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Federal Medical Marijuana Protections Temporarily Extended, Again

NORML Blog - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 08:30

After a brief government shutdown, congressional leadership voted to enact a six-week continuing resolution that maintains present federal spending levels and priorities through March 23, 2018. The resolution extends medical cannabis patient protections imposed by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment until that date.

The amendment, which has been in place since 2014, 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.”

Without these protections, medical cannabis cultivators and dispensaries exist with a greater threat than normal of federal enforcement of national prohibition, yet the certainty that these protections will be honored have been in doubt throughout the entire Trump administration.

When President Trump signed the first Continuing Resolution in 2017, he issued a signing statement regarding the amendment:

“Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories. I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Essentially stating that his administration believes they can ignore these protections if they do not view them to be Constitutional.

Under this mentality, Attorney General Jeff Sessions could move in to shut down medical marijuana facilities at any point. Should Sessions crackdown, we are confident that we would win a court challenge, given previous rulings on this very question. However, it would be a reactive exercise after an enforcement action, and during that process, the patients who relied on a supply chain to get them their medication would not have a lawful means to do so.

So now, the government reopens under another CR, the protections are back in place, and we are right back where we were; in an uneasy détente. The threat of Sessions on one side and medical patients in a state-lawful system trying to alleviate their suffering.

Further, Congressional leadership must reauthorize this language as part of the forthcoming appropriations in order for the provisions to stay in effect in any new spending deal. Last July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered identical language before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved it. However, House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) has refused to allow House members to vote on similar language. The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled, should Congress ever set a FY18 budget, of which is already over a third of the way behind us.

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and tell them to retain these protections.

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Seattle To Vacate Criminal Convictions For Former Marijuana Offenders

NORML Blog - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 17:13

Following in the footsteps of San Francisco, Seattle city officials announced today that they will be vacating the criminal convictions of former marijuana offenders.

Seattle’s mayor and city attorney plan to ask the courts to vacate all misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions that were prosecuted before the plant was legalized in Washington state in 2012.

Between the years 1986 and 2010, police in Washington made an estimated 240,000 marijuana possession arrests.

Stated Mayor Jenny Durkan: “[T]his action is a necessary first step in righting the wrongs of the past and putting our progressive values into action. … Our action will affect people who had been convicted of offenses for conduct that is now legal under state law. People won’t have to take any actions like hiring a lawyer or going to a court hearing. … I hope these actions we’re taking here in Seattle can lay the foundation for other cities, counties and states to act, too.”

Last week, 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. Legislation to enact a similar automatic expungement policy statewide is pending in the California Assembly.

Legislation is also pending in Vermont to make it easier for those with past criminal marijuana convictions to petition the court for expungement. In Pennsylvania, legislation is anticipated to be introduced shortly to vacate previous marijuana convictions for patients who have enrolled in the state medical marijuana program.

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Virginia NORML Considered Instrumental in Passage of Medical Marijuana Expansion Legislation

NORML Blog - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 12:34

Virginia NORML has been focused on securing access and protection from prosecution for all patients since 2016. This session, our efforts paid off with unanimous passage of our Let Doctors Decide legislation, supported by the Joint Commission on Healthcare, in both the House and Senate.

Patients like Nikki Narduzzi, who is now our coalition director at Cannabis Commonwealth, will now have the same rights that were initially granted in 2015 to only intractable epilepsy patients. I have spent hundreds of hours with Nikki in the halls of the General Assembly, in Committee rooms, in district offices, in coffee shops talking to Virginia legislators about this groundbreaking expansion legislation.

“Little did I know, in 2015 when I attended my first local Virginia NORML chapter meeting, that patient advocacy would become such a large part of my life,” said Nikki. “For the past three years, I have been supported and mentored by courageous advocates like Virginia NORML’s Executive Director, Jenn Michelle Pedini who has worked tirelessly in the trenches to bring medical cannabis access to ALL Virginia patients.”

Virginia will be the first state to expand a hyper-restrictive single qualifying disorder program to include any diagnosed condition. This didn’t happen because of industry dollars or high powered lobbyists, it happened because two moms wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. We were pushed aside by other organizations interested in working for only small patient groups. We were railroaded by partisan antics more than once. We stood our ground, we pushed forward, and we prevailed.

