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S.C.: Next Tuesday is Primary Election Day

MPP Blog - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 11:18

Review our South Carolina Voter Guide before casting your ballot.

South Carolina’s Primary Election Day is next Tuesday, June 12, and voters’ choices could have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in the state. Lawmakers will again consider legislation next year that would establish a compassionate medical cannabis program. South Carolinians should take a close look at whether candidates will stand up for patients.

We’ve done some of the work for you. We sent out a short questionnaire for candidates running for seats in the South Carolina House of Representatives and the governor’s office, and we’ve posted their responses here. Our voter guide also includes public comments from the gubernatorial candidates. For incumbent representatives, it also includes committee votes on medical cannabis (where applicable) and if they co-sponsored the bill.

The deadline to register to vote in the primary passed on May 13. For those who are registered, you can find more about Primary Day here, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open.

If you are a resident of South Carolina, please forward this message to your networks so your family and friends can also make informed decisions, and be sure to vote! Let’s spread the word that South Carolina can join the dozens of states that have already adopted sensible, comprehensive, and compassionate medical cannabis programs.

The post S.C.: Next Tuesday is Primary Election Day appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Want to know where Maryland candidates stand on cannabis legalization?

MPP Blog - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 09:58

While we are disappointed that the General Assembly did not allow Marylanders to vote on cannabis legalization this fall, Marylanders will be able to vote on them — all members of the legislature are up for election this year. We want to make sure that voters are informed about the candidates’ views on cannabis policy, so we published this voter guide.

If your candidate of choice hasn’t responded to our survey, please ask them to do so! Their contact information will be listed in the guide, and late responses will also be published. Remember, you can only vote in the primary of the party you belong to (you can check your registration here). If you are a Democrat, please check out the Marijuana Policy Project’s Voter Guide for the Gubernatorial Primary as well.

If you’re a Maryland resident, learn more about the candidates’ positions, and share this message with your friends and family in Maryland.

The post Want to know where Maryland candidates stand on cannabis legalization? appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Louisiana governor signs medical marijuana bills into law

MPP Blog - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 09:41

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed HB 579 and HB 627, which expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana! These two bills add a variety of new conditions including autism, PTSD, and intractable pain.

This is a great step towards Louisiana having a functional medical marijuana program. Next session, we are hopeful the legislature will allow the vaporization of medical marijuana so that patients can finally have real access to the medicine they need.

Congratulations to Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana and all the activists that showed up to the statehouse and contacted their lawmakers in support of these reforms!

The post Louisiana governor signs medical marijuana bills into law appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 6/1

NORML Blog - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 11:40

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

At the federal level, the U.S. House Rules Committee, and potentially the full House of Representatives, will consider four marijuana amendments next week, covering issues ranging from veterans’ access to medical cannabis to water rights for hemp growers.

This week, it was big victory for patients as a Florida Circuit Court judge ruled that a legislatively enacted ban on the smoking of medical cannabis in private by qualified patients is unconstitutional.

Additionally at the state level, state regulators in Utah certified a voter-initiated medical cannabis access measure for the 2018 ballot. Officials announced that proponents gathered nearly 154,000 validated initiative signatures from registered voters — far exceeding the total necessary to place the measure before a statewide vote.

California NORML teamed up with Americans For Safe Access to host a Citizens Lobby Day in Sacramento on June 4, and Gov. Chris Sununu (R) of New Hampshire signed a bill allowing additional medical cannabis dispensary locations.

At a more local level, Allentown, Pennsylvania’s mayor signed a marijuana decriminalization ordinance into law, but the police say they will continue enforcing state criminalization.

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

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Senate Bill 20-62 seeks to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis in the US territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

If passed, the bill would legalize the personal use and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for adults age 21 or older, and establish a licensing scheme for its commercial production and retail sale. The tax revenue would be used to fund the implementation of the program and other government services.

Update: SB 20-62 was approved unanimously by the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations (JGO). The next step will be a full House vote.

