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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!

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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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Senator Jeff Merkley Cosponsors The Marijuana Justice Act

NORML Blog - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 09:52

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).

The Marijuana Justice Act is the first ever companion legislation that has been introduced in both chambers of Congress remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The bills, 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.

The House companion legislation is being sponsored by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and has 37 additional cosponsors.

Click here to send a message to your federal officials to tell them to follow suit and cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act.

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NORML PAC Endorses Jared Polis for Colorado Governor

NORML Blog - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 07:29

NORML PAC is pleased to announce our endorsement of Jared Polis for Governor of Colorado.

During his tenure in Congress, Jared Polis has been the preeminent champion for ending our nation’s failed federal prohibition on marijuana and an unrelenting force in standing up for Colorado’s legalization and medical marijuana laws. At this crucial time in the fight for sensible marijuana policy, Coloradans need an outspoken defender of their state’s right to legalize and regulate marijuana. 

Click here to spread the word on Twitter

Click here to make a post on Facebook

Jared Polis is the only choice for Colorado governor who will truly stand up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his prohibitionist agenda and aggressively defend the will of the majority of Coloradans who voted to approve and still support the regulated adult use of marijuana.

Colorado deserves a leader who will stand up and fight for the Colorado’s legalization law and serve as an advocate to encourage other states to follow in the Rocky Mountain State’s footsteps, Colorado deserves a leader like Jared Polis. Help us make that a reality.

Commenting on the endorsement, Jared Polis stated:  “I’ve been proud to lead the fight for cannabis reform in Congress, and NORML has been an incredibly valuable partner in that effort, Here in Colorado, we’ve proven that legal cannabis creates jobs; funds schools, not cartels; and boosts our economy, not our prison population, and I look forward to growing this industry. It’s an honor to have NORML’s endorsement, and I will proudly stand with them against Jeff Sessions or anyone else who tries to come after legal cannabis in Colorado.”

Click here to spread the word on Twitter

Click here to make a post on Facebook

Political campaigns live and die on the support of volunteers. If you can sign up to help canvas voters, phone bank, or just general assist the Polis for Colorado campaign, you can sign up to HERE.

If you want to make a contribution towards his victory in the primary election, you can do so HERE.

Jared is running in in the Democratic primary which will be held on June 26th. Click HERE to check your voter registration, find your polling place, and learn more about voting in Colorado.

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Injustice in NYC: marijuana arrests far more likely for minorities

MPP Blog - Tue, 05/22/2018 - 12:28

We’ve known for years that marijuana laws disproportionately harm people of color, but the results of a recent New York Times investigation are still shocking. According to the report:

  • Black New York City residents are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites; Hispanic residents are five times more likely.
  • During the first three months of this year, 89% of the 4,000 marijuana arrests in New York City were Black or Hispanic.

It doesn’t make sense to arrest an adult for possessing or consuming marijuana, but the racial disparities in these arrest rates make the injustice of marijuana prohibition even more intolerable.

The situation in New York City is so morally indefensible that the Manhattan district attorney announced his office will no longer prosecute low-level marijuana cases, and Mayor Bill de Blasio is directing police to stop arresting people for public consumption of marijuana.

Those are positive steps, but the solution is to repeal the destructive policy of marijuana prohibition.

 

The post Injustice in NYC: marijuana arrests far more likely for minorities appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Join us this summer for the 2018 NORML Conference

NORML Blog - Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:05

NORML is pleased to formally announce the dates for our 2018 National NORML Conference and Lobby Day. The conference will run from July 22nd – 24th in Washington, DC at the Capital Hilton. This year, we are excited to add an additional day of activities in addition to our traditional programming. Click here to register now!

July 22nd: NORML Activist Strategy Summit

For 2018, we’ve going to do a deep dive into grassroots organizing with the NORML Activist Strategy Summit. Attendees will be able to choose from a number of important areas of interest and engage in free-flowing, peer to peer strategizing on issues including running an effective chapter, communications strategy, social media and online activism, and more. Each topic area will be moderated by outstanding NORML activists from across the country paired with a member of the National staff and provide an outlet for individuals to share stories based on their advocacy experiences, exchange tips for best practices, and come up with new concepts to put into play to help push us closer to the end of prohibition.

Topics include: Organizing political candidate forums, “big organizing” for lobby days, personal narrative development, and more.

