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Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Marijuana’s Schedule I Prohibited Status

NORML Blog - Mon, 02/26/2018 - 16:51

A federal district court judge in Manhattan today granted the government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit that sought to challenge the constitutionality of cannabis’ prohibited status under federal law.

[2/27/18 update: Plaintiffs have stated their intent to appeal the court’s ruling.]

The 98-page complaint, filed in July 2017 by a legal team that includes New York attorney Michael Hiller, NORML Legal Committee member Joseph Bondy and Empire State NORML Director David Holland, contended that the federal government “does not believe, and upon information and belief never has believed” that cannabis meets the requirements for a Schedule I designation under the Controlled Substances Act. It further argued that current administrative mechanisms in place to allow for the reconsideration of cannabis Schedule I classification are “illusory.” Lawyers for the Justice Department argued for a dismissal of the suit, arguing: “There is no fundamental right to use marijuana, for medical purposes or otherwise.”

Presiding Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein sided with the federal government, opining in a 20-page ruling: “No such fundamental right (to possess or use cannabis) exists. Every court to consider the specific, carefully framed right at issue here has held that there is no substantive due process right to use medical marijuana.” The judge further ruled that plaintiffs had not yet exhausted all of the potential administrative remedies available to them — such as filing an administrative petition to reschedule cannabis with the US Drug Enforcement Administration — and therefore, it was inappropriate for the court to intervene. “There can be no complaint of constitutional error when such a process is designed to provide a safety valve of this kind,” he opined. “Judicial economy is not served through a collateral proceeding of this kind that seeks to undercut the regulatory machinery on the Executive Branch and the process of judicial review in the Court of Appeals.”

Judge Hellerstein also rejected plaintiffs’ claim that the federal law is unconstitutional because “it was passed with racial animus.” He held that plaintiffs lacked the standing to argue such a claim because they “have failed to demonstrate that a favorable decision is likely to redress plaintiffs’ alleged injuries,” such as a dismissal of their past criminal convictions.

With regard to the question of whether the plaintiffs legitimately benefited from cannabis as a medicinal agent, the judge argued that the merits of this claim was beyond the scope of the court. “Plaintiffs’ amended complaint, which I must accept as true for the purpose of this motion, claims that the use of medical marijuana has, quite literally, saved their lives,” he wrote. “I highlight plaintiffs’ experience to emphasize that this decision should not be understood as a factual finding that marijuana lacks any medical use in the United States, for the authority to make that determination is vested in the administrative process.” He added, “Even if marijuana has current medical uses, I cannot say that Congress acted irrationally in placing marijuana in Schedule I.”

Legal counsel for the plaintiffs have yet to publicly announce whether or not they intend to appeal Judge Hellerstein’s ruling.

A judge for the Federal District Court in Sacramento considered similar arguments in a 2014 legal challenge, also spearheaded by members of the NORML Legal Committee, but ultimately rejected them — ruling that plaintiffs failed to show that Congress acted irrationally when classifying cannabis as a schedule I controlled substance. “At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional,” the judge determined. “But this is not the court and not the time.”

Text of Judge Hellerstein’s decision in Washington et al. v. Sessions et al is online here.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Speech Prep

DrugWarRant - Mon, 02/26/2018 - 14:08

Couch friends: As I’ve mentioned before, I will be the luncheon speaker at the 2018 Libertarian Party of Illinois Convention this Saturday.

I’ve got a number of points I’m looking to cover, based on past presentations I’ve given, but I’m always looking for ways to punch it up.

What’ve you got? In particular, what’s the best data out there that would be of interest to those advocating political positions in Illinois right now, either regarding public perception/priorities or the state’s pressing issues, where drug policy reform could be a winner? (Or national interests that would affect Illinois.)

What would you want to hear me talk about?

Thanks!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/23/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 12:13

Welcome to this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

First, I want to bring your attention to some of the state level lobbying efforts progressing around the country.

Activists gathered in Denver, CO on Wednesday to try and change the conversation on employee drug testing and partner with local business. Several Denver board members and activists attended, building relationships and trust with legislators and other interest groups and lobbyists. Additionally, NORML of Florida chapters, along with Sensible Florida, Inc (the organization behind the constitutional initiative “To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol”) supporters met in Tallahassee on Tuesday to host press conferences and lobby state lawmakers in support of marijuana law reforms.

Also at the state level, New Mexico’s state legislature has adjourned for this year, effectively killing a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana, a decriminalization bill, and one to allow doctors to recommend cannabis in place of opioids. Three Arizona bills are also dead for this year after failing to be voted on before last Friday’s crossover deadline, including one that would have put legalization on the ballot, a decriminalization bill, and one to obtain sanctuary state status for marijuana operators.

At a more local level, officials in various parts of the country are speaking out against the Trump administration’s crackdown on marijuana. The District Attorney for Alameda County in California has announced her intent to automatically vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions. And newly elected Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner also announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offense violations. City officials in San Francisco recently announced plans to automatically expunge thousands of past marijuana possession convictions and Seattle officials have also announced a similar plan to dismiss past convictions.

