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AAA Is Doubling Down On Their Marijuana Distortions

NORML Blog - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 13:48

First, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of you who responded to NORML’s request to contact the American Automobile Association and urged them to “stop lying about marijuana legalization.”

But even as public and media pressure grows, AAA affiliates are doubling down on their reefer madness rhetoric.

At a recent AAA Texas-sponsored event, attendees were falsely told that drivers testing positive possess a 25-fold risk of accident compared to sober drivers. But the actual study cited by AAA concluded nothing of the sort. Rather, the study in question — conducted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — determined that THC-positive drivers possessed virtually no statistically significant risk of motor vehicle accident compared to drug negative drivers.

Similarly, AAA Mid-Atlantic is continuing to distort the truth about cannabis. Despite having been provided with peer-reviewed evidence to the contrary, a recent reply by their Director of Public and Government Affairs office shows that the agency is refusing to listen to the facts with regard to cannabis regulation and traffic safety.

“We are deeply concerned that lawmakers are considering the legalization of recreational marijuana,” the AAA’s response states. “AAA opposes the legalization … of marijuana for recreational use because of its negative traffic safety implications.”

Yet, recent studies of federal crash data find that changes in the legal status of cannabis are not associated with a rise in traffic fatalities – and, in some instances, regulating cannabis has been associated with a reduction in deadly motor vehicle crashes.

Send AAA the facts in a message now

Nonetheless, AAA Mid-Atlantic opines, “The problem of drugged driving … will only get worse if [a] state legalizes it for recreational use.”

AAA further argues that a 2015 Governors Highway Safety report finds that “drugs were present in … fatally-injured drivers with known test results, appearing more frequently than alcohol.” However, AAA fails to acknowledge that the Governors report was primarily highlighting a rise in the presence of prescription medications and over-the-counter medications in fatally injured drivers. As acknowledged by the paper’s authors: “For this report, a drug is any substance that can impair driving. There are four categories of drugs: illegal drugs, legal non-medical drugs, prescription medications, [and] over-the counter medicines.” The Governors’ report also fails to identify whether the drug-positive drivers identified by the study were either impaired at the time of the crash or even culpable for the accident.

Further, the Governors’ report has fallen under scathing public criticism from other traffic safety groups, including MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), who publicly repudiated its interpretations. “There is no way you can say that drugs have overtaken alcohol as the biggest killer on the highway,” MADD responded. “The data is not anywhere close to being in a way that would suggest that.”

They’re correct. Specifically, a 2014 review of US fatal traffic accident data by researchers at the Pacific Research Institute in Maryland reported definitively that alcohol remains a greater contributor to crash risk than all other drugs combined, concluding: “Alcohol was not only found to be an important contributor to fatal crash risk, … it was associated with fatal crash risk levels significantly higher than those for other drugs. … The much higher crash risk of alcohol compared with that of other drugs suggests that in times of limited resources, efforts to curb drugged driving should not reduce our efforts to pass and implement effective alcohol-related laws and policies.”

If we are going to achieve sane policy solutions in regards to cannabis reform, it is essential that we call out those who seek to deceive the public, even if we appreciate their roadside assistance.

Take Action:

Tell AAA to stop spreading disinformation on the impacts of legalization.

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FDA Seeking Public Comments On CBD

NORML Blog - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 08:58

On Regulations.Gov, right now, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is soliciting public comments with regard to the therapeutic utility and abuse liability of various controlled substances, including cannabidiol (CBD).

The agency will consider these comments prior to preparing a formal response to the World Health Organization, which is considering placing the substances within their international drug scheduling code.

Now, to be frank, it’s a little silly that the FDA is seeking public comment on a topic that would normally be judged based on the merits of evidence-based science and data. But prohibition itself would be considered silly if not for the detrimental effects of a criminal record and lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.

That being said, cannabidiol is defined by the US Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I controlled substance, despite:

  • Its therapeutic properties and lack of abuse potential, despite the safety trials which have determined the substance to be non-toxic and well-tolerated in human subjects
  • Seventeen states explicitly recognizing by state-law that CBD as a therapeutic agent
  • The head of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse publically acknowledging that CBD is “a safe drug with no addictive effects” 

So a request for public comment should never go unfulfilled. So we made it incredibly easy for you to do so.

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT FORMAL COMMENTS TO THE FDA NOW

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Congressman O’Rourke Introduces Amendment To End Arbitrary License Suspensions

NORML Blog - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 12:39

Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) with Representatives Amash (R-MI), Jeffries (D-NY), Nadler (D-NY) have introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill that the House is expected to take up next month. The amendment would eliminate the funding for enforcement of Section 159 of title 23, which reduces highway funding for states if they did not automatically suspend drivers licenses of anyone convicted of a drug offense.

This amendment is similar to the Better Drive Act, which Congressman O’Rourke introduced in April. The Better Drive Act removes the federal mandate that demands states to suspend the driver’s license of individuals with a marijuana possession conviction. Currently, any drug conviction, regardless of whether or not the motor vehicle was involved, results in an automatic suspension of the individual’s driving privileges for a period of six months.

Enacted over 25 years ago as a part of the so-called “War on Drugs,” this mandate imposed on states does not improve highway safety or help people address substance abuse. Rather, it had the opposite effect, as this mandate ends up costing minor offenders their ability to get to work and to school, and other undue economic hardships.