July 23rd: NORML Conference & Benefit Party

On Monday, July 23rd we will host our formal conference programming. There will be panels, debates, and individual speakers covering a wide range of topics including: marijuana and its impact on the opioid crisis, how to engage in local reform efforts, NORML’s role in the 2018 midterms, marijuana reform as a social justice issue, and updates current 2018 ballot initiative efforts.

In the evening, attendees will gather for a NORML benefit party to enjoy live entertainment and networking.

July 24th: Congressional Lobby Day

For the final day, NORML supporters will once again descend upon Congress to advocate for federal reforms. The reason we chose to hold the conference and lobby day at this point in the calendar was because this week represents the final week of legislative session before lawmakers go home for the August recess when they will be explaining to voters why they should be reelected.

Last year, we had activists from 24 different states attend over 150 scheduled meetings with Congressional offices and we aim to exceed that this year, with your help!

REGISTER NOW TO RESERVE YOUR PLACE AT THIS IMPORTANT EVENT

We are at a critical time for our nationwide movement to end marijuana prohibition. Join citizens from all across the country to learn new strategies, hear about the latest scientific and political advancements in the reform movement, and meet in person with your elected officials and their offices to advocate for legalization. With over 60 percent of the American people in support of ending prohibition and three-quarters of voters supporting the states that have done so, the time to act is now.

Can’t wait to see all of you this summer!

The NORML Team

P.S. Can’t make it in July? Our efforts are supported by thousands of people throughout the country as we work to advance marijuana reform in all 50 states and the federal level. Can you kick in $5, $10, or $20 a month to help us keep going?

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Weed the People

DrugWarRant - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:20

New York Daily News editorial today: End the war on pot: We welcome the push to legalize and regulate marijuana

After many decades of treating as a crime the personal possession and use of a drug that is a negligible threat to public safety, New York is awakening to the folly of — and racial disparities widened by — its approach.

We are part of this awakening, which is why we welcome the push to legalize and regulate marijuana. By every honest measure, the substance has more in common with alcohol and tobacco than it does harder drugs that are rightly illegal.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 5/18/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 09:32

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

Good news – on Thursday the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee for the first time heard and passed language, known as the Joyce amendment, to restrict funding for the Department of Justice to prosecute state-legal medical marijuana programs.

At the state level, Governor Jeff Colyer (R) of Kansas signed a bill exempting CBD from the definition of marijuana. Until then, Kansas was one of the four states in the US that had not reformed it’s marijuana laws to any extent. Now, it’s just down to three – South Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska.

Additionally, Governor Doug Ducey (R) of Arizona signed hemp legislation into law, the Illinois Senate sent a bill allowing medical cannabis at schools to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), and Michigan’s House speaker said the legislature won’t take up marijuana legalization and will instead leave it up to the voters this November.

At a more local level, district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn announced that with limited exception, low-level marijuana-related offenses would no longer be prosecuted. And The Allentown, Pennsylvania City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

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

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

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

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

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

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

Rhode Island

Senator Joshua Miller introduced legislation, SB 2895, to regulate adult use marijuana possession and provide for adult use retail sales.

The measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to two marijuana plants in private, and establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities.

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

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

SB 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 by the Senate on 5/15.

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

Louisiana

HB 579 and HB 627 seek to expand the state’s nascent medical cannabis program.

The measures would expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis by permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, severe muscle spasms, autism or glaucoma.

Update: HB 579 was approved by the House on 5/16 by a 55-33 vote. HB 627 was also approved by the House on 5/16, by a 59-27 vote. Both bills now await action from Governor John Bel Edwards.

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

New Jersey

S 10, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program. The measure would increase the number of licenses the Department of Health can issue to new providers in order to meet New Jersey’s increased patient demand.

Other provisions in the bill would protect medical cannabis patients from employment, housing, and education discrimination.

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

California

AB 2069 seeks 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.

Update: AB 2069 was supposed to be heard by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee on 5/16, but the hearing was postponed by the committee.

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

 

Additional Actions to Take

California

Taxes
AB 3157 seeks to 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 by the committee.

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

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

Update: SB 930 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/22 at 10am in the John L. Burton Hearing Room.

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

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

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House Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Protections

MPP Blog - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 12:59

The House Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to continue blocking the Justice Department from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.

On a voice vote, the committee approved an amendment offered by Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) to the base FY2019 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, prohibiting the Justice Department from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes. The bill will now be considered by the full House.

