State Question 788, which permits qualified patients to access and cultivate marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Utah voters are also expected to decide on a narrower medicalization measure in November, though officials have yet to officially certify that measure for the ballot. Proponents of a medical marijuana measure in Missouri have surpassed the number of signatures required to place it on the November ballot, well ahead of the state’s May 6 deadline. In South Dakota, officials have confirmed that proponents of a 2018 medical use initiative failed to gather the necessary number of signatures to qualify for November’s ballot.

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Michigan Legalization Initiative Qualifies for Ballot

MPP Blog - Thu, 04/26/2018 - 12:56

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has cleared a major hurdle towards making marijuana legal in Michigan. This morning, the Board of State Canvassers approved the petition signatures, and the initiative to regulate marijuana will be on the ballot in November. If approved by voters, Michigan would become the first state in the Midwest with an adult-use cannabis law.

In addition to allowing adults age 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana, the initiative would: regulate marijuana businesses that cultivate, process, test, transport, and sell marijuana; legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp (used to make textiles, biodegradable plastics, food, construction materials, and fuel); protect consumers with proper testing and safety regulations for retail marijuana; impose a 10 percent excise tax on marijuana sold at the retail level on top of the state’s six percent sales tax; and give local governments the option of whether they want to allow marijuana businesses in their communities.

Organizations supporting the coalition include the Marijuana Policy Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML, and MILegalize.

The initiative is being certified at a time when national attention is focused on marijuana policy reform. Earlier this month, President Trump reiterated his position in favor of not interfering with state marijuana policies in a conversation with Sen. Cory Gardner and assured him that the Department of Justice would not target individuals and businesses that are in compliance with state marijuana laws.

The post Michigan Legalization Initiative Qualifies for Ballot appeared first on MPP Blog.

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NEW POLL: 63% of Americans Believe “Marijuana Should Be Made Legal”

NORML Blog - Thu, 04/26/2018 - 10:13

Sixty-three percent of US voters believe that “marijuana should be made legal in the United States,” according to survey data released today by Quinnipiac University. The percentage is the highest support level ever reported in a nationwide Quinnipiac poll.

The result is similar to those of other recent national polls, such as surveys by CBS News, Gallup, and Fox News.

“Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long failed experiment with marijuana criminalization,” said Justin Strekal, NORML’s Political Director. “As this momentum and public pressure continue to build, now is the time for elected officials to find their way to a political evolution. We are ready to welcome them to the cause of justice, fairness, and individual liberty.”

He added, “In 2018, NORML members and marijuana reform supporters will be attending town halls, knocking on doors, and making political contributions with every intention of defeating candidates who maintain their reefer madness hysteria as a justification to treat cannabis consumers as second-class citizens.”

The poll’s results also revealed overwhelming support for medical marijuana and sweeping opposition to federal intervention in states that have reformed their marijuana laws.

From Quinnipiac:

Ninety-three percent of voters support the medical use of marijuana, as authorized by a doctor. This widespread support is in line with the results of prior polls.

Voters oppose the enforcement of federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana by a margin of 70 percent to 23 percent. Seventy-four percent of respondents say they support federal legislation to prohibit the federal government from intervening in states that have enacted marijuana regulatory laws.

Twenty-two percent of respondents acknowledged that they reside in a state where the recreational, adult use of marijuana is legal, and 61 percent of Americans reject the claim that cannabis is a supposed “gateway drug.”

Read the full results here.

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NORML PAC Endorses John Fetterman for PA Lieutenant Governor

NORML Blog - Thu, 04/26/2018 - 07:13

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML PAC) has announced its formal endorsement of John Fetterman for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.

“Mr. Fetterman has been an unrelenting champion for reversing Pennsylvania’s failed and draconic policies when it comes to marijuana,” stated NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “He understands the absolute devastation prohibition has wrought on families across the state, most acutely in already marginalized communities. Having John Fetterman as Lieutenant Governor would be a huge step forward in advancing civil liberties and racial justice in the Keystone State, we are proud to support his candidacy and call upon voters to cast their vote for him in the upcoming primary and then send him to Harrisburg in November. Together, we can make real progress towards sensible marijuana policy in Pennsylvania.”

Upon receiving the NORML PAC endorsement, Fetterman said, “I will never shy away from the doing the right thing, and fully legalizing marijuana is the right thing for Pennsylvania. We should go full-on Colorado. It’s a simple solution to the devastation I have seen first-hand of the Opioid Crisis, and the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration on communities of color. As Lt. Governor I will be the leading voice on this issue in Harrisburg.”