Read more here: http://www.suffolknewsherald.com/2018/02/06/advocates-cheer-bills-passage/

To get involved or to stay up-to-date on the latest marijuana-related news in Virginia, make sure to visit our website at http://www.vanorml.org/ and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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On Building A Consumer Friendly Market In Nevada

NORML Blog - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 08:22

For decades, Las Vegas has been a place known to play fast and loose – and this is even becoming evident in our emerging Marijuana Industry. On January 16, 2018, hundreds of citizens, business owners, and marijuana consumers met to provide public comment on the proposed set of permanent regulations issued by the Nevada Department of Taxation at a public hearing. Taxation in Nevada certifies, audits, coordinates and educates hundreds of state-certified marijuana establishments such as dispensaries, cultivation facilities, production facilities and independent testing laboratories. In 2016, over 600,000 Nevadan’s voted to legalize marijuana, giving the Department of Taxation the authority to regulate the operation of Marijuana Establishments, award and limit licensing, and carry-out other provisions of ballot measure 2. However, due to lack of transparency in the scoring process outlined in the proposed regulations for how these licenses are awarded, dozens went on the record to speak out to the Commision in opposition.

There were many areas of concern, but because there is little clarity on how the applications for licenses are granted, it would appear there is instead, favors being given to Insiders. Multiple licenses of varying types are being awarded to the same small group of millionaires, allowing for extremely monopolistic practices. When an entity is able to cultivate, produce and dispense all of their own product, there is little incentive to vertically integrate other brands. Cultivators of great brands without a dispensing license are unable to sell their own product, leaving the success of their business in the hands of Dispensaries. In addition, license holders are able to resell licenses, and due to a cap on how many will be issued, the current value of a license is approximately $10 million. This bears significance on who is able to establish themselves in this surfacing industry and is shutting potential small businesses and minorities out. This over-burdened cost to obtain a license dramatically impacts the price tag on products available in the marketplace. Including the marijuana tax, ? of cannabis in Las Vegas is on average $65! Patients and locals have not only been faced with extreme costs but competition with tourists, resulting in limited availability.

After nearly 3 hours of public comment, the Taxation Commision still made a motion to move forward with the proposal after ZERO deliberation. Because it’s not too late, we are asking Nevadans to urge the Legislation to insist the Department of Taxation extend their deadline of March 1st in order to revisit the verbiage, paying close attention to what the Department can and cannot do according to Question 2. With other States looking at Nevada as a model for a successful program, it is vital the regulations be revisited to ensure fairness and inclusion instead of monopolies and reverting back to old Las Vegas ways.

Frank Sinatra once said, “Las Vegas is the only place I know where money really talks–it says, “Goodbye,”.”

Madisen Saglibene is the Executive Director of Las Vegas NORML. 

Visit their website at http://lvnorml.org/ and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Statement of ICC Prosecutor on Opening Preliminary Investigations in the Philippines and in Venezuela

Stop The Drug War - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 06:06

The ICC is a long and uncertain road.  But this is an important first step for stopping the drug war killings, restoring rule of law, and seeking justice. We commend Ms.

read more

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House Judiciary Democrats Call For Marijuana Hearing

NORML Blog - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 19:07

On February 7th, Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), requesting a hearing on the recent revocation of the Cole Memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The Cole Memo, was a Justice Department memorandum, authored by former US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states, directing prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

In their letter, the Democrats wrote:

“We fear that the elimination of the Obama Administration’s marijuana enforcement guidance will promote an inefficient use of limited taxpayer resources and subvert the will of voters who have clearly indicated a preference for legalized marijuana in their states.”

Rep. Goodlatte has refused to hold a hearing on marijuana since he took over as the Chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee, where any serious reform legislation would originate.

Recently, Congressman Jerry Nadler was elected by his colleagues to be the ranking member of the minority party on the committee. Rep. Nadler has earned an “A+” rating on the NORML Scorecard for his support of ending the federal prohibition of marijuana, positive votes when given the opportunity, and his co-sponsorship of legislation including the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act in the previous session of Congress.

The current Chairman of the committee is Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), a longtime opponent of marijuana reform who has earned a “D” on the NORML scorecard for voting against reform amendments when given the opportunity. However, Rep. Goodlatte had announced earlier this year that he will not be running for reelection, which will leave a wide-open race on the Republican side who will be the top member in the next Congress.

Given the political climate, in order to secure hearings on legislation that would end prohibition, it is essential that the next Chairman of the Judiciary be willing to address the issue.