Such a provision has been in effect since 2014, but this is the first time it has been added to the base CJS Appropriations bill in committee. In previous years, the measure, which was known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment (and subsequently the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment), was added to the bill as a floor amendment, but last year Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) blocked it from receiving a floor vote.

The post House Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Protections appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Rhode Island Legalization Bill Introduced

MPP Blog - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 10:59

Sen. Joshua Miller (D – Cranston) is once again submitting a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana in Rhode Island. As marijuana businesses are poised to open their doors in Massachusetts this summer, Sen. Miller hopes his colleagues will understand the wisdom in acting now.

“Legal marijuana sales will be available to Rhode Islanders as soon as Massachusetts retailers start offering it in July,” Sen. Miller said. “But Massachusetts will keep the revenue from the purchases when Rhode Islanders cross the border to get it.”

This legislation would make it legal for adults 21 and older to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana. It would also set up a system for the Department of Business Regulation to oversee the licensing and operation of legal marijuana businesses. Most importantly, Sen. Miller’s bill would end the failed approach of punishing adults who choose to use marijuana, a policy which has caused much harm in Rhode Island.

If you are a Rhode Island resident, please call your state senator and representative and ask them to push for a vote on Sen. Miller’s bill.

 

The post Rhode Island Legalization Bill Introduced appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Two Vermont Counties Will Host Expungement Events in June

MPP Blog - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 10:30

Now that Vermont’s marijuana legalization law is set to take effect on July 1, the state’s attorneys (prosecutors) for two counties have announced that they will host “Expungement Day” clinics in June to assist Vermonters with having their records cleared of misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Volunteers with the Center for Justice Reform at the Vermont Law School will reportedly assist with filling out expungement petitions in Windsor County on June 9 and in Chittenden County on June 12.

WHAT: Windsor County Expungement Clinic
WHERE: Vermont Law School, Oakes Hall Room 012, South Royalton
WHEN: Saturday, June 9, 9 a.m. to noon

WHAT: Chittenden County Expungement Clinic
WHERE: Costello Courthouse, Courtroom 2C, 32 Cherry Street, Burlington
WHEN: Tuesday, June 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Please note that there will likely be a fee required when the petition is filed.

If you have been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession in another Vermont county, you may wish to call and ask what it would take to have your record expunged. You can find phone numbers for all of Vermont’s state’s attorneys’ offices here.

The post Two Vermont Counties Will Host Expungement Events in June appeared first on MPP Blog.

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CBD Now Allowed Under Kansas Law — If It Has No THC

MPP Blog - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 10:26

In a small step forward for patients who could benefit from medical cannabis, the definition of “marijuana” under Kansas law was changed by SB 282 to exclude cannabidiol (CBD). However, because state law separately bans tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), it will be difficult for medical cannabis patients to take advantage of this provision, because most CBD products contain at least trace amounts of THC (“hemp” is sometimes defined as 0.3% THC or less).

The bill itself does not provide for in-state access to CBD oils in Kansas, and CBD products are generally still illegal under federal law, as the Drug Enforcement Administration clarified in a rule that was recently upheld in federal court. But, there may be a narrow exception under a federal law allowing hemp research programs — and Gov. Colyer also recently signed a bill that will create such a program in Kansas.

While there are a number of “CBD” products available online, these products are typically unregulated, and unfortunately some do not actually contain the amount of CBD on the label — or any at all — or they also contain THC or dangerous compounds such as heavy metals. A more reliable way to obtain CBD oil would be to get it in a state with a regulated cannabis market such as Colorado, but doing so can be costly and onerous.

Despite its limitations, this is step forward. Once the law takes effect (which will happen when it is formally published), if patients are caught in possession of CBD oil that contains no THC, they will no longer be subject to prosecution for marijuana possession under Kansas law. With the passage of this bill, Idaho is now the only remaining state that does not acknowledge the medical benefits of cannabinoids in any way!

The post CBD Now Allowed Under Kansas Law — If It Has No THC appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Historic House Appropriations Committee Vote On Marijuana

NORML Blog - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 09:39

Today, the House appropriations committee for the first time heard and passed language, known as the Joyce amendment, to restrict funding for the Department of Justice to prosecute state-legal medical marijuana programs.

