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Study: Traffic Fatalities Have Not Increased As A Consequence Of Legalization

NORML Blog - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 15:14

The enactment of adult use marijuana regulation in Colorado and Washington is not independently linked to an increase in traffic fatalities, according to a study published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Investigators at the University of Oregon compared traffic accident outcomes in Colorado and Washington following legalization to other states with similar pre-legalization economic and traffic trends. They reported, “We find that states that legalized marijuana have not experienced significantly different rates of marijuana- or alcohol-related traffic fatalities relative to their synthetic controls.”

Authors concluded, “In summary, the similar trajectory of traffic fatalities in Washington and Colorado relative to their synthetic control counterparts yield little evidence that the total rate of traffic fatalities has increased significantly as a consequence of recreational marijuana legalization.”

The study’s findings are similar to those of a 2017 study published in The American Journal of Public Health which reported, “Three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.”

A 2016 study reported that the enactment of medical cannabis legislation is associated with an immediate decline in traffic fatalities among younger drivers.

Full text of the study, “Early evidence on recreational marijuana legalization and traffic fatalities” is available from the National Bureau of Economic Research. NORML’s fact-sheets on cannabis, psychomotor performance, and accident risk is online here.

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Mpp Calls for N.H. Study Commission Chair’s Ouster After Attempt to Shut Down Legalization Bill

MPP Blog - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 10:14

We have been expressing concerns about the make-up of New Hampshire’s marijuana legalization study commission since last spring, when the bill creating that commission was rewritten by the Senate to exclude reform supporters. We even asked Gov. Chris Sununu to veto the bill last July rather than create a study commission that would not be viewed as credible by the general public.

Sadly, although we have tried to work with this commission, it has now become clear that our initial concerns were well founded. In particular, it has been very frustrating to watch as the commission’s chairman, Rep. Patrick Abrami, has used his influence as vice-chair of the Ways and Means Committee — including by misleading the committee about testimony presented to the study commission — in an attempt to prevent HB 656 from advancing to the Senate.

We believe the people of New Hampshire deserve better. Please sign our petition now to join us in urging House Speaker Gene Chandler to replace Rep. Abrami with an unbiased legislator.

The post Mpp Calls for N.H. Study Commission Chair’s Ouster After Attempt to Shut Down Legalization Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Don’t Let Congress Roll Back Marijuana Protections

NORML Blog - Tue, 03/20/2018 - 10:49

One development in our federal government that got a bit lost in the flurry of other headlines this week is that House and Senate leaders are putting the last minute touches on an omnibus appropriations package that would fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.

Something that many in the marijuana policy space have grown to take for granted is the continuation of a rider that was part of last year’s package known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which strips away funding from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the rest of the Department of Justice to prosecute state-lawful medical marijuana programs.

Tell your federal officials to maintain this common sense protection for the 30 state medical marijuana programs and the 2,000,000 plus registered patients nationwide.

AG Sessions wants nothing more than to see these protections go away. In a letter he sent to Congressional leadership last year, he wrote: “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.”

In the past month, NORML has worked with Representatives Rohrabacher and Blumenauer in recruiting 60 additional members of Congress to cosign a letter of their own to Congressional leadership, which states, “We respectfully request that you include language barring the Department of Justice from prosecuting those who comply with their state’s medical marijuana laws. We believe such a policy is not only consistent with the wishes of a bipartisan majority of the members of the House, but also with the wishes of the American people.”

Given the immense dysfunction in Washington, it is absolutely crucial that Congress not give AG Sessions another inch in his powers to roll back our progress. Further, with ballot initiatives expected in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah later this year, we cannot give our opponents another reason to sow doubt. Send a message now to maintain these protections this week in order to ensure that we’re well positioned to win further victories in the days and weeks to come.

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Absurd ideas from the White House

DrugWarRant - Mon, 03/19/2018 - 13:13

The ACLU weighs in:

The White House announced a new proposal today for policies that respond to the opioid addiction crisis, including possibly imposing the death penalty for those charged with dealing drugs.

Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, had the following reaction:

“The opioid crisis is a serious problem that requires a serious solution. But the draconian law enforcement provisions included in this proposal are unconstitutional and absurd. […]

“The administration has, once again, put out a potentially disastrous and ill-thought-out policy proposal into our national discussion. The idea of executing people who sell drugs is ineffective, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand that.”

This was a completely moronic idea 20 years ago. Now it’s moronic and tone-deaf.

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MPP’s Illinois Primary Voter Guide

MPP Blog - Mon, 03/19/2018 - 11:52

Primary Election Day happens tomorrow in Illinois, and voters’ choices will have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in the state. Lawmakers are now considering legislation to end marijuana prohibition and legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. Illinoisans should take a close look at whether candidates will stand up for sensible marijuana policy reform.

We’ve done some of the work for you. If you haven’t voted already, please check out our Illinois Voter’s Guide to see where the candidates appearing on your ballot stand on cannabis reform. For more information, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open, check out the state’s website here.