In the meantime, we simply will have to wait and see how Rep. Goodlatte responds.

You can reach Congressman Goodlattes DC office by phone at: (202) 225-5431. If you call his office, let us know what his staff said in the comments below.

Here is the full letter by the Judiciary Democrats:

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Chairman
House Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Goodlatte:

We are deeply concerned by the recent action by Attorney General Sessions rescinding Department of Justice (DOJ) marijuana enforcement guidance issued during the Obama Administration.  We write to request a hearing of the full Judiciary Committee regarding this decision.

On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Sessions issued a memorandum to U.S. Attorneys eliminating marijuana enforcement priorities set forth under President Obama.  Previous memoranda issued during the Obama Administration, such as the memorandum issued in 2013 by then Deputy Attorney General James Cole (Cole Memo), made clear the considerations the federal government should use when deciding to prosecute violations of the Controlled Substances Act related to marijuana. Rather than targeting individuals in states that had legalized marijuana and consequently set up complex regulatory systems, the government focused on priorities that were significant to the federal government. These included preventing gangs and cartels from profiting from marijuana sales and ensuring that state-authorized marijuana was not used to hide other illegal activities.

We fear that the elimination of the Obama Administration’s marijuana enforcement guidance will promote an inefficient use of limited taxpayer resources and subvert the will of voters who have clearly indicated a preference for legalized marijuana in their states.  Further, the January 4 memorandum by Attorney General Sessions fails to provide any evidence that prosecuting marijuana in states where it has been legalized will make Americans safer.  DOJ should instead pursue enforcement strategies that are sensible, effective, and enhance public safety, and the Judiciary Committee should be included in these discussions.

The Judiciary Committee has a fundamental duty to conduct oversight on the Department of Justice.  It is critical that the members of our committee have an opportunity to ask questions about this recent rescission in a formal setting and evaluate potential legislation related to marijuana. Therefore, we respectfully request a hearing by the full Committee on these issues.

Sincerely,

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA)
Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
Representative David Cicilline (D-RI)
Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA)
Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)

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Study: Cannabis Is Safe And Effective For Elderly Patients

NORML Blog - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 11:37

Cannabis therapy is safe and effective among elderly patients diagnosed with chronic pain, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Hebrew University and the Ben Gurion University of Negrev in Israel assessed the use of therapeutic cannabis over a period of six months in a cohort of 1,186 patients above 65 years of age. The majority of patients enrolled in the trial suffered from pain or cancer. Under an Israeli federal program, over 32,000 citizens are licensed to utilize cannabis therapy.

“After six months of treatment, 93.7 percent of the respondents reported improvement in their condition, and the reported pain level was reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0-10 to a median of 4,” researchers reported. The majority of respondents also reported “a significant improvement in [their] overall quality of life.”

Furthermore, over 18 percent of the study’s participants “stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their dose” – a result that led investigators to conclude, “Cannabis can decrease the use of other prescription medicines, including opioids.” Numerous prior studies, such as those compiled here, similarly show that pain patients typically mitigate or eliminate their opioid use during cannabis therapy.

The adverse effects most commonly reported by participants were dizziness and dry-mouth.

Authors concluded: “The older population is a large and growing part of medical cannabis users. Our study finds that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and efficacious in this population.”

Read the abstract of the study, “Epidemiological characteristics, safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in the elderly,” here.

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Illinois Bill Would Allow Patients to Substitute Medical Marijuana for Opiates

MPP Blog - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 15:13

Illinois State Sen. Dan Harmon is championing a bill that would allow individuals who are prescribed opioids to qualify for access to medical cannabis. His bill, SB 336, is expected to receive a hearing tomorrow in the Senate Executive Committee.

Hundreds of thousands of people are prescribed opioids in Illinois. These drugs carry a very high risk of dependency, and they can cause significant long-term harm including the risk of overdose death. Medical cannabis is now providing relief around the country and reducing incidents of drug ovedose deaths where it is available. But Illinois is one of only three medical marijuana states where pain patients don’t qualify, unless they have a specifically listed disease.

This bill would also take the sensible step of removing the requirement that medical cannabis patients submit fingerprints, provided they qualify under the new provisions. It is a huge first step for the many Illinoisans suffering unbearable pain every day.

If you are an Illinois resident, please tell your senator to support SB 336 and vote “yes” if it is placed before the senator for a vote.