“Today marks a victory for medical marijuana programs and a loss for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Passage of this amendment through regular order in the appropriations committee represents another big step in the normalization of state level marijuana reform in the Congress of the United States,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal

Previously, the amendment had not gone through the committee process and was inserted into the appropriations bill on the floor of the House, yet was blocked in 2017 by Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, a militant marijuana prohibitionist. The amendment was offered by Representative David Joyce (R-OH).

“States have clearly taken a lead on the access to medical marijuana for those suffering from severe pain looking for options other than opioids. I think it’s time we cut through the federal red tape for those 46 states, like Ohio, who have on some level legalized the medical use of cannabis. This gives the states more freedom to provide for their suffering citizens,” said Mr. Joyce upon the passage of his amendment.

“We thank Representative Joyce for his leadership to protect the 46 states that have reformed their marijuana policies and the over 2 million patients that they serve,” said Strekal.

Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, previously known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to Congressional leadership to remove these restrictions, writing: “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.”

According to recently released nationwide survey data, the majority of Americans are on our side. A whopping 94 percent support the medical use of marijuana. Perhaps most importantly, 70 percent of voters — including strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”

To send a message to your Representative in support of maintaining these protections, click here.

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Progressive Policy Change In New York City

NORML Blog - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 09:13

In a surprise joint press conference, Cyrus Vance Jr. and Eric Gonzalez, the respective District Attorneys of Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City, both announced that with limited exception low-level marijuana-related offenses would no longer be prosecuted.  Both cited a six-month-long study that revealed that there was no discernible impact upon issues of public health and safety by ending the prosecution of these minor cannabis offenses.  The positive side of this new policy is the discontinuance of the persecution of communities predominated by people of color who have been disproportionately arrested and prosecuted for these low-level cannabis offenses.  As such, both District Attorneys publicly vowed that as of August 1, 2018, they would no longer prosecute low-level marijuana possession and consumption cases.    The talismanic significance of that delayed date is unknown as New York City needs this program implemented now, not weeks from now.

This new approach comes on the heels of past mayoral pledges that sought to relax enforcement policies.  Until recent years, an individual caught smoking marijuana was required to be arrested and processed through the system resulting in criminal misdemeanor charges. Often the amount of time elapsing between arrest and arraignment would be anywhere from 12-24 hours or more before a defendant would be produced before the court to answer the charges.  Many of those charged with a cannabis misdemeanor would nonetheless have their cases effectively dismissed by moving under the Penal Law for an “ACD” which meant that the defendant’s case would be adjourned in contemplation of dismissal provided that they not be rearrested during a 6-month post-arraignment period.  The costs for in man hours and salaries to pursue even a single soon to be dismissed arrest was staggering.

Under Mayors Bloomberg and DeBlasio the process was significantly truncated where an individual would be arrested and processed at the police precinct and released with a “DAT” which was a desk appearance ticket advising the defendant to show up in court on a particular day in the future and answer the charges. Those DAT cases most often resulted in ACD status meaning that there was no criminal conviction for the defendant and the arrest would be stricken from their record after the probationary period of time.  But, it appears that prosecution approach was not equally applied to people of color who were still disproportionately arrested and given DATs even though the statistics show that marijuana use is relatively equal across all ethnicities.  It is this continued evident disparity that has prompted the pronouncement of the District Attorneys.

In a subsequent interview with a reporter at NY-1 news station, Cyrus Vance Jr., the DA for Manhattan, stated in sum and substance that the criminal prosecution of cannabis was essentially futile because there was no further intervention by the legal system which would otherwise admonish or assist the criminal defendant who’s case would eventually be dismissed in any event.

Under the new policy, the individual arrested would be issued a summons for a violation which is not a crime and the punishment being a monetary fine and/or a maximum of 15 days in jail rather than the 1 year period for a criminal misdemeanor conviction for cannabis.

While this is definitely a positive development it still waits to be seen if this new policy is applied more fairly and equally regarding people of color.  As the goal of the violation is for the city to not to continue to incur the expenses of futile criminal prosecutions, it is the goal of the city by means of violations to fill its coffers with monies collected from fines.  These are monies that would not otherwise be collected during the course of a criminal prosecution resulting in an ACD.

It will only be a matter of time to review the statistics to determine if people of color are finally be treated more fairly and equally in the newly proclaimed cannabis friendly administrations.