By adding an amendment to eliminate the financial penalty against states who do not follow the federal mandate, O’Rourke and his co-sponsors are pushing to ease the burdens against those whom are convicted for simple marijuana possession.

Click here to send a message to you member of the House to support the amendment and companion legislation, The Better Drive Act.

Texas resident? Congressman Beto O’Rourke has been working closely with Texas NORML to address federal reform. Click here to find out more about Texas NORML and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Tennessee Has Organized a Medical Marijuana Committee

MPP Blog - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 08:32

House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally formed a committee to study the potential impacts of legalizing medical marijuana in Tennessee.

The committee will be chaired by Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, and Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, who has been a staunch advocate for medical marijuana in the Volunteer State.

Speaker Harwell has recently said she is “open” to considering a law allowing medical marijuana in Tennessee and has launched a House task force to fight the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that states with medical marijuana laws are associated with a significant reduction in mortality from opioid abuse; these states saw a 25% reduction in opioid overdose deaths, compared to states without such laws.

The post Tennessee Has Organized a Medical Marijuana Committee appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Alaska Publishes Proposed Rules for Cannabis Cafés

MPP Blog - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 07:18

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board published proposed rules for cannabis cafés. Please take a look and consider submitting written comments in support.

It’s important for the board to hear that the public wants adults to be allowed to consume cannabis at regulated establishments.

Comments are due by October 27 at 4:30 p.m., and they may be submitted by email to amco.regs@alaska.gov, or by regular mail. For more information on making submissions, please see the state’s public notice, available online here. While comments are not due until late October, we strongly encourage you to submit them early so that board members have time to review and consider submissions.

Under the current proposal, the state would allow cannabis flowers to be purchased and consumed on-site by vaporization or smoking, one gram at a time. Concentrates would not be available. Cannabis edibles and food that does not contain cannabis could also be available. A newly proposed addition to the rules would ensure cannabis café workers are not exposed to marijuana smoke while on duty.

The status quo is unworkable for the state’s tourists, and adult residents should not be relegated to private homes when alcohol consumers can choose from a variety of bars and restaurants. It is also important to ensure renters — whose leases may prohibit cannabis consumption — are not shut out of the freedoms Alaskan homeowners enjoy.

The post Alaska Publishes Proposed Rules for Cannabis Cafés appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Bianca Jagger To Receive Second Annual Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award

NORML Blog - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 04:16

Bianca Jagger

International human rights advocate Bianca Jagger will be in Washington, DC on Monday, September 11, 2017, to receive the Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), at our annual conference.

The inscription on the award reads as follows: “To Bianca Jagger, in recognition of your lifetime commitment to achieving social justice for all people, especially those without the resources or social standing to achieve justice on their own. Your willingness to speak for the underdog, the disenfranchised and the unpopular, like Michael Kennedy himself, has defined your exemplary personal and professional life.”

She campaigns to end capital punishment and violence against women and girls, and advocates for the rights of indigenous peoples and future generations.

She is founder, president and chief executive of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, which she established in 2005 to be a force for change and a voice for the most vulnerable. She is Council of Europe Good Will Ambassador, a member of the executive director’s Leadership Council for Amnesty International USA, IUCN Bonn Challenge Ambassador; and Senior Fellow, Center for International Governance Innovation

Bianca Jagger was born in Managua, Nicaragua in 1950 and left her native country when she was 17 to study political science in Paris with a scholarship from the French government. Her human rights advocacy has taken her to many countries, including Nicaragua, Honduras, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq; and she has been the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Right Livelihood Award (2004) also known as the “alternative Nobel prize”.

Other awards have included The United Nations Earth Day International Award (1994); The Abolitionist of the Year Award by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (1996); The Amnesty International USAA Media Spotlight Award for Leadership (1997); The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Champion of Justice award (2000); The American Civil Liberties Award (1998); the World Achievement Award (2004); and the World Citizenship Award from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

The Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award, named after the late Michael J. Kennedy, the legendary civil rights and criminal defense attorney (and general counsel to High Times magazine from its inception in 1974 until his death in early 2016), was established with the blessing of the Kennedy family to honor those individuals who, like Michael Kennedy, dedicate their lives to advancing the cause of social justice in America. Eleanora Kennedy, Michael’s widow, and their daughter Anna Safir, will speak at the ceremony, reminding us of Michael’s 40-year support for NORML and our mission to legalize marijuana.

The award will be presented to Ms. Jagger by nationally known civil rights and criminal rights lawyer Gerald H. Goldstein, the first recipient of this award in 2016.

Those interested can purchase tickets to the 2017 NORML Conference and Congressional Lobby Day here.

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Pardon

DrugWarRant - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 16:28

Remember how we gave President Obama such a hard time about delaying on giving pardons to so many people who had received such harsh sentences for non-violent drug crimes? And how it wasn’t until the end of his second term that he really stepped up the pardons?

Well, President Trump isn’t waiting. According to CNN, President Trump has pardoned… Joe Arpaio???

Sheesh.

President Donald Trump has pardoned controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio of his conviction for criminal contempt, the White House said Friday night.