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

North Carolina

House Bill 994 would amend state law so that possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana carries no penalty, rather than a felony conviction. Under current state law, the possession of more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana is classified as a felony punishable by no more than 8 months in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Update: Senate companion bill SB 791 was introduced on 5/31 and awaits action in the Committee on Rules and Regulations.

NC resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization expansion

Illinois

Medical
SB 336 seeks to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

Update: SB 336 was approved by both houses on 5/31 and now awaits action from Governor Bruce Rauner.

IL resident? Click here to email Gov. Rauner in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

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

Update: The Senate concurred on 5/30 and SB 2298 now awaits action from Governor Bruce Rauner.

IL resident? Click here to email Gov. Rauner in support of industrial hemp

California

Expungement

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

Update: The Assembly Appropriations Committee amended AB 1793 and voted to pass it on 5/25. AB 1793 is expected to be heard by the full floor before the 6/1 deadline.

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

Employment Protections

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

Update: AB 2069 was held under submission in committee, effectively killing it for this year.

 

Additional Actions to Take

California

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

Update: SB 930 was amended and passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/25. The bill was then approved by the Senate by a 29-6 vote on 5/30.

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

Taxes
AB 3157, to temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial 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.

Update: AB 3157 was heard by the Assembly Appropriations committee on 5/25 and is now dead for this year after the committee decided to hold the bill under submission.

 

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

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Illinois lawmakers pass major improvement to medical cannabis program, now on to the governor

MPP Blog - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 08:55

The Illinois General Assembly passed the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program Act yesterday during a whirlwind last day of its regular legislative session. If signed into law, SB 336 would allow those who could be prescribed opioid drugs to qualify for the medical cannabis program. It also dramatically improves current law by streamlining wait times and removing fingerprint requirements for patients.

This bill would provide welcome relief to thousands who need a safer alternative to harmful opioid drugs. For a summary written by bill supporters — including key changes to background checks and shortened approval process — click here. The final bill draft language is here.

A huge shout-out goes to the medical cannabis community, the warriors who worked so hard to make it happen, and primary bill sponsors, Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and co-sponsors for their leadership and support. Thousands of lives could improve as a result.

But without the governor’s signature, it won’t become a reality. Gov. Rauner has 60 days from the day he receives it to sign or veto the measure, and he needs to hear from you. If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to voice your support for the measure with the governor’s office.

The post Illinois lawmakers pass major improvement to medical cannabis program, now on to the governor appeared first on MPP Blog.

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California: Key bill could automatically clear marijuana convictions

MPP Blog - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 13:23

In the coming days, lawmakers are expected to vote on providing relief for Californians saddled with harmful cannabis-related criminal histories. Under Assembly Bill 1793, any adult who was convicted of a marijuana offense that is no longer illegal would have their conviction erased automatically. This is a huge step forward to repairing decades of harmful policy.

Marijuana prohibition has harmed hundreds of thousands of individuals who now have cannabis convictions. This can limit career, educational, and housing opportunities. Since voters approved Prop. 64 in 2016, Californians have been able to petition to expunge (remove) these prior convictions, but the process can be costly and burdensome. And many don’t realize it’s an option.

AB 1793 would make the process automatic. It would direct the state Department of Justice to review the state’s criminal database and identify convictions that could be dismissed, downgraded, or simply expunged, and take the steps needed to make those changes.

If you are a California resident, contact your Assemblymember and voice your support for AB 1793.

To learn about the status of other cannabis reform bills in California, check out this East Bay Express article.

The post California: Key bill could automatically clear marijuana convictions appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition Releases General Assembly Voter Guide, Grades Candidates’ Marijuana Policy Positions Ahead of June Primary

MPP Blog - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 07:40

The Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition released a General Assembly voter guide that documents and grades candidates’ positions on cannabis policy. The release comes exactly two weeks before early voting begins in the 2018 primary election (June 14).

The web-based voter guide can be found at MarylandCannabisPolicy.org. In March, the Marijuana Policy Project released a separate guide to the Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates.