While elected officials are more supportive of legalization than ever before, we want momentum to build, and this year’s elections will have a big impact both in the legislature and in the governor’s office. It’s crucial that supporters of cannabis reform make their voices heard in Illinois.

The post MPP’s Illinois Primary Voter Guide appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Colorado Lawmakers Form Nation’s First Statewide Cannabis Caucus

NORML Blog - Mon, 03/19/2018 - 11:05

With Colorado lawmakers well into their fifth legislative session since the retail sale of adult-use marijuana was enacted, the need to coordinate the various policy discussions around the issue has never been greater. Since Colorado voters approved the law change in 2012, there have been ongoing debates surrounding various aspects of the law and its impact — such as how best to address the question of social consumption, product testing, and the use of medical cannabis on public campuses. To best address these issues, state lawmakers have formed the first-ever statewide Cannabis Caucus.

“With the end of marijuana prohibition and the implementation of a robust tax and regulate program in Colorado, you have to consider the various areas of public policy that have been impacted. From business, and law enforcement, to education and health care, Colorado’s newly formed Cannabis Caucus will be a way to facilitate discussions among lawmakers regarding how to best to address these important matters,” said NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji.

NORML’s national office has been exploring the idea of state-level cannabis caucuses since the Congressional Cannabis Caucus was established in early 2017. Since then, NORML’s Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji has floated the idea to several Colorado lawmakers, but it wasn’t until he met with State Representative Dan Pabon’s office that things started to take shape. While Representative Pabon’s staff facilitated internal conversations with lawmakers about the possibility of establishing new caucus, NORML’s Kevin Mahmalji focused his time on recruiting new members and providing educational material.

“This kind of caucus is something we at the national level have been looking at for quite some time,” says NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji, who’s based in Denver. “Since the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, it just made sense to have something similar at the state level.”

Read more here: http://www.westword.com/news/colorado-cannabis-caucus-launching-march-16-2018-10094659

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Louisiana Lawmakers Considering Penalty Reduction, Medical Expansion

MPP Blog - Mon, 03/19/2018 - 10:13

Last week, the Louisiana Legislature convened, and bills to reform the medical program and decriminalize small amounts of marijuana have been filed! These bills are important steps towards patient access and sane marijuana policy in the Bayou State.

Under the current laws, if you are caught with marijuana in Louisiana, you could be facing jail time. HB 611 would change this by instituting a $100 fine for those caught with up to one ounce of marijuana. HB 579 would expand patient access to medical marijuana by allowing more conditions to qualify, such as intractable pain, PTSD, and other conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana.

If you are a Louisiana resident, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support these sensible reforms.

The post Louisiana Lawmakers Considering Penalty Reduction, Medical Expansion appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Oklahoma: Lawmakers Move Forward To Preemptively Quash Medical Marijuana Vote

NORML Blog - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:27

Senate lawmakers this week passed legislation, Senate Bill 1120, that seeks to preemptively quash many of the provisions of State Question 788 — an expansive voter initiative that provides physicians the discretion to recommend medical marijuana to those patients for whom they believe it will therapeutically benefit. Oklahomans will be voting on the measure, which NORML has endorsed, during a special election on June 26.

But state politicians who oppose the plan do not want to wait until June for the results of a statewide vote. Instead, they are trying to kill the measure now.

The language of Senate Bill 1120 guts State Question 788. It limits the pool of eligible patients only to those diagnosed with four distinct ailments. It arbitrarily caps the total number of licensed cannabis producers at no more than five providers. It limits the quantity of medical cannabis patients may possess, and also places undue limits on the formulations of marijuana products. It bars patients from smoking herbal cannabis and arbitrarily caps the potency of marijuana-infused products to no more than 10mgs of THC. Finally, it removes the right of patients and their caregivers to cultivate their own medicine.

Although SB 1120 initially failed to gain the number of votes needed for Senate passage, lawmakers reconsidered the legislation on Thursday and passed it by a vote of 26 to 11. The bill now awaits action in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

If you reside in Oklahoma, please take action here to urge your representatives to oppose this undemocratic piece of legislation. Oklahoma voters, not a handful of politicians, ought to be the ultimate arbiters of State Question 788.

Unfortunately, as prohibitionist politicians become more desperate in their opposition to marijuana law reform, we are seeing more frequent attempts to undermine the voters’ will. In Maine, lawmakers have yet to fully implement key parts of a 2016 voter-approved marijuana legalization initiative, and are now pushing to either kill or amend many of its core provisions. In Massachusetts, lawmakers have also enacted numerous delays in the rollout of its 2016 voter-approved adult use law. In Tennessee, legislators last year passed legislation nullifying the enactment of citywide marijuana decriminalization ordinances in Nashville and Memphis, and prohibited municipalities from enacting similar marijuana reform measures in the future.