Martin Redish, writing in the New York Times, isn’t so sure… Why Trump Can’t Pardon Arpaio

This is uncharted territory. Yes, on its face the Constitution’s pardon power would seem unlimited. And past presidents have used it with varying degrees of wisdom, at times in ways that would seem to clash with the courts’ ability to render justice. But the Arpaio case is different: The sheriff was convicted of violating constitutional rights, in defiance of a court order involving racial profiling. Should the president indicate that he does not think Mr. Arpaio should be punished for that, he would signal that governmental agents who violate judicial injunctions are likely to be pardoned, even though their behavior violated constitutional rights, when their illegal actions are consistent with presidential policies.

Many legal scholars argue that the only possible redress is impeachment — itself a politicized, drawn-out process. But there may be another route. If the pardon is challenged in court, we may discover that there are, in fact, limits to the president’s pardon power after all.

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Denver Businesses Applying for Social Consumption Permits

MPP Blog - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 09:39

In November 2016, Denver voters approved a measure that allows local businesses to apply for permits to set aside areas for marijuana consumption by their customers. Now, after months of conflict over the extremely restrictive nature of the rules, the city is accepting applications.

Advocates are still decrying the regulations, however, saying that the rules are designed to make it almost impossible for most businesses to take part. In particular, they are concerned that a requirement that applicants be at least 1,000 feet from a variety of educational, treatment, and public facilities, including city parks, eliminates most potential applicants and is unfair when compared to much less restrictive buffer zones for businesses that sell alcohol. Locals are considering a lawsuit against the city to address this issue.

The post Denver Businesses Applying for Social Consumption Permits appeared first on MPP Blog.

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American Legion Resolves In Support Of Expanding Veterans’ Access to Medicinal Cannabis

NORML Blog - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 08:02

The American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, has adopted a resolution calling on federal officials to expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana.

The resolution, passed yesterday at the Legion’s annual convention, urges the “United States government to permit VA medical providers to be able to discuss with veterans the use of marijuana for medical purposes and recommend it in those states where medical marijuana laws exist.”

The language is similar to pending legislation in Congress, H.R. 1820: The Veterans Equal Access Act. In July, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24 to 7 to include similar language as an amendment to the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Identical language in the House was blocked from consideration by House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX).

Last year, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 MilCon-VA bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to strip the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

Federal policy prohibits V.A. doctors – including those residing in legal medical cannabis states – from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. 

Both the American Legion and AMVETS issued public calls last year for federal marijuana law reforms. Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications to treat conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress

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Medical Marijuana Protections Offered Again, But Will They Receive A Vote?

NORML Blog - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 12:11

This week, Representatives Dana Rohrabacher, Earl Blumenauer, and allies in the House of Representatives have again offered the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment to protect lawful state medical marijuana programs from the federal government. Specifically, it would limit the Justice Department from taking action against state-sanctioned medical cannabis producers, retailers, or consumers.

Although the amendment was reauthorized by Congress in May, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been aggressively lobbying leadership to ignore the provisions. At the time, President Trump issued a signing statement objecting to the Rohrbacher-Blumenauer provision.

Nonetheless, support for the Rohrbacher-Blumenauer protection amendment has only grown in recent years. House members initially passed the amendment as a budgetary rider in 2014 by a vote of 219 to 189. By the following year, 242 House members voted in support of the language.

To date, the language has not been included in the base appropriations bill and in every case of its passage, it has required being added as a separate rider by a vote on the floor of the House.

Now, Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions may deny the democratic process and not allow the amendment to be considered for a full vote of the House.

You can send an email to your Representative now to urge their support and co-sponsorship of the amendment by clicking HERE.

In July, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee, meaning that the language will be considered in a conference committee should the House be denied the opportunity to express it’s support for the 30 states which have legalized medical marijuana and 16 states that have authorized CBD oil access.

Finally, join us for our 2017 National Conference and Lobby Day to speak with your elected officials and their staffers in person, September 10th – 12th. Click here to find out more and get your tickets. 

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Oakland’s Marijuana Equity Permit Program

NORML Blog - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 06:53

In March of this year, Oakland City Council implemented the Equity Permit Program for marijuana businesses. This program is designed to address the past disparities in the cannabis industry by giving priority to the victims of the war on drugs and minimizing barriers of entry into the industry. Ultimately, their goal is to remove the barriers for those who have been wronged in the past and level the playing field in the medical cannabis arena. From their research developing this program, the Oakland City Council discovered that over the past 20 years, the Black community has been dramatically overrepresented in cannabis-related arrests–reaching as high as 90% of all these arrests at one point in time.  

To qualify as an Equity applicant, the individual must be an Oakland resident who has an annual income at less than 80 percent of the Oakland Average Medium Income and either has a past marijuana conviction in Oakland or has lived for ten of the last twenty years in police beats that experienced a disproportionately higher amount of law enforcement. Additionally, the Equity applicants are not required to pay the permit application fee.

Since the access to affordable rent and business locations is a huge barrier, Oakland’s medical cannabis regulations created the Equity Incubator Program. Under this program, general applicants receive permitting priority if they provide Equity applicants with free rent for a minimum of 1,000 square feet of space to operate their business.

Overall, Oakland is addressing the discrimination within the cannabis industry that has plagued their city for far too long. Though the program may not be perfect, they are setting an example of how to begin to address marijuana-related oppression that has impacted historically marginalized groups.