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

Maryland

Introduced by state Senator Will Smith, SB 1039 would put an amendment to the Maryland Constitution on the ballot to be decided by voters to ensure that citizens have the right to possess, smoke, and cultivate marijuana. Delegate David Moon is sponsoring the House companion, HB 1264.

Update: SB 1039 was debated on the Senate floor on Tuesday, and HB 1264 is scheduled to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on 3/13 at 1pm.

MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of leaving it up to the voters

Alabama

Senate Bill 251 and House Bill 272 reduce penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,000 fine, to a non-criminal violation, punishable by a fine of no more than $250 — no arrest and no criminal record. However, provisions in the bills also reclassify offenses involving quantities of marijuana above one ounce as felonies.

Update: Both bills were heard by the Judiciary Committees in their respective chambers on 2/21. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved SB 251 by a 6 to 4 vote, however, the House committee rejected HB 272 by a 7 to 5 vote. HB 272 is now dead for this session.

AL resident? Click here to email your elected officials and urge them to amend SB 251 in a manner that benefits all marijuana possession offenders

West Virginia

Legislation is pending, House Bill 3035, to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana. Senate Bill 593 is also pending and would allow adults over 21 years of age to possess up to four ounces of marijuana at home and two ounces in public. They could also grow four mature cannabis plants and four seedlings.

Update: New, similar legislation was introduced, HB 4491 to also regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana.

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

Tennessee

Earlier this year, Senator Sara Kyle (D) and Representative Larry Miller introduced legislation SB 2320 and HB 2391, seeking to place a ballot initiative before voters to let them decide on the legalization of medical marijuana.

Update: SB 2320 was put on the final calendar for The Senate State & Local Government Committee, the date is TBD. HB 2391 was placed on the House Local Government subcommittee calendar for 2/21, but then deferred to a later date, TBD.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of a medical marijuana ballot initiative

Missouri

New legislation is pending, HJR 86, to put the issue of depenalizing the adult use of marijuana before voters this November.

If enacted by lawmakers, voters would decide upon the following question: “That the possession or consumption of marijuana by a person twenty-one years of age or older shall not be a criminal offense in this state.”

MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of a depenalization ballot question

Virginia

SB 726 and HB 1251 are pending, seeking to expand the state’s limited medical CBD law. They both crossed over to the other chamber earlier this month.

Update: HB 1251 was approved by the Senate 40 to zero on 2/19 and is now being transmitted to Governor Northam, who has indicated that he plans on signing the bill. Also, HB 1251 succeeded unanimously in an Adoption Emergency Vote, meaning it will go into effect immediately upon Gov. Northam’s signature.

VA resident? Click here to email your Governor and tell him to sign HB 1251 into law

New York

A.8904 is pending, to permit practitioners’ discretion to recommend medical marijuana, without being limited by the existing list of qualifying conditions.

Update: A Senate companion bill was introduced late last week, S.7755.

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

Alaska

Legislation is pending, SB 6, to establish an agricultural pilot program to permit the cultivation, production, and sale of industrial hemp by registered providers.

Update: SB 6 was approved by both the House and Senate and now awaits action from Governor Walker.

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

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program.

Update: SB 263 was approved by the Senate by a 36-3 vote on 2/22, and it now awaits action from the House.

KS resident? Click here to email your representatives in support of hemp research

 

Additional Actions to Take

Arizona

Senate Bill 1420 seeks to enhance quality testing practices for medical marijuana products.

If passed, the bill would improve product testing procedures and requirements. It would also lower the costs of medical marijuana registration cards from $150 to $50 for an initial application, and to $25 for subsequent annual renewals.

Update: SB 1420 was approved by the Senate by a 27-3 vote on 2/22, and is now being transmitted to the House, where a vote is expected in the upcoming weeks.

AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of better testing practices

Indiana

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

The law defines products containing CBD and no more than 0.3 percent THC as legal to possess and sell. Indiana citizens would no longer need to be a part of a patient registry or to be diagnosed with a qualifying condition in order to legally possess or purchase CBD products. It also provides protections so that employers may not discriminate against anyone using CBD in compliance with the law.

Separate legislation further clarifying the legal status of CBD products in the state of Indiana for specific patients, House Bill 1214, is also pending. Both bills have already crossed over to the other chamber.

Update: SB 52 was heard by the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee on 2/21 and was then approved by a vote of 9 to zero. HB 1214 will be heard by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee at 11am on 2/27 in Room 130.

Hemp
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1137 to authorize the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to establish an agricultural pilot program to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp and industrial hemp products. It was already approved by the House unanimously last month.

Update: HB 1137 was approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce on 2/19.

IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of greater CBD access, and click here to email them in support of hemp research.

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, HB 1477, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement.

If passed, HB 1477 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana.

Update: HB 1477 was considered on the House floor on 2/22, and was then approved by the House by a 314-24 vote, and will now be transmitted to the Senate.

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

Illinois

Legislation is pending, SB 336, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

Update: SB 336 is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate on 2/27.

IL resident? Click here to email your senators in support of this effort

Missouri

Legislation is pending, SB 547 and HB 2034, seeking to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp. SB 547 was approved by the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee last month.

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

Update: HB 2034 was initially approved by the House on 2/20.

MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of modifying industrial hemp provisions

Tennessee

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

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

Update: Both SB 1710 and HB 1749 were placed on the Criminal Justice Subcommittee calendar in their respective chambers for 2/27.

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

Michigan

Republican State Representative Peter Lucido introduced House Bill 4606, seeking to amend the Michigan Penal Code by removing the crime of registered medical patients traveling with marijuana. HB 4606 was already approved by the House last year.

If passed, the bill would repeal a 2012 law that makes it illegal to transport or possess marijuana unless it’s in a container secured in the trunk of a vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a trunk, the marijuana has to be in a case that is not readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle. Violators face up to 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Update: HB 4606 was approved by a Senate committee on 2/22.

MI resident? Click here to email your senators in support of removing travel restrictions for patients

Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Meta-Analysis: Studies Refute Claims That Medical Cannabis Access Encourages Teen Use

NORML Blog - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 13:07

The enactment of statewide laws regulating the use and distribution of cannabis for medical purposes is not associated with increased marijuana use among young people, according to a review of relevant studies published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.

Investigators from Columbia University, the RAND Corporation, the University of California at Davis, and the Boston School of Public Health reviewed 11 studies developed from four ongoing national surveys. The studies were published between the years 1991 and 2014. None of the studies identified any significant changes in youth use patterns that could be attributable to changes in marijuana’s legal status.

Authors concluded: “[A]ll estimates of pre–post changes in past-month marijuana use within MML (medical marijuana law) states from these studies were non-significant. … In summary, current evidence does not support the hypothesis that MML passage is associated with increased marijuana use prevalence among adolescents in states that have passed such laws.”

One of the study’s senior authors, Dr. Deborah Hasin, further stated in an accompanying press release, “For now, there appears to be no basis for the argument that legalizing medical marijuana has increased teens’ use of the drug.”

The findings are consistent with those of numerous prior studies, including a federally funded 2015 study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry that assessed marijuana use patterns of over one-million adolescents in 48 states. That paper concluded, [C]oncerns that increased marijuana use is an unintended effect of state marijuana laws seem unfounded.”

Separate studies report that teens’ use of marijuana and access to cannabis have declined significantly over the better part of the past two decades – during the same time that the majority of states enacted medical marijuana access programs. Data from states that regulate the adult use and sale of cannabis similarly fail to report any associated uptick in either youth use or marijuana access.

Text of the study, “Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the United States: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” is not yet available online.

Categories: Blog Feeds

California: Alameda County District Attorney To Vacate Thousands Of Past Marijuana Convictions

NORML Blog - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 17:10

The District Attorney for Alameda County has announced her intent to automatically vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions. Alameda County, which includes Oakland, is the 7th-most populous county in California.

According to the DA’s office, there are an estimated 6,000 marijuana convictions eligible for either a sentence reduction or a dismissal.

“California is offering a second chance to people convicted of cannabis crimes, from felonies to small infractions, with the opportunity to have their criminal records cleared,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Mally said in a press statement. “We … intend to reverse decades of cannabis convictions that can be a barrier for people to gain meaningful employment.”

The policy change comes weeks after the San Francisco District Attorney’s office announced that it will review, dismiss, and seal an estimated 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions dating back to 1975.

Seattle officials have also announced a similar plan to dismiss past convictions, opining, “[T]his action is a necessary first step in righting the wrongs of the past and putting our progressive values into action.” Last week, newly elected Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner also announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offense violations.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Alabama to Consider Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

MPP Blog - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 11:34

The Alabama House Judiciary Committee will be considering a bill that would decriminalize less than one ounce of marijuana.

Currently, Alabamans caught with small amounts of marijuana can be sent to jail for up to one year. These bills, HB 272 and SB 251, would change the penalty for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana to a violation instead of a misdemeanor. That means the penalty would be paying a fine of up to $250 instead of facing jail time.

There is real momentum to pass this bipartisan bill this year. One of the sponsors, Rep. Patricia Todd, said, “I haven’t talked to one person who is against.”

If you are an Alabama resident, please ask your representatives and senators to support HB 272 and SB 251.

 

The post Alabama to Consider Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession appeared first on MPP Blog.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Maryland to Hold Hearings on Legalization Ballot Bill

MPP Blog - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 15:46

The bills to let the people of Maryland decide whether the state should tax and regulate cannabis for adults, SB 1039 and HB 1264, will have hearings beginning tomorrow and on March 13.

 

In order for the people to vote on whether to end marijuana prohibition, lawmakers must pass SB 1039 or HB 1264 to put the issue on the November 2018 ballot. If you are a Maryland resident, please ask your lawmakers to allow voters to put an end to the failed and biased policy of cannabis prohibition and replace it with a system that allows adults to lawfully consume a substance that is safer than alcohol. You can also click here for more information on these bills.

If you are interested in sharing your personal story with lawmakers, please contact us!