That is why it is more important than ever that the electorate remain engaged and vigilant. Please utilize NORML’s Take Action Center to stay abreast of pending federal and state legislation, register to vote, access NORML’s 2018 Candidate Packet, and review NORML’s Congressional and Gubernatorial Scorecards to know who is standing with use — and who is acting against us.

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Deadline Looming for Maryland Cannabis Bills

MPP Blog - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:02

Monday is a crucial deadline for marijuana policy reform bills in Maryland. HB 1264, which would let Marylanders vote on regulating marijuana for adults, needs to move out of the House Judiciary Committee by then to stay alive this year. HB 602, a bill that would protect the rights of Maryland’s medical cannabis patients, must be voted on by the Senate in order to “cross over” to the House of Delegates and move forward during this session.

If approved by 60% of both chambers of the Maryland Legislature, HB 1264 would place a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot that would make possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis legal for adults 21 years of age and older and require the state to establish regulations and taxation for a legal cannabis market, as well as to ensure diversity in the cannabis industry.

HB 602 would ensure that patients don’t lose their Second Amendment rights under state law simply because medical cannabis helps them with their serious illness. Regardless of what you think about Maryland’s gun laws, no patient should have to lose any of their legal rights because of their status as a patient. This is of particular concern to veterans, who may be dissuaded from trying medical cannabis — a much safer alternative to the opioids they are frequently prescribed for pain or PTSD — because they don’t want to lose these rights.

The post Deadline Looming for Maryland Cannabis Bills appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/16/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 10:40

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

I first want to highlight some key developments happening at the state level.

During a budget address on Tuesday 3/13, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy reiterated his commitment to legalize marijuana in the Garden State this year. A budget overview document indicated that his Administration plans to legalize adult-use marijuana by January 1, 2019. Also, efforts in Wyoming to set felony penalties for edible and drinkable cannabis products failed.

Several marijuana related legislation died this week after failing to be voted on before crossover deadlines, including legalization bills in Kentucky and Missouri. The Indiana state legislature failed to agree on amendments to a hemp pilot program bill before the end of the legislative session; the bill will go to an interim study commission this summer. And an Arizona bill to enhance quality testing practices was defeated in the House Appropriations Committee.

At the local level, advocates in Los Angeles, California are holding events to help people with prior marijuana convictions get their records expunged.

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

Connecticut

House Bill 5458 is pending to regulate and tax the retail sale of marijuana to adults. The tax revenue raised by commercial retail sales would be used to fund substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs.

Update: The General Law Committee held a public hearing on HB 5458 on Thursday 3/15. The committee will vote on the bill by Tuesday.

CT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in favor of legalization, regulation, and taxation

Maryland

Legalization
House Bill 1264 would put an amendment to the Maryland Constitution on the ballot to be decided by voters to ensure that citizens have the right to possess, smoke, and cultivate marijuana.

Update: The House Judiciary committee held a hearing on HB 1264 on Tuesday 3/13 (I was there to testify!).

MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters decide

Decriminalization
Legislation is pending, SB 127, to expand the state’s marijuana decriminalization law.

If passed, SB 127 would amend penalties so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense. Under current law, the possession of more than ten grams of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Update: SB 127 was approved by the Judicial Proceedings Committee on 3/15.

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

Louisiana

Legislation is pending in the House, House Bill 611, to decriminalize offenses involving the possession of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia.

The measure amends criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis to a civil violation punishable by a fine only — no arrest and no criminal record. Possessing paraphernalia items would be treated similarly.

Update: Another, more favorable proposal was introduced on 3/12, HB 274, which seeks to entirely decriminalize the possession and distribution of marijuana, contingent on the creation of a sales tax system that would regulate the retail sale of marijuana.

LA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of complete decriminalization

Washington, DC

Legislation is pending, B22-446, to expand patients’ access to medical marijuana under District law.

This measure seeks to increase access among qualified patients by: establishing same-day registration, permitting home delivery, establishing safe-treatment facilities, establishing reciprocity with other jurisdictions, allowing existing dispensaries to expand their operations, and capping taxes, among other changes. These changes will assure that District patients — as well as those visiting from other jurisdictions that have similar programs in place — will have safe, consistent and reliable access to affordable medicine.

DC resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of improved medical marijuana access

New Jersey

New Jersey lawmakers are set to consider legalizing marijuana this legislative session. Sen. Scutari, as expected, re-introduced his marijuana legalization bill from last session for 2018, S830 and companion bill A1348. Both were referred to committee.

Update: Another proposal to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis was introduced by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, A3581.

NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them that it’s time to legalize marijuana

Tennessee

SB 1710 and HB 1749 permit qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: HB 1749 was originally on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/14, but got deferred until 3/21. SB 1710 is awaiting action in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of access to medical marijuana extracts

 

Additional Actions to Take

Missouri

Legislation is pending, SB 547 and HB 2034, seeking to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp.

If passed, the bills would 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: SB 547 passed the Senate on 3/15 by a 29-3 vote, and now awaits action in the House. HB 2034 passed the House last month, and is currently pending in the Senate Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources Committee.

MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

Indiana

Senate Bill 52 seeks to legalize the possession, use, manufacture, and retail sale of cannabidiol products, as well as to provide protections so that employers may not discriminate against anyone using CBD in compliance with the law.

Update: After a conference committee was appointed due to failure of both houses to agree on amendments, the conference committee report was approved by both the Senate (36-11 vote) and House (97-0 vote) on 3/14, and now awaits action from the Governor. Gov. Eric Holcomb has indicated that he will sign the bill.

IN resident? Click here to email your Governor and urge him to sign this bill into law

Alaska

Senate Bill 184 prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill’s intent is to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal under today’s laws, and to make it more likely that people convicted of only low-level crimes will become contributing members of society.

Update: SB 184 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 21, at 1:30 pm in BELTZ 105 (TS Bldg)

AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of sealing past marijuana convictions

California

Legislation is pending, AB 3157, to temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and cultivation of cannabis.

State and local taxes currently imposed upon retail cannabis sales can total in upwards of 40 percent. This excessive taxation places an undue financial burden, particularly on patients, many of whom are now unable to consistently afford their medicine.

Further, these tax rates make it exceedingly difficult for retail providers to compete with those in the underground market. One of the primary goals of Proposition 64 was to bring the black market above ground and to make this market transparent. In order to do so, it is necessary to reduce existing tax rates. Otherwise, compliant businesses are at a significant disadvantage due to their inability to compete with illicit actors who do not pay similar taxes.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of lower taxes

Oklahoma

Senate Bill 1120 seeks to preemptively challenge provisions in State Question 788.

Voters will decide on June 26 in favor of State Question 788, which permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis therapy to qualified patients at their discretion. Under this plan, patients would be authorized to possess up to eights ounces of herbal cannabis in private and grow up to six mature plants.

NORML endorses State Question 788 and opposes SB 1120.

Update: Senate Bill 1120 was brought back for reconsideration after it failed to secure the necessary number of votes on the Senate floor on 3/12, and Senator Yen held it on a procedural motion to reconsider. SB 1120 then passed by the Senate on 3/15 by a 26 to 11 vote and awaits action from the House.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in OPPOSITION to this effort

Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

 

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Study: Marijuana Decriminalization Leads To Decreased Arrests, No Increase In Youth Use

NORML Blog - Thu, 03/15/2018 - 11:25

State laws reducing minor marijuana possession offenses from criminal to civil violations (aka decriminalization) are associated with dramatic reductions in drug-related arrests, and are not linked to any uptick in youth cannabis use, according to data published by researchers at Washington University and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Investigators examined the associations between cannabis decriminalization and both arrests and youth cannabis use in five states that passed decriminalization measures between the years 2008 and 2014: Massachusetts (decriminalized in 2008), Connecticut (2011), Rhode Island (2013), Vermont (2013), and Maryland (2014). Data on cannabis use were obtained from state Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) surveys; arrest data were obtained from federal crime statistics.

Authors reported: “Decriminalization of cannabis in five states between the years 2009 and 2014 was associated with large and immediate decreases in drug-related arrests for both youth and adults. … The sharp drop in arrest rates suggests that implementation of these policies likely changed police behavior as intended.”

They further reported: “Decriminalization was not associated with increased cannabis use either in aggregate or in any of the five states analyzed separately, nor did we see any delayed effects in a lag analysis, which allowed for the possibility of a two-year (one period) delay in policy impact. In fact, the lag analysis suggested a potential protective effect of decriminalization.” In two of the five states assessed, Rhode Island and Vermont, researchers determined that the prevalence of youth cannabis use declined following the enactment of decriminalization.

Investigators concluded: “[I]mplementation of cannabis decriminalization likely leads to a large decrease in the number of arrests among youth (as well as adults) and we see no evidence of increases in youth cannabis use. On the contrary, cannabis use rates declined after decriminalization, though further study is needed to determine if these associations are causal. These findings are consistent with the interpretation that decriminalization policies likely succeed with respect to their intended effects and that their short-term unintended consequences are minimal.”

Thirteen states currently impose either partial or full decriminalization. Nine additional states have subsequently moved to fully legalize the use of marijuana by adults.

Full text of the study, “Cannabis decriminalization: A study of recent policy change in five states,” is available online here. Additional fact-sheets regarding the societal impacts of decriminalization policies are available from the NORML website here.

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A First Timer’s Account of Testifying at the Maryland State Capitol

NORML Blog - Thu, 03/15/2018 - 10:23

I’m Carly, and I’ve been a Political Associate with NORML in Washington, DC for about 7 months now. I recently testified (for my first time ever!) before the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee in favor of House Bill 1264 – a constitutional amendment that would put a question on this November’s ballot to let the voters decide on the issue of marijuana legalization and retail sales.