You can find more information from the City of Oakland by clicking HERE.

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WA NORML: 2017 State of the Session Report

NORML Blog - Wed, 08/23/2017 - 12:41

WASHINGTON STATE: For the first time Washington NORML had a regular lobbyist in Olympia this year. The truth is NORML has almost always been staffed by volunteer activists. That’s what I was, at a NORML chapter in Missouri, interning for NORML’s national office in Washington DC, and later as head of NORML’s Thurston County chapter. The reward I got from it was doing the right thing, great stories, and lifelong friends. (Oh, as an intern NORML reimbursed subway fare.)

I was shocked when Kevin Oliver, the head of Washington NORML, said he’d raised some money to hire a lobbyist. But the professional he had in mind wanted it all, and didn’t believe the legislature would pass home growing of cannabis by adults, so wasn’t going to try. I promised to do it for much less, and give a damn about the things recreational consumers care about because I was one. I’ve lobbied as a citizen, but doing this as a job was another level.

Lobbying part time along with a second job I got up close and personal with a lot of bills. What did I do, and what changed? My focus this session broke down into five areas:

  • Securing fair permitting for on-site cannabis use by for adults 21 and older. A draft bill to allow special permits for marijuana consumption events was drafted and shopped around to various members. Despite bipartisan interest failed to find a primary sponsor in time. However, a previous bill to allow cigar bars may be adapted to include marijuana on-site consumption. This leaves two avenues for social use, at a time that the policy is expanding among legal cannabis states.
  • Securing cannabis homegrow protections and establishing a system of seed/clone sale for adults 21 and older. Two bills were heard this session to legalize personal cultivation, HB 1092 & 1212. HB 1212 passed unanimously out of Commerce & Gaming, and through the Rules review to the Finance committee, the farthest any such bill has progressed in the state. I searched for a sponsor for a draft bill to allow seed/clone sales to adults, making the law continent on personal cultivation being enacted this year. Apathy in the state senate slowed progress along with lingering questions about enforcement needs and federal intervention. In SB5131, the LCB has been mandated to produce a report on personal cultivation for the legislature by December. Beyond submitting information and rallying stakeholders, WA NORML will be looking for the best ways to raise consumer influence in this report, without which, it’s recommendations may not be trustworthy.
  • Promote taxation/regulatory reforms that will benefit adult cannabis consumers. With the passage of an organic-like certification for cannabis products, legalized sharing/gifting of cannabis, expanded hemp access and use in consumer products, and regulation of infused edible production that is closer to other food industries, there are several ways in which the legal consumer will be better off with the changes in this session. Particularly the sharing/gifting of cannabis, while not a source of many arrests, remained a blindspot and common complaint against our legal framework.
  • Promote reforms that will increase access and security in the sale of medically affordable compliant cannabis to patients/caregivers.  Patient access to legal clones/seeds will be larger due to laws passed this year. Involving a rules process takes time, new laws will bring greater availability and stability to patients and caregivers producing their own medicine. Similarly to regular consumers, patients will also benefit from the organic-like certification, as recreational plant testing is often deemed inadequate for patient needs. Maddie’s Law, which would assist patient-students medicating on school property passed the house with broad support, and initially had senate momentum, but senate leadership halted progress and kept the bill from a floor vote. However, it’s simple change and broad popularity leave it well positioned to be addressed in the future, particularly as the U.S. Congress has maintained a ban on DEA interference in state-legal medical programs.
  • Working to improve legislation where possible and oppose when necessary. An unfortunate reality is that some of the biggest victories this year were stopping damaging bills or amendments. In other cases objections were ignored. Nonetheless, opposition to billboard bans, increased public consumption penalties, increased packaging/concentrate penalties, banning of bitcoin, and retail bans in Alcohol Impact Areas helped keep these issues from advancing. Other areas like out-of-state financial stake, or increased licensee fees were opposed but amended into other legislation. While not perfect, success in stopping bad legislation is crucial to stemming any prohibition resurgence.

Most of my efforts were on HB1212, HB1060, ESSB5131, and searching for sponsors for two draft bills on seed sale and social use permitting. I also testified, signed in with a position available to answer questions at legislative hearings, submitted written materials, or spoke with lawmakers about the following bills:

Medical Cannabis Bills- 

Pro: HB1098, HB1094, HB1060/SB5290, HB2021 Con: SB5933

Recreational Cannabis Bill-

Pro: HB1092, HB1099, HB1212, HB1124, HB1461/SB5323, HB1462 (enacted)/SB5324 Con: HB1416, HB1065, HB1151, SB5282 Other: HB1250 (enacted)

Hemp Bills-

Pro: HB1692 Other: HB2064 (enacted)

Research/Misc. Bills-

Pro: HB1895 Other: SB5131 (enacted)

Changes from Enacted bills- 

HB2064- Removing industrial hemp from the scope of the uniform controlled substances act.

Removing hemp from Washington’s CSA is positive in that it makes an ecologically and industrially beneficial plant available. However it’s lack of rules damage long term viability of the industry and outdoor cannabis grows with the risk of cross-pollination, absence of certified seed programs, and absent research component as required by Sec. 7606 of the federal Farm Bill. Amendments in SB5131, and recent rules proposed by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, should establish some hemp licensing, research parameters, and use in marijuana products but a seed certification program still depends on some federal cooperation.