The General Assembly voter guide is based on a questionnaire that was sent to the 550 official House and Senate candidates contending in the June 26 primary. Candidates were asked for their positions on regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use and home cultivation, as well as for comments on the controversial implementation of the state’s medical cannabis program. The guide also notes whether candidates have previously co-sponsored bills to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults or refer the question to voters. Legislation that would have allowed voters to decide was debated in the General Assembly this year, but it did not receive a vote.

“Marylanders do not get to vote on legalization this year, but they do get to weigh in on the legislators who declined to put it on the ballot,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This is their chance to send a message to current and future lawmakers that legalizing, regulating, and taxing cannabis for adult use should be a priority for lawmakers next year. Most people recognize cannabis prohibition has been a costly failure and they want to know where their candidates stand.”

Sixty-four percent of likely Maryland voters support making cannabis legal for adults, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted in September 2016.

Advocates also expressed concern at the large number of candidates who have not responded to the questionnaire, which was sent out over a month ago. More than three out of four candidates have not responded yet, including more than 125 incumbents.

“Maryland’s cannabis policy affects everyone in the state, and it is receiving a significant amount of debate in the General Assembly,” Bell said. “Many voters care deeply about this issue, and they deserve to know where the candidates stand on it. It is disappointing to see so many candidates are still not on the record on cannabis policy, and we are encouraging voters in their districts to contact them directly to get them on the record.”

The post Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition Releases General Assembly Voter Guide, Grades Candidates’ Marijuana Policy Positions Ahead of June Primary appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Arkansas: Little Rock considers making marijuana possession a low priority

MPP Blog - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 07:19

A Little Rock city director has proposed formally making misdemeanor marijuana offenses a “low priority” for city law enforcement officials. As Ward 2 City Director Ken Richardson highlighted, simple misdemeanor marijuana offenses can haunt an individual for life, making it harder to secure employment and higher education.

If you live in Little Rock, please contact your directors and ask that they support this commonsense reform. If you are unsure of your ward’s city director, please go here to find out which ward you live in. In addition to your ward director, be sure to also email the three at-large directors that represent the entire city. This proposal is a great step in the right direction and will help shape policies at the state level in Arkansas.

Unfortunately, Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner had issues with the wording of the proposal and claimed the police department already views misdemeanor marijuana offenses as a low priority. If this is true, City Director Richardson explains there is no harm in simply putting this policy in writing.

If you’re a Little Rock resident, please take a few minutes to make sure the city directors know their constituents want Little Rock to make marijuana offenses a low enforcement priority. Then, please spread the word to others in Little Rock!

The post Arkansas: Little Rock considers making marijuana possession a low priority appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Utah’s medical cannabis initiative is officially on the ballot

MPP Blog - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 14:35

Great news! Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox officially announced yesterday afternoon that the medical cannabis ballot initiative has qualified for the November ballot. Legal medical cannabis just got one step closer to becoming a reality in Utah.

Our opponents’ attempts to stop our initiative from reaching the ballot have failed. Now the real campaign begins, and anti-cannabis crusaders are ramping up their efforts. Their strategy will be to buy TV ads and flood the airwaves with misinformation about the initiative.

The campaign needs your help to push back against the big donors who want to defeat this initiative. Please make a contribution to help fight back.

Walter J. Plumb III, owner of a pharmaceutical company, just dumped over $100,000 into our opponents’ account. Plumb has a long history of promoting falsehoods about cannabis in Utah, and that’s exactly what the opposition campaigns plan to do with his money.

This is a critical time, and we need all of our supporters to pitch in. The more the campaign can raise now, the less likely it is that our opponents will continue fighting, because they’ll realize they can’t win. Please consider making a donation to send a strong message that you won’t stand by while the opposition attempts to deprive Utah patients of legal and safe access to medical cannabis.

The post Utah’s medical cannabis initiative is officially on the ballot appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Utah: Medical Access Initiative Certified For 2018 Ballot

NORML Blog - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 16:07

State regulators today certified a voter-initiated medical cannabis access measure for the 2018 ballot. Officials announced that proponents gathered nearly 154,000 validated initiative signatures from registered voters — far exceeding the total necessary to place the measure before a statewide vote.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits qualified patients to obtain either herbal cannabis or cannabis-infused products from a limited number state-licensed dispensaries.