The post Maryland to Hold Hearings on Legalization Ballot Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

Categories: Blog Feeds

It Was A Big Week For Marijuana In America

NORML Blog - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 15:41

Valentines Day week 2018 saw a tremendous amount of activity when it came to addressing our nations failed policy of marijuana prohibition. From new federal legislation being introduced to two federal lawsuits having hearings, plus a number of members of Congress, old allies and new stepping up to demand the Trump Administration continue to allow the states that have reformed their laws be respected by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Rick “Not Pro-Pot But Pro-Civil Liberties” Steves Went To Washington: Bestselling guidebook author and travel host Rick Steves held two briefings to address marijuana prohibition to a gathering of members of Congress and their staff. Inspired by Europe’s pragmatic approach to drug policy, with success measured by harm reduction rather than incarceration, Steves said that he is motivated to speak in favor of legalization because of its impact on civil liberties.

“ There are so many reasons to end the prohibition on marijuana. Whether you’re concerned about the well-being of children, fairness for minority communities, redirecting money away from criminals and into state’s coffers, stemming the horrific bloodshed in Mexico, or civil liberties; it is clearly time for a new approach,” said Rick Steves. You can read more about his day at Capitol Hill here.

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

Upon the introduction, Rep. Correa said, “To date, eight states have legalized recreational cannabis, and twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, representing more than half of the American population, have enacted legislation to permit the use of cannabis. Attorney General Sessions’ decision to rescind the “Cole Memo” created great uncertainty for these states and legal cannabis businesses, and put citizens in jeopardy for following their state laws.

In my state of California, voters want legal cannabis. It boosts our economy and is a strong medical tool. By 2020, revenues from cannabis sales taxes could reach $1 billion annually for California. This bill will protect California and other states from federal overreach and ensure the will of the American voter is respected.”

Essentially, the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act would give peace of mind to lawmakers, regulators, 149,000 workers, and the millions of patients and consumers who are dependent on the normalization of lawful marijuana markets. The most essential component in creating a stable business environment to meet consumer demand is certainty and that is what states would have with Reps. Correa’s legislation to protect state-lawful programs from militant marijuana prohibitionist Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Click here to send a message to your Representative to urge them to co-sponsor the Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act. 

Lawsuit Against Attorney General Jeff Sessions: On February 14th, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York heard oral arguments on the motion to dismiss Washington, et.al v. Sessions, et.al, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Schedule I classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. The federal government argued to have the case dismissed. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York reserved the decision.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case are Michael Hiller and Lauren Rudick of Hiller, PC, and include NORML Legal Committee member Joseph Bondy and Empire State NORML Director David Holland.

Click here to read more.

HIA Against The DEA: A case brought forward by the Hemp Industries Association against the DEA regarding the classification of CBD had a hearing on Thursday. You can read more about that effort here.

Banking On Mnuchin: Congressman and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus Earl Blumenauer pressed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the need for certainty for the banks that are currently providing services for legal, state-regulated marijuana businesses. You can watch the video by clicking HERE and send a message to your federal lawmakers to support the SAFE Banking Act.

Letter To Senate Appropriators: This week, a bipartisan group of 18 Senators signed a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the powerful Appropriations Committee to demand that in the process of directing funding for the Department of Justice, the lawmakers should restrict the DoJ from being able to interfere with lawful state-regulated programs.

The senators wrote that rescinding years of guidance has created “disruption, confusion, and uncertainty throughout the country. Citizens who have been acting in good faith based on federal and state assurances now feel exposed. This disruption may deny medications to the sick, push individuals back into illicit markets, and nullify the previously-effective regulations – all while thwarting the democratically-expressed will of the states.”

“It is our hope that the fiscal year 2018 appropriations will alleviate the turbulence the Attorney General’s abrupt decision has caused and that the appropriations will help preserve the strong regulatory frameworks the states have created,” the senators continued. “Doing so will provide the opportunity to pursue federal legislation that both protects the legitimate federal interests at stake and respects the will of the states – both those that have liberalized their marijuana laws and those that have not.”

The letter include U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-WV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maria Cantwell(D-WA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Edward Markey (D-MA).

Click here to read the letter and click here to send a message to your federal officials in support of pending legislation to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. 

New Justice Supporter: This week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York added her name as a cosponsor to The Marijuana Justice Act, making her the 3rd member of the Senate to be on the bill. Specifically S. 1689 and HR 4815 would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs. Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of the Marijuana Justice Act. 

Additionally, Senator Cory Booker added the language of the Marijuana Justice Act as an amendment to the criminal justice bill that is moving, however, that effort was unsuccessful.

DoJ Nominees Move Forward: Senator Gardner has backed down from his threat to the Department of Justice to block Senate-confirmable nominees after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the longstanding guidance memos including the 2013 Cole Memo.

Categories: Blog Feeds

The answer is ‘no’

DrugWarRant - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 13:23

CBS News Moneywatch brings it up: Should employers keep testing workers for pot?

According to executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which favors eliminating marijuana preemployment screening, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find qualified applicants who don’t smoke weed at a time when unemployment is at a 17-year low.

“While it is good policy to ban drugs and alcohol in the workplace, what workers do after hours — as long as it does not impair the company’s operations or productivity, or otherwise do harm — should not have any bearing on how workers are viewed by their employers,” Andrew Challenger, a vice president at the firm, said in a press release.

It’s really time to end this practice that has been more about profits for drug-testing companies than workplace safety. Finally, companies are starting to realize that their most productive workers are those who feel valued and respected, and may not be those who mindlessly turn their entire lives over to the Corporation.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Open Thread

DrugWarRant - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 13:00

Sorry for my absence from the couch recently. I’ve been taking a bit of a break to deal with other things.