HB1250- Authorizing retail marijuana outlets to give a free lockable drug box to adults age twenty-one years and over and to qualifying patients age eighteen years and over subject to restrictions.

By updating RCW 69.50.357, this bill allows retailers to “donate the lockable boxes and provide the related literature to any person eligible to purchase marijuana products” that they receive from a third party entity. Nothing in the law requires person eligible to buy anything in order to receive a lockbox and literature, and retailers are allowed to sell lockboxes (assuming they weren’t donated to the retailer) as well as distribute lockboxes that have been donated. I lobbied for the term “upon request” to be added so that consumers who actively want to store cannabis in lockboxes will get them versus the first customer offered a free item.

HB1462- Adding authority to the department of agriculture to regulate sanitary processing of marijuana-infused edibles.

This bill creates an edible endorsement for processors and greater authority for the Dept. of Agriculture to regulate infused edibles similar to that agencies other food handling regulation. While edible production was within the scope of licensed processors with approved facilities, those licensees will now need this endorsement with a separate application/renewal process all edible sales. This will involve Dept. of Agriculture adopting rules specifically for marijuana edibles, with an understanding “Such rules must be written and interpreted to be consistent with rules adopted by the board [LCB] and the department of health.” By April 1st, 2018 rules will regulate edibles similar to other food handling licenses with some exceptions including:

  • issuance of the endorsement in lieu of a food processing license through the Dept. of Ag. business licensing system;
  • separate penalty schedule to operate in addition to the penalty schedule of the LCB;
  • must be obtained by any licensee that “processes, packages, or makes marijuana-infused edibles;”
  • endorsement renewal will coincide with marijuana processors license renewal, but must already hold processors license before initial issuance.
  • The licensee needs a separate endorsement for each location, and no facility can be used to process non-marijuana infused foods except “solely for tasting samples or internal product testing.”

SB5131- Addressing provisions concerning marijuana with respect to research licenses, local authority notifications, the retail licensing application process, processor wholesale events, and jurisdictional requirements.

Just signed into law by Gov. Inslee. I’ve written extensively on this bill for MJNewsNetwork, and have described it as “omnicannabis” because it is multiple bills addressing a wide variety of issues. Here’s a brief overview of what it does:

-Medical Garden Access: Allows licensed marijuana producers to sell immature cannabis plants, clones, and seeds to qualifying patients who enter the state’s medical marijuana database. A close reading of Sec. 11 suggests authorized but unregistered patients may be able to buy seeds, this may be allowed or banned by LCB rules process.

   -Homegrow Report: The LCB must examine the viability of allowing recreational users to grow their own marijuana, with the enforcement priorities outlined in the Cole Memo as the central guidelines for their recommendation.

-Retail License Limit: A retailer or individual “with a financial or other ownership interest in” a retail license can own up to five retail licenses.

-Forfeiting Licenses: Require the LCB forfeit retail licenses which have been issued but are not operational and open to the public unless the delay is due to circumstances beyond the licensee’s control, for example if the licensee has been unable to open because of a local moratorium, ban, or because zoning, licensing or other regulatory measures prevent it from opening.

-Gifting Marijuana: Adults can deliver marijuana each other in half the legal possession amounts so long as the pot is offered as a gift without financial remuneration so long as the marijuana shared is either in it’s original packaging, or not in public view.

-Tribal Oversight: The LCB must get approval from a federally recognized Indian Tribe prior to granting a license on tribal land.

-Licensing Contracts & Disclosure: Allow a licensees to enter into agreements or consulting contracts “with any individual, partnership, employee cooperative, association, nonprofit corporation, or corporation” for goods or services, trademarks, trade secrets or proprietary information. The agreement must be disclosed to the LCB, but various information and financial considerations are exempt from the state’s Public Disclosure Act.

-Organic-Equivalent Pot: The LCB is instructed to adopt regulations for marijuana similar to products federally certified as organic. The LCB will implement regulations for marijuana to be grown similar to organic products. These products will have a uniform title and labeling.

-Processing Hemp: The LCB must study the viability of letting licensed processors process industrial hemp. This may lead to legislation to allow processors to purchase plant material from farmers licensed to grow hemp.

-Advertising: Significant changes focused on advertising to kids. Prohibits licensees from taking “any action directly or indirectly to target youth in the advertising, promotion, or marketing of marijuana and marijuana products, or take any action the primary purpose of which is to initiate, maintain, or increase the incidence of youth use of marijuana or marijuana products.” This includes prohibiting toys, movie/cartoon characters, or images that would pique underage interest in pot. It also bans using commercial mascots, as defined to mean “a live human being, animal, or mechanical device used for attracting the attention of motorists and passersby so as to make them aware of marijuana products or the presence of a marijuana business.” This covers staff in costume, inflatable tube displays, or sign spinners. Cities and counties can further restrict advertising, but must enforce extra limits themselves.

  -Billboards: A marijuana retailer may now only use a billboard to identify the name or nature of the business and directions to its location. Outdoor signs could not contain depictions of marijuana plants, products, or images that appeal to children. Outdoor advertising would be prohibited in “arenas, stadiums, shopping malls, fairs that receive state allocations, farmers markets, and video game arcades.” An exception allows outdoor advertising at adult-only events.