When I first found out I was going to testify, I was excited. I knew this was a unique opportunity that not everyone would have in their lives, and a chance to make my own voice heard before a committee of legislators in a state I felt a deep connection to – being a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, I spent some of the best years of my life living in College Park, MD.

What was I going to say? How was I going to say it? Were they going to take me seriously, being so young? Is 2 minutes enough to communicate the extremely important message I was trying to convey? There was only one thing I knew for sure – I was really nervous.

I arrived at the Maryland State House around noon that day, and was instantly greeted by my colleagues from Maryland NORML. Everyone brought positive vibes and good energy, which I needed. The hearing began at 1pm, and I thought it would only be a couple hours, at most, before they called our bill. Little did I know, this was all just a waiting game.

Then came 5pm, 6pm, 7pm… and still no mention of HB 1264. By that time, I was losing energy and hope, wondering if the committee would even end up getting to our bill that day. Luckily, I was surrounded by an optimistic, upbeat group of activists that kept my spirits high. By the time 10pm rolled around, it was finally our turn.

I entered the committee room, and Delegate Moon (the bill’s sponsor) had the microphone, explaining different provisions of the bill and answering a boatload of questions from the committee members, with a representative from the Marijuana Policy Project, and a former law enforcement officer joining him on the panel.

My nerves were surprisingly eased as I sat in that room waiting for my turn to testify. The committee members were cracking light-hearted jokes – one of them even joked about Delegate Moon providing samples to the committee. This made me feel a lot more comfortable speaking in front of them. After all, they are just regular people, and concerned residents of MD like I once was.

I was on the next panel, with Luke Jones, Director of Maryland NORML, and attorney Eric Sterling beside me. We each had our 2 minutes, and that was that. I felt confident in my testimony, focusing on the right to home cultivate and how perceived youth access to cannabis has declined in the states that have legalized.

The other panels testifying in favor included victims of the current laws who were arrested for simple possession and a medical patient who had to revert to the black market because of high costs and poor accessibility.

Then came the opposition panel. It consisted of two AAA representatives (as expected), along with another representative from the organization, Smart Approaches to Marijuana. They brought up concerns of impaired driving and youth access, which we had previously addressed. We left the committee room around 11:30pm feeling cautiously optimistic and eager to see how this would all play out.

All in all, besides the anticipation of waiting for 10 hours, I had an incredibly positive experience testifying at the Maryland State House. I felt empowered, like I was making a difference. If there’s ever a hearing for a bill on an issue that you care about – go. Testify. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to do so, and as a result, Maryland is one step closer to ending the prohibition of marijuana.

If you live in MD, tell your lawmakers to support HB 1264

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New Jersey Governor Commits to Legalization

MPP Blog - Wed, 03/14/2018 - 13:48

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reiterated his commitment to voters in his budget yesterday, which states that: “New Jersey will join other progressive states such as California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Colorado by legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana,” by January 1, 2019. In his speech, he also refuted claims by opponents that decriminalization alone would address the harms of marijuana prohibition.

“Decriminalization alone will not put the corner dealer out of business, it will not help us protect our kids, and it will not end the racial disparities we see,” he said. “If these are our goals — as they must be — then the only sensible option is the careful legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana sales to adults.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. If you are a New Jersey resident, please thank Gov. Murphy for his continued commitment to sensible marijuana policy and urge your lawmakers to support ending prohibition in New Jersey.

The post New Jersey Governor Commits to Legalization appeared first on MPP Blog.

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N.H. House Committee Tries to Crush Legalization Hopes

MPP Blog - Tue, 03/13/2018 - 15:22

The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee is attempting to abuse its power by recommending that the House kill the marijuana legalization bill. If the House agrees to the committee’s motion of “interim study” when HB 656 reaches the floor next week, the bill will be dead for the year.

As a reminder, the New Hampshire House has already voted 207-139 to pass HB 656. Instead of legalizing retail sales — which is something a study commission is considering — the bill as amended would simply allow adults to cultivate six plants, three of which could be mature. It would also legalize possession of three-quarters of an ounce or less, and marijuana in excess of that amount would be legal as long as it is stored along with the plants that produced it. You can read a summary of the bill here.

HB 656 should have gone directly to the Senate after it passed the House, but instead it was sent to the Ways and Means Committee, which only deals with issues related to revenue. Some legislators are trying to make this issue complicated, but HB 656 is actually very simple and there is no good reason not to move the bill forward.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please email your representatives right now and urge them to oppose this outrageous action by the committee.

The post N.H. House Committee Tries to Crush Legalization Hopes appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Jersey Governor Doubles Down on Marijuana Legalization

NORML Blog - Tue, 03/13/2018 - 12:23

During a budget address on Tuesday, March 13th, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy doubled down on his commitment to legalize marijuana in the Garden State this year.

A budget overview document released in tandem with his address states that “this Administration plans to legalize adult-use marijuana by January 1, 2019. The State will also move forward with expanding access to medical marijuana to alleviate patient suffering. Governor Murphy is ready to end the cycle of non-violent, low-level drug offenses holding individuals back.”