I’m currently the musical director for a wonderfully bizarre production: “Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play” by Anne Washburn at Illinois State University.

I’m also working on musical direction for the delightfully complex “Floyd Collins” by Adam Guettel and Tina Howe at Heartland Theatre.

On March 3, I’ll be the Luncheon Speaker at the 2018 Libertarian Party of Illinois Convention, speaking about the Drug War and talking about DrugWarRant.com.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Philadelphia: District Attorney To Cease Prosecuting Marijuana Possession Offenders

NORML Blog - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 13:50

Philadelphia officials announced today that they will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offenses.

In October 2014, Philadelphia enacted a municipal ordinance reclassifying cases involving the possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis to a non-summary civil offense, punishable by a $25 fine – no arrest and no criminal record. Since that time, annual arrests for marijuana possession violations have fallen by an estimated 85 percent. However, despite this decrease, police have continued to make several hundreds of marijuana possession arrests yearly. These arrest primarily target young people pf color.

Newly elected District Attorney Larry Krasner declared today that the city will no longer prosecute those additional cases. “What we’re talking about is the 10 percent or so that are being charged as they used to be, as misdemeanors in court,” he said. “We are going to … drop any cases that are simply marijuana possession.”

Krasner said that refusing to pursue these cases is “the right thing to do.”

Last week, Seattle city officials announced their intentions to vacate the criminal convictions of minor marijuana possession offenders. The week prior, city officials in San Francisco announced plans to automatically expunge thousands of past marijuana possession convictions.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/16/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 11:44

Welcome to this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

First, I’d like to highlight a key development at the federal level pertaining to established marijuana businesses and consumers.

Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) has introduced the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act which would basically codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo. Essentially, the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act would give peace of mind to lawmakers, regulators, 149,000 workers, and the millions of patients and consumers who are dependent on the normalization of lawful marijuana markets. The most essential component in creating a stable business environment to meet consumer demand is certainty and that is what states would have with Rep. Correa’s legislation to protect state-lawful programs from militant marijuana prohibitionist Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Click here to send a message to your Representative in support of the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act. 

Also, earlier this week, bestselling guidebook author and travel host Rick Steves held two briefings on Capitol Hill to address marijuana prohibition to a gathering of members of Congress and their staff. Steves serves as a member of the board of NORML and has advocated extensively in support of the successful legalization efforts in Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and his home state of Washington.

At the state level, the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee voted unanimously to pass HB 1251, to expand the state’s medical CBD law, amended to include a new emergency enactment clause requested by Governor Ralph Northam, and will now go into effect immediately upon his signature. Enactment of this historic legislation would make Virginia the first state with a hyper-restrictive program to adopt such a broad expansion.

Also, Pennsylvania medical cannabis sales began on Thursday as the state’s first dispensary opened its doors.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Connecticut

Democratic Representative James Albis, along with over 20 co-sponsors, has introduced legislation — HB 5112 and HB 5111 — to regulate and tax the retail sale of marijuana to adults.

The tax revenue raised by commercial retail sales would be used to fund substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs.

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

West Virginia

Legislation is pending, House Bill 3035, to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana.

The bill states that “In the interest of allowing law-enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes, generating revenue for education and other public purposes, and individual freedom, the Legislature of the State of West Virginia finds that the use of marijuana should be legal for a person twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.”

Update: Similar legislation has also been introduced to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana, House Bill 4491.

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

New Mexico

Legislation is pending, HM 67 and SM 55, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

Update: HM 67 was approved unanimously by the House, and SM 55 was approved by the Senate with a 36-1 vote.

NM resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

Arizona

Legislation is pending, HCR2037, to put the issue of legalizing the adult use of marijuana before voters this November.

The resolution seeks to place a question on the 2018 ballot regarding the adult use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis.

AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to leave it up to the voters

Maryland

Legislation is pending, HB 268 and SB 181, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

Update: A hearing was held on February 15 on SB 181.

MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, HB 1893, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

Update: HB 1893 was heard by the Health and Human Services Committee on February 15.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

Additional Actions to Take

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, HB 1477, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement.

If passed, HB 1477 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana.

Update: HB 1477 was approved by The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee by a vote of 14-4.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past marijuana convictions

Colorado

Newly proposed legislation, The Marijuana Consumer Employment Discrimination Protection Bill, seeks to protect medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

This bill would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test. It would also require employers to provide objective evidence that an employee is unable to perform their job adequately because of marijuana use prior to taking any punitive action.

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

Alaska

Senator Tom Begich has introduced legislation, SB 184, to seal the convictions of past marijuana possession offenders.

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

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

Maryland

Legislation is pending, House Bill 698 to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program.

The bill seeks to “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.”

Update: A hearing was held for HB 698 on February 14.

MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the industrial hemp program

Utah

Legislation is pending, HB 197, “to ensure the cultivation and processing of cannabis in the state for academic or medical research purposes.”

If passed, this bill mandates the Department of Agriculture to engage in the cultivation, processing, and distribution of marijuana for the purposes of engaging in academic or medical research.