As you see, I got a lot done, and I had help and support, but faced off with a lot of professional lobbyists whose careers or relationships in Olympia go a long way. There are bad lobbyists and corrupt special interests. But typically, with them comes big money and disproportionate influence. I talked with a woman earlier this year who said she wouldn’t trust any marijuana activist that got paid to lobby. I told her I understood, then shook her hand and told her I hoped she had just met one she could trust. I hope being open and clear about what I did, didn’t do, or hoped to do offers a small gesture that I mean well, even if I’m not the slickest salesman ever. Cannabis consumers care about fair influence after generations of laws being made ABOUT them but not WITH them.

Are there other lobbyists publicize the oversight of themselves? Maybe, but I’ve never met any who did. In my first article about my lobbying here at MJNewsNetwork, I explained that you can find my lobbyist reporting to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission here: 

I’m honored and humbled that any group would pay me to lobby for better pot laws. I dream of doing that more often than gaining online fame. But between my wife and me, we have a full time job, three part time jobs, and one car to get us to them. My payment from Washington NORML is a matter of record, and has been very generous, but it’s not making me rich.

That’s fine, my getting rich is not the point. Our fight is far from over, but the battlefield is different, and organizing protests or petitions is costlier and won’t engage a voting public that largely finds pot accessible and available. Traditional lobbying carries risks, no doubt, and it’s not the same as flipping off the status quo for it’s many oppressive practices. But supporting consumer lobbying is going to get more wins in legal states than future statewide ballot efforts. The point is that the marijuana community should work together and support traditional lobbying in places with legal pot. It’s not as exciting or visible, but it’s crucial.

The problem with gains is they have to be maintained. I’ll be speaking up for home grow, or any other legislation that makes sense next year, no matter what. I don’t know if WA NORML will have support to pay me, or anyone, to lobby. I’ll do what I can, but don’t know what time I’ll have left to do it. This has always been the struggle of volunteer activists, but these are gains worth maintaining, hopefully cannabis consumers will support WA NORML the way WA NORML has supported them (and me).

Follow WA NORML of Facebook and Twitter

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HUD Secretary Ben Carson Spreads Marijuana Myths

NORML Blog - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 06:36

Photo Credit: Carlo Allegri

Giving remarks to the Native American Housing Association, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson strayed into the marijuana reform debate. Unfortunately, the doctor did not know his facts.

Per the Flathead Beacon:

The HUD secretary briefly strayed from his prepared remarks to note that he believed marijuana use was just as problematic as opiate abuse.

“I’m not all that enthusiastic about marijuana because there have been numerous studies that show exposing a developing brain to marijuana can lead to lower IQs,” he said. “We already have enough people with a low IQ, and we don’t need anymore.”

The ongoing stereotype of marijuana consumers may be funny in movies, but it runs counter to evidence based science.

NORML has reported on three studies over the last year and a half that have come out dispelling this myth.

In London, United Kingdom, researchers concluded, “In summary, the notion that cannabis use itself is causally related to lower IQ and poorer educational performance was not supported in this large teenage sample.”

Data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led researchers to conclude: “In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, … we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline. … [T]he lack of a dose-response relationship, and an absence of meaningful differences between discordant siblings lead us to conclude that the deficits observed in marijuana users are attributable to confounding factors that influence both substance initiation and IQ rather than a neurotoxic effect of marijuana.”

Researchers published in the journal Addiction wrote: “[W]e found that youth who used cannabis … had lower IQ at age 18, but there was little evidence that cannabis use was associated with IQ decline from age 12 to 18. Moreover, although cannabis use was associated with lower IQ and poorer executive functions at age 18, these associations were generally not apparent within pairs of twins from the same family, suggesting that family background factors explain why adolescents who use cannabis perform worse on IQ and executive function tests.”

Investigators concluded, “Short-term cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to cause IQ decline or impair executive functions, even when cannabis use reaches the level of dependence.”

Their findings are consistent with those of several other studies – including those here, here, and here– finding that cannabis use alone during adolescence does not appear to have a significant, direct adverse effect on intelligence quotient.

Further, as to Secretary Carson’s remarks in the context of the nations opioid epidemic, it is important to note that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

Don’t let those who speak in outdated rhetoric fool you. Stay vigilant against those who maintain the systems of prohibitionist oppression.

Click here to tell your member of Congress to join the newly formed Congressional Cannabis Caucus, to find real policy solutions to reforming our nations marijuana laws in our quest to deschedule the plant. 

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Translating A Victory From Citywide to Statewide

NORML Blog - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 12:57

NORML KC

Originally, NORML KC formed to focus on the criminal penalties. We looked towards fellow Missouri towns such as Columbia and St. Louis which had already decriminalized, and we wanted Kansas City to join those municipalities on a more progressive and tolerant path. Our initial goal was to reduce the current penalties in Kansas City for cannabis possession, remove the threat of jail time, and significantly lower the fine amount for less than 35 grams.

On April 4th of this year, after months of building our coalitions, speaking at town halls, and utilizing media and community outreach, Kansas Citians came out to show their support at the ballot box. We all watched as the results came in and Question 5 was overwhelmingly supported by 75 percent! That number is a remarkable achievement, especially considering the local newspaper, The Kansas City Star, and Mayor Sly James came out against the measure.