Jeff Reidy, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley NORML chapter commented on the National group’s endorsement saying, “Presenting John Fetterman with this National NORML endorsement represents the unanimous support of NORML Chapters statewide, and the community’s support for his campaign and his family values. Mr Fetterman has long been a supporter of cannabis reform, our organization, and our end goal of legalization.”

According to the latest polling conducted by Independence Communications & Campaigns, Fetterman is leading the field of six candidates in the race for Lt. Governor with 20% of the vote. A September 2017 poll from Franklin and Marshall revealed that 59% of Pennsylvanians believe marijuana should be legalized and only 31% were opposed, the highest level of support the firm has reported for legalization since they began asking the question in 2006.

Learn more about John Fetterman and his campaign by visiting his website, Facebook, or Twitter.

The Pennsylvania Democratic Primary will be held on Tuesday, May 15th. You can check your voter registration and find your polling place by clicking HERE.

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N.H. Senate Committee Ignores Patients’ Testimony, Rejects Home Grow Bill

MPP Blog - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 08:32

Yesterday, the New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 to reject a bill that would allow home cultivation of up to two mature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings by registered patients and caregivers. Instead of listening to the numerous patients who testified at the public hearing, the committee recommended that HB 1476 be sent to “interim study,” which would effectively kill it for the year. But there’s still hope. Next, the bill is expected to receive a vote in the full Senate sometime in the next few weeks. Gov. Chris Sununu has not expressed a public position on the bill.

This bill is critically important because many patients are unable to afford the products that are available at dispensaries, which are not covered by health insurance. For some patients, home cultivation is simply the best, most affordable option. There is no need for further study before allowing limited home cultivation by registered patients and caregivers, especially now that it is becoming clear that access to cannabis is a key to addressing the opiate crisis.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please email your state senator’s office today and urge him or her to support HB 1476! Then, call Gov. Chris Sununu and urge him to do the same.

 

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NORML Releases 2018 Gubernatorial Scorecard

NORML Blog - Tue, 04/24/2018 - 09:46

We are pleased to release our 2018 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.

KEY FINDINGS

  • Twenty-four US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (14 Democrats, 9 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
  • Of these, only two US governors, both Democrats, received an ‘A’ grade
  • Fifteen governors received a ‘B’ grade (9 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
  • Seven governors received a ‘C’ grade (4 Republicans and 3 Democrats)
  • Nineteen governors received a ‘D’ grade (18 Republicans and 1 Democrat)
  • Four governors received a failing ‘F’ grade (All Republicans)
  • Three governors received no grade because of insufficient data
  • Of the 31 Republican US governors receiving a letter grade, only nine of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (34 percent)
  • Of the 15 Democratic US governors receiving a letter grade, 14 of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (93 percent)

Commenting on the results, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated, “While federal officials tend to receive most of the scrutiny in the fight for marijuana law reform, it is not just members of Congress who deserve our attention. In fact, with the majority of marijuana-related campaigns decided on the state level, it is our nation’s governors who often hold the key to our success or failure.”

Similar to the findings of NORML’s 2016 Governors Scorecard, this gubernatorial analysis once again affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are typically more progressive than the views held by the highest elected officials in their states – only 48 percent of whom received a passing grade from NORML. For example, while 64 percent of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only two Governors are public in their support of this position. Governors overall are also far less supportive of legislation to legalize the medical use of cannabis than are their constituents – more than 90 percent of whom back these type of reform measures.

Also evident is that gubernatorial support for marijuana law reform often falls upon partisan lines. While 93 percent of Democratic governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher, fewer than 40 percent of Republican governors did so. Further, nearly all of the governors who received either a ‘D’ or a failing grade from NORML are Republicans. Conversely, both of the governors who received a ‘A’ grade from NORML are Democrats. This partisanship lies largely in contrast to voters’ sentiments, as the public tends to view many aspects of marijuana law reform, such as the regulation of medicinal cannabis, as non-partisan issues. (For example, according to 2017 Quinnipiac polling, 90 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of Democrats, and 96 percent of Independents favor “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”)

Altieri continued: “Voters need to push current governors and 2018 gubernatorial candidates to take a proactive and positive stance on marijuana policy. Constituents must let their governors know that holding positions on marijuana legalization that are of step with the will of state voters will cost them at the ballot box, and that embracing sensible reform policies will increase their support among voters.”