Governor Murphy campaigned heavily on a pledge to legalize marijuana and today’s address makes clear he continues to push forward on his promise. Recently, some legalization opponents have begun to push for a watered down version of decriminalization as a way to derail the fight for full legalization and regulation. Governor Murphy was having none of it.

“Decriminalization alone will not put the corner dealer out of business, it will not help us protect our kids, and it will not end the racial disparities we see. If these are our goals – as they must be – then the only sensible option is the careful legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana sales to adults,” stated Murphy during his budget address.

In addition to advocating for full legalization, Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy has already began a process to expand the state’s struggling medical marijuana program. In January, he signed an executive order calling on regulators to review the state’s eight-year-old medical cannabis access program and to recommend ways to increase participation from patients and physicians.

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

IF YOU LIVE IN NEW JERSEY, CLICK HERE TO QUICKLY AND EASILY WRITE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS IN SUPPORT OF LEGALIZATION.

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Success In Wyoming Adversity

NORML Blog - Tue, 03/13/2018 - 10:38

Wyoming as a whole is staunchly conservative.  Sometimes one wonders why a legislator would even try to run with a “D” behind their name on the ballot.  That is not to say we have lacked excellent Democratic leaders, but the blood of the state runs very red.  This is a state dominated by energy production, a sense of uniquely independent national pride, and respect for nature and the dance with her that is the agricultural relationship.  The extreme end of this conservative bent is seated in law enforcement.  Too often Wyoming NORML hears from residents whose lives have been turned upside down by aggressive enforcement of laws designed to control a natural plant that the vast majority of people here support having access to.

Despite our doggedly conservative character, we are a caring, pragmatic, and individualistic cast.  At last polling, the University of Wyoming determined that over 80% of Wyomingites support medical cannabis, and over 70% support decriminalization.  The breakdown between the people and the policies seems to stem in part from these complementary but potentially deleterious qualities.  While the violent treatment of cannabis consumers by the hard-right in law enforcement is well known, the “live and let live” attitude of the populace combines with fear of such force and judgmental retribution by the ultra-conservatives to keep most people from speaking up or outwardly supporting reform efforts in spite of personal convictions.  Many are concerned that voicing their political opinions may yield employment conflicts.  On top of much public silence, one of the loudest, hardest to ignore, and most well-funded law enforcement groups (WASCOP – Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police) actively lobbies against change at every legislative session, committee meeting, and in between.  While their lobbyist is paid over $85,000 annually from their publicly funded coffer of over $2.5M to wine and dine elected officials, our board members crossed the state on their own dime to speak at the capitol about this issue that is so dear to them personally.  This is the atmosphere in which Wyoming NORML seeks to raise up volunteers and alter bad laws, and neither is an easy task.  For the second year in a row our focus was to prevent felony edible limits of cannabis products from being written into state law.  The state attorneys group and WASCOP have been fighting hard to establish a felony punishment at the level of a 3oz edible, and they have friends in the Judiciary Committee.

We touted our lobby day for months.  We encouraged every one of our supporters to volunteer on the date, to donate to our cause, and to interact with their legislators concerning marijuana law reform.  We set up easy to use mailing forms to effortlessly send messages to the Judiciary Committee that would first take up the bill we had targeted for defeat.  We used money donated by board members to buy hemp paper and printed off flyers personalized to each legislator expressing why the bill needed to be put to death.  We also had a ream of high quality hemp paper donated to the cause which we gave to a Wyoming printer to create nice little hemp paper scratch pads with the Wyoming NORML name and logo for our volunteers to hand out as they would speak with their representatives and senators.  We were ready.

Then came the horse apples in the road.  Our recruited printer had a family emergency and had to leave town before completing the job.  As is customary in Wyoming when travel is necessary for any pre-planned wintertime event weather interfered with roads across the state.  When our board members gathered on the morning of the lobby day at the beginning of the legislative session only one loyal volunteer showed up to help; we were planning on having close to twelve.  Instead of tossing the bill the committee accepted it and sent it to the Senate.  Some Senators said that they had never even heard from their constituents on the topic.  Then our board members had to return home.  We were very discouraged.  But…

At the eleventh hour a second printer in the same small Wyoming town was able to take on the task, complete it, and have the materials shipped overnight to Cheyenne where they were picked up by the one volunteer who brought them to the lobby day.  In spite of the weather three of our board members were able to attend the lobby day, and one returned with support to be present for each hearing of the bill as it moved through the legislative houses.  Both the Senate and House discussed the bill, and testimony was given of a legislator’s family member who illegally uses cannabis products for better health.  Another stated that he had moved from a position of supporting the felony bill to one of opposition after hearing from just a single voter about the desire they had for cannabis health products.  Though passed by the Senate, the bill was buried by the House and killed through neglect.  For two years running a small grassroots effort and a handful of volunteers have succeeded in defeating bad bills being pushed by powerful moneyed interests.