Question 5 Passed With Over 75% of the VoteNow, as we approach our chapter’s two-year anniversary at the end of August, we have a victory in hand and our sights are now set statewide for access.

Our grassroots group had little funding and was mainly supported by a core group of dedicated volunteers and activists who worked tirelessly gathering petition signatures to place the initiative on the ballot. We had many roadblocks and opportunities to give up, but instead, we chose to fight harder. Not only did we prove that Kansas Citians were ready to reform the city’s unjust marijuana laws, we also proved what a small group of committed activists could accomplish with passion and support from the National NORML chapter.

But we’re not going to stop there, because the result at the voting booth on April 4th is only the beginning of our success in Kansas City, and across the state of Missouri.

We are now taking the lessons of the ballot initiative and working with New Approach Missouri, a statewide medical cannabis initiative. The campaign is off to a strong start and has already collected over 50,000 signatures statewide. NORML KC is excited to be supporting this important effort, together with the other Missouri NORML chapters. United, we will bring positive change to our community and beyond.

Click here to support NORML KC’s work with a contribution

As part of this effort, we will be joining our fellow activists from across the country this September for the National NORML Conference and Lobby Day.

There, we will participate in a day of panels, trainings, and briefings to both better equip us with the knowledge and confidence we need to engage members of Congress and bring back the experiences from NORML chapters throughout the country back to Missouri to be more effective in our home state.

At this critical time in our nation’s history, we have reached an inflection point and it is essential to build the organization and power. If we could do it in KC – why not MO or DC?

Thanks for all that you have done, are doing, and will do in the future. We’re only going to win when we work together.

Jamie Kacz is the Executive Director of NORM KC, and the architect of the successful 2017 ballot initiative which decriminalized marijuana in Kansas City.

Click here to support NORML KC’s work with a contribution

You can follow NORML KC on Facebook and Twitter

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UPDATE: Virginia Marijuana Decriminalization Forum Rescheduled

MPP Blog - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 09:33

The Virginia State Crime Commission has rescheduled its meeting to present its findings on marijuana decriminalization. It’s important that advocates attend this meeting and show that Virginians support sensible marijuana policies.

What: Virginia State Crime Commission public meeting to present its findings on marijuana decriminalization

When: Monday, October 30, at 1 p.m.

Where: House Committee Room, Ground Floor, Room W011, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Maine Street, Richmond, VA

Don’t forget that the Commission is still accepting written comment on marijuana decriminalization. The specific issues it’s examining are available here. Make sure to submit your comments by Friday, August 23, at 5 p.m. You can email them to vsccinfo@vscc.virginia.gov or mail them to:

1111 East Broad Street, Ste. B036
Richmond, VA 23219

Be sure to check out our decriminalization webpage for assistance crafting your comments. Here are some of the best key points to hit:

  • Punishing marijuana possession with a fine will save the state money, help eliminate enforcement disparities, and allow police to pursue actual violent criminals.
  • Marijuana is safer than alcohol, and marijuana consumers shouldn’t be criminalized for choosing a safer substance.
  • Nearly eight in 10 Virginians support replacing marijuana criminal convictions with a fine (decriminalization), and 62% favor ending marijuana prohibition altogether.

Please spread the word to other Virginians who support humane marijuana policies.

The post UPDATE: Virginia Marijuana Decriminalization Forum Rescheduled appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Hampshire Adds Chronic Pain to Qualifying Conditions

MPP Blog - Thu, 08/17/2017 - 10:18

New Hampshire’s therapeutic cannabis law is finally expanding to include patients who suffer from chronic pain. HB 157 went into effect on Tuesday, adding “moderate to severe chronic pain” as a qualifying condition. This new law will allow many more Granite Staters to use cannabis as an alternative to prescribed opioids — a critically important reform for a state that is struggling to turn the tide against opiate addiction.

Until this week, patients could only qualify with a pain diagnosis if their pain was deemed to be “severe” and related to one of the specific medical conditions provided for in the law. As a result, it was much easier for medical providers to prescribe opioids than to certify patients for therapeutic cannabis. Patients who would like to apply now that the law has changed can access the updated application forms here.

For those who are waiting for the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that is scheduled to take effect on August 27.

The post New Hampshire Adds Chronic Pain to Qualifying Conditions appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Court Case Highlights Need For Continued Federal Protections

NORML Blog - Thu, 08/17/2017 - 09:23

Last week, a US District Court blocked federal prosecutors from continuing a case against a medical marijuana cultivation company as a result of the current, albeit limited, congressional protections from the Department of Justice.

LA Weekly reported:

Humboldt County growers Anthony Pisarski and Sonny Moore had already pleaded guilty to federal allegations (conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute) but sought an evidentiary hearing based on legislation, first enacted in 2014, that prohibits the U.S. Department of Justice from cracking down on cannabis suspects who are otherwise following their state laws. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is a budget rider, co-authored by SoCal U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, that prevents enforcement and prosecution in medical marijuana states by stripping funding for such endeavors.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg on Tuesday stayed the prosecution, so the case is closed unless the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires and fails to be re-enacted and federal prosecutors want to resume their case. The defendants’ Beverly Hills attorney, Ronald Richards, says: “This is the first time in my 23-year career I’ve had a case stopped because of an appropriations rider.