Both the Utah Medical Association and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have publicly opined against the measure. Nonetheless, public support in favor of the initiative remains strong, with 77 percent of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” endorsing the plan, according to a UtahPolicy.com poll.

Voters in Oklahoma will also decide on a medical access initiative in a special election on Tuesday, June 26. By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788, according to polling data reported last week.

Voters in two other states — Michigan and Missouri — are anticipated to decide on Election Day on statewide marijuana reform initiatives. Recent polling from those states finds majority public support for all three measures.

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Victory: Florida judge rules that ban on smokable marijuana is unconstitutional

MPP Blog - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 14:14

On May 25, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled that patients “have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for treatment of their debilitating medical conditions as recommended by their certified physicians.”

This is a big win for patient rights in Florida. After voters overwhelmingly approved the medical marijuana constitutional amendment in 2016, the Florida Legislature passed a law to prevent patients from using smokable marijuana. As you may know, for some patients, smoking marijuana is more effective than vaping or using edibles.

People United for Medical Marijuana and Florida for Care, joined by patients Cathy Jordan, who has ALS, and Diana Dodsen, who has AIDS, challenged the legislature’s attempt to restrict patients’ options. Judge Gievers ruled that patients have the right to use medical marijuana in private under the constitution.

Unfortunately, soon after Judge Gievers’ ruling, the Florida Department of Health appealed the decision, resulting in an automatic stay and preventing the decision from going into effect immediately. We are hopeful that the court decision will remain in effect and that patients will soon have the right to use medical marijuana in whatever way that works best for them.

The post Victory: Florida judge rules that ban on smokable marijuana is unconstitutional appeared first on MPP Blog.

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California NORML and Americans for Safe Access to Host Lobby Day

NORML Blog - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 13:27

California NORML is once again teaming up with Americans for Safe Access to co-sponsor a Citizens Lobby Day in Sacramento on June 4, 2018.

Lobby day begins with sign-in and a continental breakfast at 8:00 AM in the Metropolitan Terrace on the 7th Floor of the Citizen Hotel located at 926 J Street, Sacramento. If you have signed up in advance for lobby day, you will then receive your appointment times and locations for your representatives’ offices. If you haven’t signed up, you can visit a station where you can find out who your legislators are for drop-in appointments.

The morning program starts at 9:00 AM, where we will present an overview of the bills on which we’ll be lobbying, along with tips for effective lobbying. You will then be armed with fact sheets on all the bills for your afternoon meetings with lawmakers, along with forms to report on your meetings. Bring the forms with you to the evening VIP reception for lawmakers and attendees in the Scandal Lounge back at the Citizen Hotel starting at 5:30 PM.

Last year’s event was a success, with more than 200 patients, advocates, providers, industry workers, and others attending and lobbying their elected officials for marijuana reform bills. Lobby day efforts have resulted in a bill to protect employment rights for medical marijuana users, AB 2069, being introduced by Rep. Rob Bonta (Oakland).

Other bills currently on the legislative agenda include:

• SB 1302 (Lara) to end local delivery bans.

• AB 1793 (Bonta), to to create a simpler and expedited pathway for Californians to have certain criminal convictions for cannabis-related offenses removed or reduced from their records.

• SB 1127 (Hill) to allow for a parent or guardian to administer medicinal cannabis to a pupil at a schoolsite.

• AB 2215 (Kalra) to require the Veterinary Medical Board to establish guidelines for licensed veterinarians to discuss the use of cannabis for animals

• AB 3157 (Lackey/Bonta) to temporarily reduce taxes on cannabis sales

• Two bills which would expand on the available venues for the sale and consumption of cannabis at temporary special events: AB 2020 by Asm. Bill Quirk (Hayward) and AB 2641 by Asm. Jim Wood (North Coast).

Business bills that have been introduced or re-introduced this year include: AB1741 (Bonta), to allow for electronic tax payments for cannabis businesses; AB 1863 (Jones-Sawyer), to allow the deduction of business expenses for a licensed cannabis business under the state Personal Income Tax Law; AB 924 (Bonta) to direct the state to enter into agreements authorizing tribal cannabis activities; and SB 930 (Hertzberg), to establish a state-chartered bank that would allow for commercial cannabis activity in California.