David Holland, Esq is the Executive and Legal Director of Empire State NORML in New York. You can visit their website by clicking here and follow them on Facebook and Twitter

 

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When It Comes To The Issue Of Cannabis And Opioids, The DEA Admits It Knows Nothing

NORML Blog - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 10:53

In testimony before Congress last week, by DEA acting administrator Robert Patterson opined that the medicalization of cannabis is exacerbating opioid abuse. But when prompted to provide evidence in support of the agency’s position, he acknowledged that he could not. Further, he denied being aware of any evidence — including recent, well-publicized studies by the US National Academy of Sciences and others — indicating that cannabis mitigates pain or that its legal access is associated with reduced levels of opioid-related mortality.

I summarize this mind-boggling exchange in my recent Hill op-ed, which is excerpted below

Specifically, when asked by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz if the DEA was aware of the landmark 2017 National Academy of Sciences study finding, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis [is] effective for the treatment for chronic pain,” Patterson answered that he was not.

He further acknowledged that he was unfamiliar with several state-specific, longitudinal studies, such as those from Minnesota and New Mexico, finding that chronic pain patients who register to partake in cannabis therapy dramatically decrease their use of opioids and other pain-relieving drugs. (Separate assessments of state-authorized medical cannabis patients in Illinois, Michigan, New York, and elsewhere affirm these conclusions).

He further claimed ignorance with regard to the findings of a highly publicized study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finding that medical cannabis regulation is associated with year-over-year declines in overall opioid-related mortality, including heroin overdose deaths.

Moreover, when pressed to provide evidence — any evidence — in support of the DEA’s questionable position, Patterson readily admitted that he knew of none. In fact, upon further questioning, he acknowledged that the DEA has, to date, never even so much as reviewed the issue. He further suggested that those patients seeking an alternative to opioid analgesics may wish to try “Tylenol.”

The testimony concluded:

Rep. Gaetz: “You’re the acting administrator of the DEA. You cannot cite a single study that indicates that medical marijuana creates a greater challenge with opioids, and you’re unaware of the studies, including studies from the National Academies of Sciences, that demonstrate that medical marijuana can be an acceptable alternative to opioids. Is that what I’m understanding?”

Robert Patterson: “Yes.”

To read the entire op-ed, please click the link here.

To watch a video of this exchange, as archived by MarijuanaMoment.net, please click here.

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New Leadership Energizes NORML Chapters in North Carolina

NORML Blog - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 10:29

North Carolina NORML along with several other pro-cannabis organizations recently organized the Tar Heel State’s largest pro-cannabis march in recent memory. There were people from across the state, and even some long time residents that had to move to a state that allows them to medicate the way they want, despite having a majority of their families here.

On April 20th, we saw the biggest push for reform at a federal level ever by North Carolinians. North Carolina NORML along with veterans, people with disabilities, and folks from all walks of life were able to come together and march in solidarity with one another.

The cannabis movement has been stagnant in North Carolina, at best. There is a great divide in supporters who are ready for any small step, even if that means giving up their right to grow their own or even to medicate with “flower” or bud. Other supporters within the state have a sense that if they settle for “extract only” laws or laws that restrict growing rights, that they will not be able to get those rights added in later.

To see fractions of the movement come together for this event is enormously satisfying. Under new leadership, North Carolina NORML has began turning up the heat and focused on getting people involved. We understand that people need to be constantly involved otherwise they get bored and move on. We need to make sure everyone is engaged, and informed , and that is what we have done, and will continue to do.

In addition to the 4/20 march which focused on an end to marijuana prohibition federally, we also took part in the Global Marijuana March on May 5th and have held monthly public meetings across the state to increase visibility and to give people an opportunity to start their own chapter. To continue the fight, North Carolina NORML is hosting its first Lobby Day next Tuesday, May 22, 2018, where members will be focused on inviting supporters of marijuana law reform efforts to educate lawmakers (RSVP HERE).

If you are a North Carolina voter, look forward to a voter guide on NC NORML’s website to help you choose candidates in the general election who favor (or not) and will sponsor bills if elected. Incumbents also have a chance to show supporters’ what they have sponsored or co-sponsored in the past. Reform is coming for North Carolina, and we refuse to be the last state to do so.