“What the court did in this case may be used as a blueprint for other cases,” he says. “It opens the door for people not to get scared.”

In response to this verdict, California NORML Executive Director Dale Gieringer said, “It’s significant that a federal court ruled that people targeted by feds and in compliance with California’s medical marijuana laws ruled in the defendants’ favor.”

The Judge’s verdict was predicated on a previous ruling, United States v. McIntosh, a Ninth Circuit decision last year that upheld a medical marijuana defense for those facing federal prosecution in lawful medical states.

“This is the first case I’m aware of where McIntosh was cited and used to full effect,” continued Gieringer.

On July 27, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee to maintain this protection for lawful medical marijuana programs from the Department of Justice.

You can send a message to your Representative to support this language in the House by clicking HERE. 

 

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Utah Campaign Launches Signature Drive in Salt Lake City

MPP Blog - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 11:26

The Utah Patients Coalition held a news conference on Thursday to announce the official launch of signature gathering efforts to get a medical marijuana initiative on the Nov. 2018 ballot.  Volunteers began collecting signatures in downtown Salt Lake City immediately following the event.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act received approval from Lt. Governor Spencer Cox on August 10 to begin gathering signatures after supporters held 10 public hearings across the state and met with various state departments and stakeholders. More than 113,000 valid signatures are required to qualify for the ballot.

Good 4 Utah reports:

They are due April 15, 2018, but this group wants to get all the signatures turned in before the 2018 Legislative Session starts.

“The legislature has had an opportunity for the last three or four years to make substantive policy on this and has failed to do so, so now I think it’s time for the people to decide on this issue,” said DJ Schanz, Utah Patients Coalition Campaign Director.

The initiative would allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to legally and safely access medical cannabis with the recommendation of their doctor. It limits the number of dispensaries and cultivators, allows local zoning for medical cannabis facilities, prohibits using medical cannabis in public view, maintains the illegality of driving while intoxicated, and closely mirrors the legislation passed by the Utah Senate in 2016. Home cultivation and smoking medical cannabis would not be permitted.

The post Utah Campaign Launches Signature Drive in Salt Lake City appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017

NORML Blog - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 10:23

Representatives Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD-01), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) introduced H.R. 3391: The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017.

This Act amends the federal law to facilitate clinical investigations involving the use of cannabis and cannabis-derived products.

As you may know, there are many benefits to medical cannabis. Those suffering from PTSD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, and many other debilitating conditions have found relief because of medical marijuana.  

But, despite the fact that over 200 million Americans now have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, present regulations make clinical investigations involving cannabis needlessly onerous. Passage of this measure would expedite federal reviews of clinical protocols, provide greater access to scientists who wish to study the drug, and mandate an FDA review of the relevant science.

Please click HERE to contact your Representative and urge him/her to support this important measure.

 

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Washington State Responds To Attorney General Sessions’ Veiled Threats

NORML Blog - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 16:12

As first reported by Tom Angell of MassRoots.com, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson responded to a July 24 letter from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in which Sessions’ made multiple allegations all based on a single misleading 2016 report.

One would say, they didn’t pull any punches:

“Your letter, citing the March 2016 Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA) report on marijuana in Washington, makes a number of allegations that are outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information.”

 

Cutting right to the heart of the matter, i.e. facts, the Washington state leaders again articulated their desire to educate the (seemingly willing) ignorant Sessions.

“We have twice requested an in-person meeting with you because we believe it will lead to better understanding than exchanging letters. If we can engage in a more direct dialogue, we might avoid this sort of miscommunication and make progress on the issues that are important to both of us. We therefore reiterate our request to meet with you, followed by further appropriate meetings between state and DOJ officials.”

 

One of the most basic functions of government is to simply provide consistency and certainty in law enforcement. So after repeated efforts by the state’s leadership to receive clarification, basic facets of the Department of Justice’s approach are still unknown. In yet another attempt for guidance, the Governor and state Attorney General requested information on:

  • Whether DOJ intends to follow recommendations from its Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety—in particular, its reported recommendation to continue previous federal policy on state legalization of marijuana.
  • Whether President Trump’s previous statements of support for medical marijuana, and leaving recreational marijuana legalization to the states, represent the policy of the federal government.
  • Whether DOJ will support reasonable federal policies allowing financial institutions to provide service to licensed marijuana businesses, in order to avoid the public safety risks and transparency problems associated with all-cash businesses.
  • How state-regulated marijuana should be treated by the federal government following the President’s declaration that the opioid crisis constitutes a national emergency, and whether the federal government will support objective, independent research into the effects of marijuana law reform on opioid use and abuse.
  • Whether the federal government will help protect public health by supporting agricultural research on the safety of pesticides used in marijuana cultivation.
  • Whether the federal government will support research into expedited roadside DUI testing methods for law enforcement, as alternatives to blood draws.

 

How Attorney General Sessions will respond, only time will tell.

You can click HERE to send a message to your Representative to urge their support for The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, bipartisan legislation to prevent the Department of Justice from enforcing federal prohibition in states that have chosen to legalize medical or adult-use marijuana.

You can view the full letter from Governor Inslee and AG Ferguson below:

Washington Officials Respond to Sessions Marijuana Letter by tomangell on Scribd

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