Supporters are urged to sign up in advance for lobby day so that organizers can make appointments with their representatives in the State Assembly and Senate. The cost for the day is $25, with no one turned away for lack of funds.

Lobby day begins with a continental breakfast at 8:00 AM in the Metropolitan Terrace on the 7th Floor of the Citizen Hotel located at 926 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. The program starts at 9:00 AM. Meetings with lawmakers will take place in the afternoon, with an evening VIP reception for lawmakers and attendees in the Scandal Lounge at the Citizen Hotel starting at 5:30 PM.

For more information about marijuana law reform efforts in California, you can also follow California NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

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Florida: Court Strikes Down Legislative Ban On Medical Cannabis Smoking

NORML Blog - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 16:03

A Florida Circuit Court judge ruled today that a legislatively enacted ban on the smoking of medical cannabis in private by qualified patients is unconstitutional.

Lawmakers in 2017 passed Senate Bill 8A — which sought to amend provisions in Amendment 2, a voter initiated constitutional amendment permitting the use and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Specifically, SB 8A prohibited the possession of marijuana “in a form for smoking” and barred the use of herbal cannabis except in instances where it is contained “in a sealed tamper-proof receptacle for vaping.” Seventy-one percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 in November 2016.

Backers of Amendment 2, including the group Florida for Care and longtime medical activist Cathy Jordan, challenged the ‘no smoking’ ban — arguing that lawmakers improperly sought to overrule the will of the electorate. Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers today ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

“Section 381.986, Florida Statutes (2017) unconstitutionally restricts rights that are protected in the Constitution, and so the statutory prohibition against the use of smokeable marijuana permitted by [a] qualifying patient is declared invalid and unenforceable,” the judge ruled. “Qualifying patients have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for [the] treatment of their debilitating medical condition as recommended by their certified physicians, including the use of smokable marijuana in private places.”

NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or restrict patients’ access to whole plant herbal cannabis. Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms do not benefit from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects.

“This ruling is a victory for Florida voters and, in particular, Florida’s patient community,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “These legislatively enacted restrictions arbitrarily sought to limit patients’ choices in a manner that violated the spirit of the law, and cynically sought to deny patients the ability to obtain rapid relief from whole-plant cannabis in a manner that has long proven to be relatively safe and effective.”

The Court’s opinion in the case: People United for Medical Marijuana et al v. Florida department of Health et al., appears online here.

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Georgia Legislators Out Of Touch With Constituency

NORML Blog - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 15:27
What’s A Straw Poll?

For those that don’t know, a straw poll is an unofficial ballot conducted as a test of opinion.  On 5/22/2018 the question above appeared as the first local question on the Democratic ballot for Forsyth County, Georgia.  “Should Georgia amend the state Constitution to legalize the use of cannabis/marijuana for those 21 years old and older, allow a retail dispensary base, tax said products, and allocate revenue received equally to state education and transportation infrastructure?”

The results are non-binding.  It was just a question to “test the opinion” of the voters.  Well, the voters spoke, and the results are pretty amazing, though not all that surprising.

4996 (a whopping 77%) answered YES
Only 1471 answered NO

Did I mention that a whopping 77% answered YES?

Marijuana On An Official Ballot in Georgia?

How’d that happen?  I reached out to Melissa Clink, who currently chairs the Forsyth Democratic Party and asked that question.  She told me, “Our election board officials asked about a month ahead of elections if we wanted questions on our ballot. These questions take the temperature of voters and in my opinion alert elected officials how their constituents want them to vote on such matters.  I believed marijuana legalization was a high priority question in Georgia”.

Clink said that there was some initial resistance from within the party, although support for medical usage was unequivocal.  As is the case with many citizens in Georgia, some believed Georgia had a viable medical marijuana program and were unaware of some of the hypocrisy in that program.  Clink explained that Georgia has a non-functioning medical use law that does not include in-state growth or access to medicine and that “we need to know how voters feel about outright legalization so that our elected officials can legislate according to the will of the people”.  The question was added to the ballot.