Let this encourage you.  Though few in open numbers and lacking much financial support we have been able to urge people and legislators sufficiently so as to move cannabis policy in the right direction in this religiously “Right” state each year since we have been organized as a focused group.  We are picking up members and interest is growing because people are seeing that change can be made and that speaking up without serious reprisal is possible.  People are influencing the minds of their legislators for the good of the movement and the health of our society.  This shows why interaction between voters and elected officials is so important as to be incapable of being understated.  We will see sensible cannabis policy in Wyoming, and with work from motivated citizens your state can as well.

Bennett Sondeno is the Treasurer of WY NORML

Follow WY NORML on Facebook, visit their website at http://www.wyomingnorml.org/ and make a contribution to support their work by clicking here.

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Virginia Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

MPP Blog - Mon, 03/12/2018 - 15:02

Last Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill into law expanding access for medical marijuana in Virginia. The law allows for practitioners to recommend CBD or THC-A oil for any condition they think would be beneficial to patients. Previously, only those suffering from intractable epilepsy could qualify for CBD or THC-A oil.

Additionally, the law allows any physician to recommend oil to his or her patients. Under the previous law, only neurologists and epilepsy specialists could give a recommendation for medical marijuana. HB 1251 is also considered emergency legislation and went into effect immediately.

We are excited about the many Virginia patients whose lives will be improved by this law.

The post Virginia Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Maryland Senate Approves Bill to Address Criminal Overcharging

MPP Blog - Fri, 03/09/2018 - 14:53

Back in 2014, Maryland lawmakers decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. Unfortunately, in some jurisdictions, people in possession of less than that amount are still being criminalized. Increasingly, some prosecutors are charging individuals with “possession with intent to distribute” — a felony — based on very limited evidence, like having their marijuana in more than one baggie (which could easily be because they purchased it that way or had a few different strains, rather than because they were selling it).

In order to address this overcharging, Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, introduced SB 128, which MPP supported. The bill just passed the Senate 45-1. The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.

SB 128 would simply create a legal presumption that people who have less than 10 grams should not be charged with possession with intent to distribute. Prosecutors could still make the case if there’s evidence of an intent to sell.

Even being arrested for a felony can have serious collateral consequences. For example, some jobs will suspend or fire employees immediately due to a felony arrest. Lawmakers intended to reduce the number of people caught up in the criminal justice system for having small amounts of marijuana — ask them to help fulfill that goal by passing this bill.

The post Maryland Senate Approves Bill to Address Criminal Overcharging appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/9/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 03/09/2018 - 12:42

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

First, I want to bring your attention to the dedicated activists lobbying in conjunction with Delaware NORML! Activists in Delaware lobbied state lawmakers in the capital on Thursday 3/8 in favor of a bill that would legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of adult use marijuana.

Also at the state level, voter support is growing for a proposed adult use ballot initiative in Michigan, as a recent poll found that 61 percent of voters say they would vote yes on the measure “if the election were held today.” Marijuana law reform advocates are continuing to gather signatures for voter-initiated efforts in Missouri and Utah. Proponents of a medical marijuana initiative in South Dakota have turned in their signatures and are awaiting a review by the Secretary of State’s office.

Additionally, New Jersey legislators heard testimony on legalization on Monday. And, Massachusetts marijuana regulators took another step towards the opening of retail cannabis shops, as they approved draft marijuana rules governing the industry and will begin accepting applications for retail outlets on April 1. It is still their intent to open adult use dispensary doors this summer.

Several marijuana related legislation died this week after failing to be voted on before crossover deadlines, including legalization and decriminalization bills in Hawaii. Florida and Washington state legislatures adjourned for this year, effectively killing FL decriminalization and patient protection efforts, and a WA bill to provide financial services to marijuana businesses.

At a more local level, the District Attorney’s Office for Sonoma County, California is directing staff to review and vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions. County officials estimate that approximately 3,000 cases are eligible for either a sentencing reduction or expungement. And, police in Juneau, Alaska announced that marijuana businesses can now transport product by airplane.

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

Rhode Island

Rep. Scott Slater (D) has introduced legislation, HB 7883, to place a non-binding marijuana legalization question on the state’s November ballot.

The proposal question would read: “Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”

RI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters weigh in

Illinois

Legislation is pending, SB 2275, to place a non-binding marijuana legalization question on the state’s November ballot.

The question posed to voters would read: “Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

Update: SB 2275 passed the Senate by a 37-13 vote on 3/1, and now awaits action from the House.

IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to let the people have a say

Maine

Legislation is pending, LD 1539, to greatly expand patients’ access to medical cannabis, as well as expand the pool of patients who are eligible.

Among changes proposed by the bill: Physicians would be able, at their sole discretion, to recommend cannabis therapy to any patient for whom they think it would benefit; Caregivers would be able to manage more than five patients at one time; Regulators would increase the total number of licensed dispensaries from eight to 14.