The post Illinois Bill Would Allow Patients to Substitute Medical Marijuana for Opiates appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Be a Member of the Movement

NORML Blog - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:05

When NORML was founded in late 1970, only 12% of the country supported legalizing marijuana; 88% were opposed to our goals. After decades of hard work by thousands of committed advocates like you, we have gradually won the hearts and minds of a majority of the public. Today, over 60 percent of adults nationwide support ending marijuana prohibition and establishing a regulated market where consumers can obtain marijuana in a safe and secure setting.

We are certainly proud of the enormous progress we have made toward ending marijuana prohibition, especially the gains we have made over the last several years. Today, 30 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana; eight states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized the recreational use of marijuana. And we continue to add more victories each year.

But legalization in Colorado means nothing to those who are arrested for simple possession in Georgia, just as a robust medical program in California means nothing to the cancer patient in North Carolina.

So far this year, we are pushing for over 70 pieces of legislation and expect that number to easily eclipse 150 in the coming weeks.

This is why your support is more important than ever and to show it, we’re bringing back the NORML membership cards.

The goal at NORML is to achieve a policy under which responsible cannabis consumers are treated fairly in all aspects of their lives.

First and foremost, our mission is to reform state and federal marijuana laws to ensure that no adult will ever face criminal or civil penalties for the responsible consumption of marijuana and that all Americans have the ability to access cannabis for medicinal use if recommended by their physician.

However, just because more states have begun to legalize adult-use and medicinal marijuana doesn’t mean the fight is over; cannabis consumers are still being penalized and discriminated against in a number of ways.

We believe that:

It is wrong that consumers remain subject to job discrimination. Employers ought not to be able to fire employees solely for their off-job marijuana usage, just as employers are unable to sanction employees who consume alcohol after work or on the weekends.

Marijuana consumers must not be subject to over-regulation and excessive taxation. Marijuana consumers want a product that is safe, convenient and affordable. We want the marijuana to be tested in a state-certified lab to assure it is free of molds and harmful pesticides, and we want accurate labelling of the THC and CBD levels.

And parents all too often have to fight to maintain custody of their children. The mere fact that a parent chooses to consume marijuana must not be treated under the law as a presumption they are unfit parents.

And thousands of drivers are arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, simply because they tested positive for some small amount of THC in their system, without the slightest evidence they were driving while impaired. NORML opposes the imposition of these zero-tolerance per se traffic safety laws and is lobbying for their repeal.

So, as you can see, we still have lots of work ahead of us — even in those states that have enacted some form of marijuana legalization. “>Please join our fight today by becoming a card-carrying member of NORML.

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Status Report: The Impact Of Adult Use Regulatory Schemes

NORML Blog - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 15:32

The legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults is associated with a drastic reduction in overall arrests, increased tax revenue, and is not adversely impacting public health or safety, according to a comprehensive report issued by the Drug Policy Alliance.

Among the report’s highlights:

Marijuana arrests are down. Arrests for marijuana in all legal marijuana states and Washington, D.C. have plummeted, saving states hundreds of millions of dollars and sparing thousands of people from being branded with lifelong criminal records.

Youth marijuana use is stable. Youth marijuana use rates have remained stable in states that have legalized marijuana for adults age 21 and older.

Marijuana legalization is linked to lower rates of opioid-related harm. Increased access to legal marijuana has been associated with reductions in some of the most troubling harms associated with opioids, including opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders.

Calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency departments for marijuana exposure remain relatively uncommon.

Legalization has not made the roads less safe. DUI arrests are down in Colorado and Washington. The total number of arrests for driving under the influence, of alcohol and other drugs, has declined in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to regulate marijuana for adult use. There is no correlation between marijuana legalization and crash rates. The crash rates in both states are statistically similar to comparable states without legal marijuana laws.

Marijuana tax revenues are exceeding initial estimates.

The marijuana industry is creating jobs. Preliminary estimates suggest that the legal marijuana industry employs between 165,000 to 230,000 full and part-time workers across the country.

The full DPA report is available online here. Their findings are similar to prior reviews of the impact of adult use regulatory schemes on health and safety, such as this 2016 CATO Institute report.

NORML has similarly compiled fact-sheets of the most relevant peer-reviewed data addressing the impact of legalization on health, safety, and the economy here.