Did I Mention That A Whopping 77% Answered YES?

I bring that up because according to the latest Quinnipiac poll 63% of the Nation favors legalization.  The folks in Forsyth County, Georgia obviously favor it more than that.  Even the Republican Party there is saying they wish they’d asked that, and other, questions.

Catherine Bernard, a liberty-loving criminal defense attorney said: “[this] matches up with my jury selection experience in Forsyth where almost everyone raised their hand when the prosecutor asked who thought it shouldn’t be against the law to have MJ!”

The Heroin Triangle and Education

Forsyth County is in Georgia’s “Heroin Triangle”, and this may have some bearing on why this county ranges 14% higher than the national percentage.  I’m sure they’ve been paying close attention to the growing evidence that marijuana is an exit from opiates, not the gateway.

While the percentage of folks that want marijuana legalized in other Georgia counties may not be quite as high, we know that the majority of citizens want this.  We knew it in 2014 when we had a telephone poll done and over 50% of those polled were for full legalization.  That percentage has grown immensely over the past 4 years.

Why Georgia, Why?

So the questions become, “Why aren’t Georgia Legislators listening? Why aren’t more of them vocally supporting in-State cultivation for medical purposes?  Why aren’t they getting on board with decriminalizing possession of one ounce or less?  Why is it necessary to arrest more than 24,000 people a year for possession?”

Take Action!!

Contact your legislators during this recess.  Reach out to them on their home turf.  Call, write, email.  Express your support for more rational marijuana laws.

Contact your Republican and Democratic Party Chairs.  Discuss a straw poll with them.

“When we are talking, we are winning”.  Sooner now, than later, they will have to listen to us.  The tide is turning in Georgia.

Tom McCain is the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, fighting for the rights of Georgian cannabis consumers. You can visit their website at www.peachtreenorml.org, follow their work on Facebook and Twitter, and please make a contribution to support their work by clicking here. 

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Oklahoma: Polling Shows Strong Voter Support For Upcoming Medical Marijuana Vote

NORML Blog - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 14:02

By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788 — a voter-initiated measure to permit patients access to marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Oklahomans will decide on the measure in a special election on Tuesday, June 26.

According to polling data compiled by SoonerPoll.com and released today, 58 percent of likely voters endorse the measure, while 30 percent oppose it. Public support for the patient-centric initiative — which empowers physicians to use their discretion when determining cannabis therapy — has largely held steady, even in the face of growing, organized opposition from members of law enforcement and certain business leaders.

Under the plan, licensed medical marijuana patients may cultivate up to six mature plants, and obtain personal use quantities of marijuana flower, edibles, or infused concentrates from regulated dispensaries. NORML formally endorsed the measure in January.

Initiative proponents gathered sufficient signatures to place the issue before voters in 2016. However, the vote was postponed because when the state attorney general attempted to reword the initiative’s ballot title in a misleading manner. Initiative proponents sued to restore the title’s original wording. This year, proponents fought back legislation which sought to preemptively amend the initiative in a manner that would have curtailed the rights of both patients and their physicians.

Voters in three other states — Michigan, Missouri, and Utah — are anticipated to decide on Election Day on statewide marijuana reform initiatives. Recent polling from those states finds majority public support for all three measures.

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Illinois: Two medical marijuana improvement bills are on the move

MPP Blog - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 13:51

The Illinois House of Representatives may soon vote on SB 336, which would allow those who could be prescribed opioid drugs to qualify for the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. Last month, the Senate passed the measure by a wide margin, but its future in the House is less certain.

If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to voice your support with your lawmaker today.

While opioids can be highly addictive and dangerous, many seriously ill patients across the country are opting for a safer alternative. Medical cannabis has emerged as an effective option for hundreds of thousands of patients around the U.S. Yet, Illinois’ medical cannabis law does not include pain as a qualifying condition. It’s past time to allow patients to use cannabis instead of opiate-based medications.