For more info, please call 828-455-8203 or email commdirector@ncnorml.org. You can also follow North Carolina NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

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Join NORML in Aspen for a Taste of Freedom

NORML Blog - Fri, 05/11/2018 - 15:00

We’re just a few weeks away from NORML’s annual Aspen Legal Seminar at the beautiful Gant Hotel. We hope you’ll join us there to enjoy a taste of freedom and connect with professionals committed to establishing industry best practices that are consumer-friendly and promote social justice. Network with leading criminal defense and cannabusiness attorneys who’ll share expert advice in federal and state marijuana laws. Indulge in a delicious meal by critically acclaimed chef Chris Lanter of Cache Cache restaurant at the NORML Benefit Dinner hosted by Chris and Gerry Goldstein.

RESERVE YOUR SPACE TODAY

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to share the event with your networks.

Link to share: https://norml.org/about/events/aspen-legal-seminar

Sample language for attendees:

Join me in Colorado for NORML’s Aspen Legal Seminar. Get expert advice from the best and the brightest in cannabis law while enjoying the sweet taste of freedom. Attorneys earn CLEs. You don’t want to miss this!

General sample language:

NORML’s Aspen Legal Seminar is just a few weeks away. Get expert advice from the best and the brightest in cannabis law while enjoying the sweet taste of freedom. Attorneys earn CLEs. You don’t want to miss this!

If you can’t join us this year, please consider a tax-deductible donation to the NORML Foundation in support of NORML’s work reforming marijuana laws. Click here to make a contribution.

As always, thank you for your continued support and dedication to NORML’s mission. Looking forward to seeing you in Aspen!

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 5/11/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 05/11/2018 - 09:34

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

Let’s talk about Congress. Earlier this week, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) cosponsored the Marijuana Justice Act! Sen. Harris announced in a video message that she will be joining Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Ron Wyden in promoting this important legislation. This comes just a week and a half after California senior Senator Diane Feinstein (D) told reporters that she has dropped her opposition to ending the federal prohibition of marijuana. And U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says he is cosponsoring Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) hemp legalization bill.

Additionally, in a historical first, a Congressional committee has advanced marijuana law reform legislation; one that would encourage the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct more studies on cannabis’ medical benefits.

At the state level, Michigan Senate Republicans are expected to discuss whether to enact marijuana legalization instead of allowing the question to appear on the November ballot, with the fear that a ballot question would turn out hundreds of thousands of democratic voters. The New Jersey Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee will hold a Saturday hearing on marijuana legalization, and county prosecutors across Vermont are looking at ways to expunge prior marijuana convictions.

Also, Connecticut’s legislative leaders said marijuana legalization is off the table for this session. As more state legislatures are adjourning for this year, more and more bills are dying, and therefore there are not as many legislative updates as we’ve been seeing earlier in the year.

At a more local level, The Allentown, Pennsylvania City Council gave initial approval to a proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance, and also adopted a resolution calling on state lawmakers to end cannabis criminalization. The Milwaukee County, Wisconsin County Board’s Judiciary Committee voted in favor of placing a nonbinding marijuana legalization on the November ballot, and Denver, Colorado is planning to use marijuana tax revenue to fund public housing.

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

Louisiana

House Bill 579 would expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis by permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, severe muscle spasms or glaucoma.

Update: HB 579 was approved by the Senate 25-9 on 5/9. The bill now heads back to the House for review of Senate changes. A separate measure, HB 627, to permit patients with autism to be able to qualify for medical cannabis access, also passed the Senate and awaits reconsideration by the House.

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

California

Assembly Bill 2069 seeks 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.

Update: AB 2069 will be heard by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee on 5/16 at 9am in State Capitol, Room 4202.

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

 

Additional Actions to Take

Arizona

Senate Bill 1098 seeks to establish an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program.

The program is designed to research the “growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp” by licensed providers. Lawmakers acknowledge that “developing and using industrial hemp can improve the economy and agricultural vitality” of Arizona.

Update: SB 1098 passed the Senate on 2/15 and passed the House on 5/3. It now awaits action from Governor Ducey.

AZ resident? Click here to email Gov. Ducey in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

Illinois

Senate Bill 2298 seeks to expand the state’s hemp law.

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

Update: SB 2298 was heard by the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee, and then approved by the committee on 5/8.

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

California

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

Update: SB 930 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/22.

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

Taxes
Assembly Bill 3157 seeks to temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis.

Update: AB 3157 was heard by the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions on 5/8, and then approved by the committee on 5/9. The bill will be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 5/16.

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

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

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