Update: HB197 was passed by the House by a vote of 38-32 on February 13, after it died on a narrow vote last week and was resurrected on Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

UT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

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Medical Marijuana Sales Begin in Pennsylvania

MPP Blog - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 15:34

Today marks an historic day in the Keystone State. Less than two years after the governor signed Act 16 into law, six dispensaries have begun selling medical marijuana to patients and caregivers. Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the country, and those involved in implementation should be applauded for reaching this point ahead of schedule.

To date, 10 dispensaries and 10 grower/processors have been approved to operate. Over the next few months, we expect up to 81 dispensary locations to open across the state. More than 17,000 patients have registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, with nearly 4,000 certified by a physician. As of this week, 708 physicians have registered with the department and 376 have competed the training to become certified practitioners.

However, the implementation process is not yet complete. The Medical Marijuana Advisory Board is still working on its recommendations for changes to the program. This week, they met to discuss one of the most important issues — allowing patient access to medical cannabis flower. This is a vital expansion of the program that will improve patient access and lower costs. Only two states have attempted a medical program without flower, which led to disastrous results for patients. You can learn more about the importance of patient access to flower here.

If you want to learn more about becoming a registered patient, visit the DOH website.

The post Medical Marijuana Sales Begin in Pennsylvania appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Federal Legislation To Protect Legal Marijuana States And Businesses

NORML Blog - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 09:55

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

Upon the introduction, Rep. Correa said, “To date, eight states have legalized recreational cannabis, and twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, representing more than half of the American population, have enacted legislation to permit the use of cannabis. Attorney General Sessions’ decision to rescind the “Cole Memo” created great uncertainty for these states and legal cannabis businesses, and put citizens in jeopardy for following their state laws.

In my state of California, voters want legal cannabis. It boosts our economy and is a strong medical tool. By 2020, revenues from cannabis sales taxes could reach $1 billion annually for California. This bill will protect California and other states from federal overreach and ensure the will of the American voter is respected.”

Essentially, the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act would give peace of mind to lawmakers, regulators, 149,000 workers, and the millions of patients and consumers who are dependent on the normalization of lawful marijuana markets. The most essential component in creating a stable business environment to meet consumer demand is certainty and that is what states would have with Reps. Correa’s legislation to protect state-lawful programs from militant marijuana prohibitionist Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Click here to send a message to your Representative in support of the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act. 

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Update: Federal Judge Reserves Decision After Hearing Arguments In Washington, et.al v. Sessions

NORML Blog - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 19:06

Today, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York heard oral arguments on the motion to dismiss Washington, et.al v. Sessions, et.al, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Schedule I classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. The federal government argued to have the case dismissed. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York reserved the decision.

The lead attorney for the case, Michael Hiller released the following statement:

First, we would like to thank Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein for taking the time to hear the important oral argument made today. We appreciate the time he took to hear from the plaintiffs we represent —  all whom have heartbreaking stories about how their everyday lives continue to be negatively impacted by the prohibition of cannabis.  

 

Protecting our American values, way of life and civil and constitutional rights are who we are as Americans. To many, it is obvious, we are living in an era where we must remain vigilant and ask hard questions. If we look back at our collective history, this is not the first time we have seen some in the US government shamefully argue out-dated ideologies under a legal mask that is inevitably on the wrong side of history. We saw this with slavery, segregation, women’s right to vote, the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, gay marriage, and sadly, countless other times.  

 

We’ve seen civil rights trampled on before, but we have also seen everyday Americans and leaders rise to the occasion and have our judicial branch recognize when an interpretation of the law is obviously tragically flawed and wrong.  

 

The stated basis for the Controlled Substances Act was to help Americans’ lives. However, today, the federal government came to court to preserve the right to put Americans in jail, who use cannabis — even when it used as an alternative medicinal treatment to addictive opioids and powerful prescription drugs. Tragically, what the federal government has done is taken the Controlled Substances Act and turned it on its head. Sadly, the government is now using the ‘Act’ to hurt and oppress US citizens, rather to liberate, deliberate and help them treat their illnesses and diseases.  

 

We firmly believe the federal government is prostituting and perverting the Controlled Substances Act as well as blatantly criminalizing behavior that they themselves are inducing. We look forward to standing on the right side of history and ensuring that cannabis is descheduled once and for all as well as to receiving Judge Hellerstein’s decision, and moving the case forward.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case include Michael Hiller and Lauren Rudick of Hiller, PC, NORML Legal Committee member Joseph Bondy, and Empire State NORML Director David Holland.

A judge for the Federal District Court in Sacramento heard similar arguments in a 2014 legal challenge, also spearheaded by members of the NORML Legal Committee, but ultimately rejected them – opining: “At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional. But this is not the court and not the time.”

Plaintiffs in the current lawsuit include a former NFL football player, a disabled military veterans, two children with severe movement disorders, and the non-profit group, the Cannabis Cultural Association. Plaintiffs argue that federal prohibition violates their civil and constitutional liberties, including their right to freely travel within the United States. They also argue that the federal prohibition of cannabis is “grounded in discrimination and [is] applied in a discriminatory manner.”