Another bill which would also provide patients welcome relief passed both chambers and is now on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. If signed, HB 4870 would allow students who are registered patients to access medical cannabis at school under certain circumstances. While limited, it is an important improvement to ensure patients do not have to choose between their health and their education. If you are an Illinois resident, call Gov. Rauner at (217) 782-0244 and ask him to sign this important bill into law.

 

The post Illinois: Two medical marijuana improvement bills are on the move appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 5/25

NORML Blog - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 07:30

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

Federally, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today became the fourth Senator to cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act, joining the bill’s author, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and cosponsors Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

At the state level, NORML PAC announced the endorsement of Jared Polis for Governor of Colorado. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a state law banning medical cannabis on college campuses violates the state Constitution. And Nevada retailers sold more than $41 million worth of recreational marijuana in March, a new monthly record.

At a more local level, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is directing the NYPD to stop arresting people smoking marijuana in public, and is moving to draft a plan to prepare the city for eventual legalization. The Los Angeles County, California Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution supporting state legislation to expunge marijuana convictions, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania City Council’s Public Safety Committee gave unanimous initial approval to a proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance, and The Milwaukee County, Wisconsin County Board voted to place an advisory marijuana legalization question on the November ballot.

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

Minnesota

HF 927 and SF 1320 are pending to regulate adult use marijuana possession and provide for retail sales. HF 927 has been awaiting action from the House Health and Human Services Committee since February and so has SF 1320 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Update: A third measure, HF 4541, was introduced on 5/20 to also regulate adult use marijuana possession and provide for retail sales.

MN resident? Click here to email you elected officials in support of regulating adult use marijuana sales

Commonwealth of the Nothern Mariana Islands

SB 20-62 seeks to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis in the US territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The bill already passed the full Senate earlier this month.

Update: The House Committee on Judiciary & Government Operations will hold a hearing on marijuana legalization on 5/29.

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

Pennsylvania

House Bill 928, which was carried over from last year, seeks to reduce minor marijuana possession penalties. The bill amends state law so that first and second marijuana possession offenses (up to 30 grams) are reduced from misdemeanor offenses to a summary offense, punishable by a fine only.

Update: Representative Ron Marsico has offered a June vote before the House Judiciary Committee, with hopes of a full House, and then Senate vote by the end of the summer.

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

California

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

Update: The Assembly’s Appropriations Committee is holding a hearing on AB 1793 on 5/25 at 9am.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past records

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

Update: AB 2069 is scheduled for a vote in Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday, May 25. The bill must pass the full Assembly floor by June 1.

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

New York

Record Sealing
A. 2142 and S. 3809 would seal the records of those who have previously been convicted of certain marijuana misdemeanors.

New York has historically had one of the highest marijuana arrest rates in the nation largely because of arrests made under the public view and public smoking exceptions to New York’s decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana.

NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of sealing past records

Medical
S 8191 has been introduced in the State Senate to explicitly permit children and developmentally disabled individuals with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered at schools and other facilities, and require school districts and facilities to create policies for medical marijuana administration.

NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of allowing medical marijuana in schools

Opioids
A. 9016 and S. 7564 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence. Both bills have been stagnant in their respective chambers since January.

Update: A third measure, S. 8820, was introduced on 5/22, to include opioid use as a condition that permits the use of medical cannabis.

NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of adding opioid use to the qualifying conditions list

Illinois

SB 336 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment. It was already approved by the Senate last month.

Update: The House Executive committee voted 8-3 to approve SB 336 on 5/24.

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

New Jersey

A3971 was recently introduced and would establish reciprocity with other states’ medical marijuana program.The measure would allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting New Jersey, in accordance with state law.

NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity

 

Additional Actions to Take

Illinois

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

Update: SB 2298 was approved by the House on 5/23. It will now go back to the Senate for concurrence.

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

New York

Legislation to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana for dogs, cats and other pets in New York State is pending in the Senate (S. 8772) and Assembly (A. 10104) Health Committees. The bill would allow veterinarians to recommend medical marijuana for our pets. Most non-human animals have an endocannabinoid system like we do, which means they can also benefit from the therapeutic effects of marijuana.

NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana for our furry friends

California

AB 3157 would temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis.

Update: AB 3157 was supposed to be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 5/16, but the hearing was postponed until 5/25 at 9am.

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

That’s all for this week, folks!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Louisiana Legislature passes medical marijuana reform this session

MPP Blog - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 12:37

This session, the Louisiana Legislature passed two bills to expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. HB 579 and HB 627 add a variety of new conditions including autism, PTSD, and intractable pain. These bills are now on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. If you have a second, call the governor and politely ask him to sign HB 579 and HB 627. His constituent services number is (225) 342-0991.

This is a great step towards Louisiana having a functional medical marijuana program. Next session, we are hopeful the legislature will allow the vaporization of medical marijuana so that patients can finally have real access to the medicine they need.

Many thanks go out to the activists that showed up to the statehouse and contacted their lawmakers in support of these reforms!

The post Louisiana Legislature passes medical marijuana reform this session appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Arizona: Supreme Court Affirms That Lawmakers Cannot Ban Medical Cannabis Access on College Campuses

NORML Blog - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 14:54

In a ruling issued today by the Arizona Supreme Court, justices upheld an appellate court decision striking down a 2012 law that sought to forbid medical cannabis access on college campuses.

Lifetime NORML Legal Committee member Tom Dean represented the patient-defendant in the case pro bono, and called the decision a “victory for democracy.”

Justices opined that the 2012 law was unconstitutional because it impermissibly sought to amend the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which voters passed in 2010. State law limits the legislature’s ability to amend, repeal, or supersede voter-initiated laws.

“Because the AMMA sets forth a list of locations where the legislature may impose ‘civil, criminal or other penalties’ when a person possesses or uses marijuana, § 36-2802, and because that list does not include college and university campuses (unlike pre-, primary-, and secondary-school grounds), we assume that the voters did not intend to criminalize AMMA-compliant possession or use of marijuana on public college and university campuses,” the court ruled. It further rejected the state’s claim that a campus-wide ban was necessary in order to preserve universities’ federal funding.

“If the State had prevailed, they could then have tampered with any and all ballot initiatives, past, present, and future,” said Dean. “This is a victory for all Arizona voters and especially for medical marijuana patients.”

The ruling sets aside the felony conviction of defendant Andrew Lee Maestas, who was initially charged and found guilty of the possession of 0.4 grams of marijuana despite his status as a state-registered medical cannabis patient.

The case is Arizona v Maestas, No. CR-17-0193-PR.

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DEA Report: Marijuana Seizures Fell Nearly 40 Percent in 2017

NORML Blog - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 11:57

Seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops in the United States fell nearly 40 percent between the years 2016 and 2017, according to annual data compiled by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to figures published in the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, the agency and its law enforcement partners confiscated an estimated 3.38 million marijuana plants nationwide in 2017. This total represents a 37 percent decrease from the agency’s 2016 totals, when it eradicated some 5.34 million plants.

As in past years, the majority of seizures nationwide (72 percent) took place in California, where law enforcement seized and estimated 2.45 million plants. That total was 35 percent lower than in 2016, when law enforcement confiscated an estimated 3.78 million plants. California voters in November 2016 legalized adult use marijuana possession, cultivation, and sales.

Law enforcement seized 472,927 plants in Kentucky (down 15 percent from 2016), 74,599 plants in West Virginia (down 40 percent), 62,323 plants in Arkansas (up 93 percent), 60,658 plants in Indiana (up five percent), and 34,646 plants in Tennessee (down 73 percent).

The agency and its partners reported making 4,502 arrests in conjunction with their cannabis eradication efforts – a 20 percent decline from 2016.

The DEA also reported seizing some $20.5 million in assets during their confiscation efforts – a 60 percent reduction from the previous year.

You can click here to send a message to your member of Congress to support pending legislation known as the Stop Civil Asset Forfeiture Funding for Marijuana Suppression Act to reduce the DEA’s enforcement policies even faster. 

Full data from the DEA’s 2017 report, as well as past years’ reports, are available online here.

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