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

Kentucky

House Bill 166 was introduced by Rep. John Sims Jr. [D] to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions. Additional legislation, Senate Bill 118, is also pending to allow medical marijuana use in the Commonwealth.

If passed, these bills would provide patients with regulated access to medical cannabis via licensed providers.

Update: The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on HB 166 on 3/6, and then decided to  table the bill for this session as a result of strong opposition from law enforcement. SB 118 is still awaiting action from the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection Committee.

KY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

Tennessee

Senator Sara Kyle (D) and Representative Larry Miller have introduced legislation SB 2320 and HB 2391 seeking to place a ballot initiative before voters with regard to the legalization of medical marijuana.

If passed, these bills would place the following advisory question on the November 2018 ballot: “Should the Tennessee legislature approve the use of medical marijuana?”

Update: HB 2391 was placed on the Local Government subcommittee calendar for 3/14/18. SB 2320 was put on the final calendar for The Senate State & Local Government Committee, date TBD.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters decide

State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) are sponsoring legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program.

The measure permits qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/14. SB 1710 is still awaiting action from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

New York

Legislation is pending, A 9945, to expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana.

The measure waives administrative fees for patients who are veterans and/or who have been ‘honorably discharged’ from military service.

NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of better access for veterans

 

Additional Actions to Take

New Jersey

Legislation is pending, A3535, that would limit certain employers from discriminating against employees based solely upon their testing positive for marijuana on a drug test.

The bill “prohibits businesses receiving financial assistance from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority from taking any adverse employment action against an employee or prospective employee based upon a finding that the employee or prospective employee has used or tested positive for the use of marijuana” off the job.

NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment protections for consumers

Rhode Island

Legislation is pending, H 7899, to protect state-registered medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

The measure reads: “It shall be unlawful for any employer to refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against a person with respect to any terms, conditions or privileges of employment, or any other matter directly or indirectly related to employment because of their status as a cardholder, including because of a positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless the patient cardholder possessed marijuana or was impaired on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment.”

RI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment protections for patients

Indiana

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 52, to legalize the possession, use, manufacture, and retail sale of cannabidiol products.

Update: HB 1214 was passed by the Senate by a 37-12 vote with amendments on 3/6, and now will be sent back to the House for approval. The House dissented from the Senate’s amendments on HB 1214 on 3/7, meaning they do not agree with the Senate’s proposed changes. A conference committee of two members from each house were appointed to work out a version of the bill that will be satisfactory to both houses.

IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

Idaho

Legislation is pending, HB 410, to provide “for the lawful use and possession of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD), if prescribed by a (licensed) practitioner.” Similar legislation, HB 577, is also pending, and already passed the House last month.

Update: Members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved a motion to hold HB 577 in committee on 3/5 — a legislative procedure essentially halting the bill from moving forward. They then voted on 3/6 to vacate the decision to halt HB 577 from moving forward because the motion violated procedure.

ID resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

Oklahoma

Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens has introduced HB 2913: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. If passed, this bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes.

Update: HB 2913 passed the House by a 92-0 vote on 3/5, and now awaits action in the Senate.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program. It already passed the Senate last month.

Update: The House Committee on Agriculture is holding a hearing on SB 263 on Wednesday, 3/14 at 3:30pm in Room 582-N.

KS resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

Indiana

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1137 to authorize the Indiana state department of agriculture to establish an agricultural pilot program to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp and industrial hemp products.

Update: Senate lawmakers decided on a voice vote on 3/2 to significantly amend HB 1137. As amended, farmers would no longer have the opportunity to grow hemp. Instead, lawmakers have suggested a summer study session to consider the prospect of moving forward with a hemp research program. The changes came after Gov. Eric Holcolm voiced his opposition to the bill.

Then, the bill was passed by the Senate 43 to 6, and was sent back to the House to approve the amendments. The House filed a motion to dissent on 3/7, meaning they do not agree with the Senate’s amendments to HB 1137. Now, a conference committee of two members from each house were appointed to work out a version of the bill that will be satisfactory to both houses.

IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp research

Missouri

Legislation is pending, SB 547 and HB 2034, seeking to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp.

If passed, the bills would 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: The Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee approved SB 547 on 3/6, and is scheduled to be considered before the full Senate on 3/12.

MO resident? Click here to email your Senators in support of industrial hemp modifications

Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

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DEA twitter account promotes Anslinger

DrugWarRant - Fri, 03/09/2018 - 08:27

Via Tom Angell

Harry Anslinger helped bring drug law enforcement into the modern age. He served as head of US drug enforcement for 5 presidents from #Hoover to #Kennedy, retiring in 1962 More: https://t.co/OTLWiT6ZL7 Visit the @DEAHQ Museum: https://t.co/9WNOT5ZSLR #TBT #ThrowbackThursday pic.twitter.com/trZfqb29iL

— DEA HQ (@DEAHQ) March 8, 2018

Tom responds

https://twitter.com/tomangell/status/971840775939149824

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