Lawyers for the Justice Department argued today for a dismissal of the suit, opining: “There is no fundamental right to use marijuana, for medical purposes or otherwise. Because such a right is not ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty’ or ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history,’ the Court should reject such a claim.”

The judge asked how anyone could say that the plaintiffs’ lives “have not been saved by marijuana.”

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West Virginia to Consider Medical Marijuana Improvements

MPP Blog - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 15:14

West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda, who championed last year’s medical cannabis legislation, has put forward a new bill for 2018 seeking to make the medical cannabis program more accessible for patients.

SB 487 would make several positive changes to the law, including allowing patients and caregivers to grow their own limited supply of cannabis. It would also eliminate onerous restrictions on doctors and make it easier for patients to qualify. You can read a summary of the bill here.

The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Board is also expected to consider changes to the current law later this month.

The post West Virginia to Consider Medical Marijuana Improvements appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Travel Writer and Television Host Rick Steves Briefed Congress On Marijuana Policy

NORML Blog - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 12:03

Steves House Briefing

Yesterday on Capitol Hill, bestselling guidebook author and travel host Rick Steves held two briefings to address marijuana prohibition to a gathering of members of Congress and their staff. Inspired by Europe’s pragmatic approach to drug policy, with success measured by harm reduction rather than incarceration, Steves said that he is motivated to speak in favor of legalization because of its impact on civil liberties.

“ There are so many reasons to end the prohibition on marijuana. Whether you’re concerned about the well-being of children, fairness for minority communities, redirecting money away from criminals and into state’s coffers, stemming the horrific bloodshed in Mexico, or civil liberties; it is clearly time for a new approach,” said Rick Steves.

The discussion on marijuana policy covered the current issues stemming from the current tension between federal prohibition and the ever-evolving patchwork of marijuana law reforms at the state level.

“It’s not 2010, we have years of data that is showing from my home state of Washington that regulation works,” said Steves.

Steves Senate Briefing

One of the nation’s leading voices to end the prohibition of marijuana, Rick Steves serves as a member of the board of NORML and has advocated extensively in support of the successful legalization efforts in Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and his home state of Washington.

The events were organized by NORML in cooperation with the recently formed bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus. The Cannabis Caucus bills itself as “to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.”

“Rick Steves has worked for decades to shine a light on the impact of our outdated marijuana laws. He has been a tireless advocate to end cannabis prohibition,” said Rep. Blumenauer, co-chair of the Cannabis Caucus. “We are thrilled to welcome him to Capitol Hill as we continue to educate Members and their staff about the importance of addressing this issue now.”

 

Click here to send a message to your federal officials and demand that they reform our nations marijuana laws.

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Federal Judge To Hear Arguments Wednesday In Legal Fight Challenging The Constitutionality Of Marijuana’s Illicit Status

NORML Blog - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 13:25

A judge for the Federal District Court in Manhattan will hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of federal cannabis prohibition. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case include NORML Legal Committee member Joseph Bondy and Empire State NORML Director David Holland.

The 98-page complaint contends that the federal government “does not believe, and upon information and belief never has believed” that cannabis meets the requirements for a Schedule I designation under the Controlled Substances Act. It further argues that current administrative mechanisms in place to allow for the reconsideration of cannabis Schedule I classification are “illusory.”

A judge for the Federal District Court in Sacramento heard similar arguments in a 2014 legal challenge, also spearheaded by members of the NORML Legal Committee, but ultimately rejected them – opining: “At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional. But this is not the court and not the time.”

Plaintiffs in the current lawsuit include a former NFL football player, a disabled military veterans, two children with severe movement disorders, and the non-profit group, the Cannabis Cultural Association. Plaintiffs argue that federal prohibition violates their civil and constitutional liberties, including their right to freely travel within the United States. They also argue that the federal prohibition of cannabis is “grounded in discrimination and [is] applied in a discriminatory manner.”

Lawyers for the Justice Department are arguing for a dismissal of the suit, opining: “There is no fundamental right to use marijuana, for medical purposes or otherwise. Because such a right is not ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty’ or ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history,’ the Court should reject such a claim.”

Full text of the complaint, Washington et al. v. Sessions et al., is available online here.

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Federal Spending Deal Keeps Medical Marijuana Protections in Place… For Another Few Weeks

MPP Blog - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 14:48

After a government shutdown lasting only a few hours, Congress passed yet another temporary spending bill on Friday that will keep medical marijuana patients and providers safe for a little while longer. The bill includes the amendments that has been part of the spending budget since 2014, which prevents the Department of Justice from spending resources to prosecute people or businesses that are in compliance with state laws. This deal is set to expire on March 23.

Congress will need to pass another spending bill before then in order to continue keeping state medical marijuana programs safe. In the event of a government shutdown, there will be nothing to stop federal prosecutors from targeting medical marijuana programs around the country.

However, supportive lawmakers are using the temporary reprieves to push for even more comprehensive protections, including amendments that would extend protections to businesses in the adult-use market.

Please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support state marijuana protections in the final spending bill.

 

The post Federal Spending Deal Keeps Medical Marijuana Protections in Place… For Another Few Weeks appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/9/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 08:44

Welcome to this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

First, I’d like to highlight a key development at the federal level pertaining to established medical marijuana businesses and consumers.