He added: “Look to New Jersey as an example. The exit of anti-drug zealot Chris Christie and the election of pro-legalization Phil Murphy has changed the entire tenor of the debate. Already, the state is moving to expand and reinforce their long suffering medical marijuana program and his very election catapulted the topic of full legalization to the top of this year’s legislative priorities list.”

To read NORML’s full report, please visit: http://norml.org/us-governors

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NORML Delivers Over 10,000 Citizen Comments To The FDA Calling For The Reconsideration of Cannabis Prohibition

NORML Blog - Mon, 04/23/2018 - 11:37

NORML today hand-delivered over 10,000 written comments from US citizens calling on federal and international agencies to amend the international prohibition of cannabis. The public comments, which were requested earlier this month by the US Food and Drug Administration, will be considered as part of the World Health Organization’s ongoing review of the plant’s international classification.

Under international treaties, the marijuana plant is classified in the most restrictive schedules available for controlled substances. NORML maintains that this scheduling does not accurately reflect the plant’s widespread therapeutic acceptance and relatively low abuse potential.

 

The United National’s international prohibition of cannabis is a relic from a bygone era. This decision, which was largely a political one made over 50 years ago, does not accurately reflect either the available science or the rapidly changing political and cultural status of cannabis worldwide.

Members of NORML’s Board of Directors also submitted their own written testimony to the FDA, opining: “In general, the safety, dependence, and usage profile of cannabis compares favorably to alcohol, tobacco, and other unscheduled substances. For this reason, NORML believes that cannabis [ultimately] should be withdrawn from the treaty framework entirely.”

As of 1pm EST on April 23rd, there are only 6,566 comments submitted through the federal site. With the comments by NORML members, we will have submitted 61% of all public comments should that number hold.

Background per Regulations.gov:

The United States is a party to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances (Psychotropic Convention). Article 2 of the Psychotropic Convention provides that if a party to the convention or WHO has information about a substance, which in its opinion may require international control or change in such control, it shall so notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations (the U.N. Secretary-General) and provide the U.N. Secretary-General with information in support of its opinion.

Paragraph (d)(2)(A) of the CSA (21 U.S.C. 811) (Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970) provides that when WHO notifies the United States under Article 2 of the Psychotropic Convention that it has information that may justify adding a drug or other substances to one of the schedules of the Psychotropic Convention, transferring a drug or substance from one schedule to another, or deleting it from the schedules, the Secretary of State must transmit the notice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary of HHS). The Secretary of HHS must then publish the notice in the Federal Register and provide opportunity for interested persons to submit comments that will be considered by HHS in its preparation of the scientific and medical evaluations of the drug or substance.

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Pennsylvania Health Dept. to Expand Medical Marijuana Program, Allow Flower Vaporization

MPP Blog - Mon, 04/23/2018 - 11:30

The Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine announced the department will implement all of the advisory board’s recommended changes to the medical marijuana program. They include:

  • Allowing patients to use whole plant, flower cannabis via vaporization.
  • Rewording the qualifying condition “severe chronic or intractable pain” to delete the phrase “in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective.”
  • Allowing patients to qualify if they are undergoing “addiction substitute therapy — opioid reduction.”
  • Adding the following conditions to the program: cancer while in remission therapy, neurodegenerative diseases, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders, and terminal illness.
  • Eventually requiring minor patients to have recommendations from a pediatrician or other pediatric or adolescent health specialist. (This could be problematic due to the very small number of pediatricians who are recommending cannabis.)

The department will promulgate regulations with these changes on May 12, and they will then undergo legislative review.

These changes would have a major impact for Pennsylvania patients. Allowing cannabis in its flower form is crucial to affordability. And with the revised wording for severe pain, Pennsylvania will no longer steer pain patients to more dangerous medications, such as opiates.

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Battle Over Home Cultivation in New Hampshire Intensifies

MPP Blog - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 11:49

The New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee is expected to vote on HB 1476 next Tuesday, April 24.

The bill, which has already passed the House in a voice vote, would allow home cultivation of up to two mature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings by registered patients and caregivers. Many patients are unable to afford the products that are available at dispensaries, which are not covered by health insurance. Others have to drive long distances in order to reach a dispensary. For some patients, home cultivation is simply the best, most affordable option.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call or email your state senator’s office today and urge them to support allowing limited home cultivation.

 

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