The protections for lawful medical marijuana patients and businesses from the Department of Justice provided by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer budget amendment was temporarily extended through March 23rd and we are working to ensure that it will be a part of any budget deal for the rest of the fiscal year. In the last week alone, NORML members sent thousands of messages to members of Congress and we plan to keep the pressure up. If you have not already, send a letter to your elected officials in support of extending these important protections.

At the state level, New Jersey lawmakers are set to begin holding hearings on marijuana legalization next month, with the first one scheduled for March 5th, and activists in Maryland lobbied state lawmakers in the capital to support legislation that would put legalization on this year’s November ballot.

Additionally, at the state level, an Indiana medical marijuana bill is dead for this session.

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

West Virginia

Legislation is pending, House Bill 3035, to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana.

The bill states that  “In the interest of allowing law-enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes, generating revenue for education and other public purposes, and individual freedom, the Legislature of the State of West Virginia finds that the use of marijuana should be legal for a person twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.”

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

New Jersey

Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 1557 to legalize adult use marijuana possession and to provide for record expungement for certain past marijuana offenses.

The bill would legalize marijuana by removing all criminal liability associated with marijuana from the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. With respect to criminal or disorderly persons offense convictions pre-dating marijuana legalization that relate to marijuana possession, use or being under the influence of marijuana, or failure to make lawful disposition of marijuana, these convictions would be expunged in an expedited process.

Unlike Assembly Bill 1348 and Senate Bill 830, this measure does not establish a regulated commercial market governing the production and retail sale of marijuana.

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

 

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Legislature is considering HB 656, a bill which would legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years or older.

The bill also allows the cultivation, possession, and use of hemp, and calls for retail sales and generation of state revenues through taxation, as well as authorizes the licensing of marijuana wholesale, retail, cultivation, and testing facilities.

Update: a public hearing is happening on 2/13 at 10:00AM in Legislative Office Building 210-211.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalizing marijuana

Nebraska

Senator Wishart has introduced a constitutional amendment, LR293CA, to put this issue of medical marijuana legalization to a direct vote on this year’s November ballot.

Update: LR293CA was heard by the Judiciary Committee on 2/8/18.

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

Arizona

Representative Mark Cardenas (D) has introduced legislation, House Bill 2014, to decriminalize marijuana possession offenses.

House Bill 2014 reclassifies minor marijuana possession offenses from a felony to a civil offense, punishable by a maximum $100 fine only — no arrest, no criminal prosecution, and no criminal record.

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

Tennessee

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

If passed, these bills would place the following advisory question on the November 2018 ballot:

Should the Tennessee legislature approve the use of medical marijuana?

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of a ballot question

Alabama

Republican State Senator Dick Brewbaker has introduced Senate Bill 251, which seeks to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. By contrast, the measure also enhances penalties for offenses involving the possession of marijuana over one ounce.

Senate Bill 251 reduces penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,000 fine, to a non-criminal violation and punishable by a fine of no more than $250 — no arrest and no criminal record.

However, provisions in the bill also reclassify offenses involving quantities of marijuana above one ounce as felonies.

AL resident? Click here to email your elected officials  and urge them to amend SB 251 in a manner that benefits all marijuana possession offenders

South Carolina

Legislation is pending, H 3521: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions.

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

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

Idaho

Legislation is pending to provide “for the lawful use and possession of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD), if prescribed by a (licensed) practitioner.”

Similar legislation seeking to provide qualified patients with CBD access was vetoed by Gov. Otter in 2015.

Update: The bill, RS25862, was approved for consideration by the Idaho House Health & Welfare Committee.

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

Additional Actions to Take

Vermont

Legislation is pending, H.865, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement.

If passed, H.865 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting expungement for any past marijuana violation that is no longer defined as a crime under state law.

VT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past marijuana convictions

 California

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) has introduced legislation, AB 2069, to strengthen employment rights for medical cannabis patients.

The bill 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.

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

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program.

Federal law explicitly authorizes states to engage in the state-authorized cultivation of hemp for research purposes. Over two dozen states have enacted legislation permitting licensed hemp cultivation in a manner that is compliant with federal law.

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

Illinois

Legislation is pending, SB 336, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

Update: SB 336 passed the Senate Executive Committee on February 7 by a vote of 16-1.

IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to put opioid dependence on the list of qualifying conditions

Alaska

Legislation is pending, HB 300, to make Alaska a so-called ‘sanctuary state’ for licensed marijuana operators, prohibiting “the expenditure of state or municipal assets to enforce federal marijuana laws.”

With US Attorney General Jeff Sessions having recently rescinded federal guidance memos protecting state-licensed, marijuana-related activity, passage of this legislation is more crucial than ever.

AK resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to make Alaska a sanctuary state

Hawaii

Democratic State Representative John Mizuno has introduced legislation, HB 2740, to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii.

Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status.

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

Utah

Republican Brad Draw has introduced legislation, HB 197, “to ensure the cultivation and processing of cannabis in the state for academic or medical research purposes.”

If passed, this bill mandates the Department of Agriculture to engage in the cultivation, processing, and distribution of marijuana for the purposes of engaging in academic or medical research.

UT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana research

Check back next week for more legislative updates!

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