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Virginia Senate Unanimously Approves Limited Medical Marijuana Bill

MPP Blog - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 15:01

On February 5, the Virginia Senate unanimously passed legislation that will permit doctors to recommend CBD or THC-A oil to their patients for any diagnosed condition or disease. The companion bill passed the House of Delegates unanimously on Friday, and the bill will now go to Gov. Ralph Northam, who is expected to sign it.

This bill expands Virginia’s CBD oil law, which previously limited the use of CBD oil to cases of “intractable epilepsy” only. This bill represents a major expansion of that program, allowing doctors to determine whether CBD or THC-A oil is right for any given patient. This law will provide relief to thousands of patients in the commonwealth and could help curb the ongoing opioid crisis in Virginia. We applaud all of the activists and patients who worked diligently to see this moment.

The post Virginia Senate Unanimously Approves Limited Medical Marijuana Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Weekly Legislative Update 2/2/2018

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

Welcome to the first NORML Legislative Roundup of 2018!

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 February 8th 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, NJ  Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order calling on state regulators to review the state’s eight-year-old medical cannabis access program, and a Virginia House bill to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis law was unanimously approved by the House floor.

Additionally, at the state level, several marijuana-related bills are already dead for this session. These include two Virginia bills to decriminalize marijuana possession, as well as four Mississippi bills- one to decriminalize possession, two related to medical marijuana, and the last to license and regulate adult use marijuana.

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.

Thanks for all you do and together we will win,
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

New Mexico

Democratic state Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino pre-filed legislation, SJR 4, to legalize, tax, and regulate adult use marijuana in New Mexico.

Update: The Senate Rules Committee voted four to three to approve SJR 4 today. If approved by lawmakers, voters would then be asked whether they want the state to legalize marijuana on this year’s November ballot.

NM resident? Click here to email your elected officials telling them it’s time to legalize marijuana

Minnesota

Legislation is pending in the House and Senate, HF 927 and SF 1320, to legalize the personal use and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for those 21 and older, and establish a licensing scheme for its commercial production and retail sale.

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

Maryland

Legislation is pending, SB 1027, to expand the state’s marijuana decriminalization law.

If passed, SB 1027 would amend penalties so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense. Under current law, the possession of more than ten grams of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

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

Virginia

Senator Siobhan S. Dunnavant (R-12) introduced SB 726 to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis law. Delegate Benjamin Cline (R-24) has introduced companion bill, HB 1251.

The measures would permit doctors to recommend CBD and THC-A oils to any patient they believe would benefit. Under present law, only a neurologist may recommend cannabis oils, and only for patients with intractable epilepsy.

Update: SB 726 has reported out of committee and is awaiting a floor vote. House Bill 1251 was approved by the House today with a vote of 98 to zero.

VA resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to leave it up to the medical professionals

Iowa

Legislation is pending, SF 280 and SF 432, to amend marijuana possession penalties for first-time offenders.

Senate File 280 and SF 432 reduce criminal penalties for possession of 5 grams of marijuana or less from a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000, to a simple misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 30 days in jail and/or a $625 fine.

Update: SF 432 was approved on a voice vote by the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee and now awaits action on the Senate floor, and SF 280 has cleared a Republican-led subcommittee in the Senate.

IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reducing possession penalties for first time offenders

Additional Actions to Take

New York

Legislation is pending in both chambers, A. 9016 and S. 7564 to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program

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 HHS yesterday in the House.

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

Pennsylvania

Democratic state Senator Anthony Williams has introduced Senate Resolution 258 to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

If passed, this resolution would urge Congress to take action to amend federal law so that states could regulate cannabis absent undue federal interference.

Update: A state Senate committee has unanimously approved the resolution to urge Congress to reevaluate marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I controlled substance and recognize marijuana’s medical purposes.

PA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of descheduling marijuana from the CSA

Arizona

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2144, to make Arizona a so-called ‘sanctuary state’ for licensed marijuana operators.

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.

If passed, this bill would prevent the state from providing federal agents with the names, addresses and/or other related information pertaining to businesses that have been issued permits to grow, distribute and sell marijuana.

AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana protections

Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

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Maine: Marijuana Moratorium Measure Expires

NORML Blog - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 16:04

Emergency legislation enacted in January 2017 to delay the implementation of several provisions of Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act expired today. Proposed legislation in Maine’s House of Representatives to extend the moratorium until May 1, 2018 failed by a vote of 81 to 65.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who opposed Question 1, had demanded lawmakers seek a nearly one-year additional extension to the existing moratorium. In November, Gov. LePage vetoed legislation that sought to implement provisions in the Act regulating the production and retail sales of cannabis to adults.

Absent the passage of explicit legislation governing the licensed production and retail sale of marijuana, there still remains no legal way for businesses in Maine to legally grow or sell cannabis commercially. Provisions in Question 1 permitting the establishment of state-licensed social clubs for adult marijuana users also remain indefinitely on hold.

By contrast, language in the Act prohibiting employers from taking punitive action against personnel for their off-the-job use of cannabis is anticipated to now go into effect. Specifically, the initiative states, “A school, employer or landlord may not refuse to enroll or employ or lease to or otherwise penalize a person 21 years of age or older solely for that person’s consuming marijuana outside of the school’s, employer’s or landlord’s property.” While the language does not mandate employers to in any way accommodate employees’ marijuana use while on the job, nor does it permit employees to be at work while under the influence, it does limit the ability for an employer to discriminate against those who test positive on either a workplace or a pre-employment drug test. In preparation for this law change, the Maine Department of Labor has removed marijuana from the list of drugs for which an employer may test in its “model” applicant drug-testing policy, according to a January 30 report on the legal website Lexology.com.

Separate provisions permitting adults to possess and grow limited quantities of cannabis took effect early last year after action taken by the legislature.

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After Legalizing Possession, Some Vermont Lawmakers Moving to Regulate Marijuana

MPP Blog - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 14:56

Passage of Vermont’s legalization bill, H. 511, was a huge step forward for the state — and the nation. Now that Gov. Scott has signed this bill allowing personal possession and cultivation, effective on July 1, it’s time for the legislature to begin moving forward with plans to regulate and tax marijuana production and sale for adults 21 and older.

Some legislators who voted NO on H. 511 have already said that they support regulating and taxing marijuana. Others are reconsidering their positions now that it’s clear that marijuana will soon become legal. A bill on this issue, H. 490, is still active in the House after being carried over from last year.

The post After Legalizing Possession, Some Vermont Lawmakers Moving to Regulate Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Thousands Of Californians To Have Their Marijuana Convictions Dismissed

NORML Blog - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 11:43

San Francisco city officials announced plans yesterday to begin reviewing and automatically expunging thousands of past marijuana possession convictions.

The District Attorney’s office says that it will review, dismiss, and seal an estimated 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions dating back to 1975. The office also intends to review and resentence many past felony convictions.

Provisions in the state’s 2016 voter-approved marijuana law allow those with past marijuana convictions to petition the court for expungement. However, because this process that is often time consuming and can cost hundreds of dollars in legal fees, San Francisco’s D.A. George Gascón says that his office will instead “wipe out convictions en masse.”

Commenting on the policy change, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement, “This example, one of many across our state, underscores the true promise of Proposition 64 – providing new hope and opportunities to Californians, primarily people of color, whose lives were long ago derailed by a costly, broken and racially discriminatory system of marijuana criminalization.”

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano concurred, telling reporters: “The stigma associated with a marijuana arrest and criminal conviction is lifelong, and can directly lead to numerous lost opportunities later in life. The San Francisco District Attorney’s office is to be commended for proactively rectifying this situation — one that has disproportionately burdened far too many young people and people of color. Let’s hope other jurisdictions follow San Francisco’s lead in righting the wrongs of cannabis criminalization.”

Perhaps even more importantly, legislation now pending in the California Assembly, AB 1793, seeks to expand this automatic expungement process statewide. If you reside in California, please click here to use NORML’s Action Alert to urge your lawmakers to support this critical legislative effort.

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Maryland Begins Session With Marijuana Policy on the Agenda

MPP Blog - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 14:47

Maryland’s legislative session began earlier this month, and there are several cannabis policy issues already on the agenda. MPP and our allies in the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition are supporting an effort to let the people of Maryland decide whether the state should tax and regulate cannabis for adults.

Unlike many other states, Maryland citizens can’t collect signatures to put an issue on the ballot. In order for the people to vote on an issue, lawmakers must pass a bill that puts a constitutional amendment on the ballot. We hope that Maryland lawmakers will allow voters to put an end to the ineffective, costly, and unfair policy of cannabis prohibition and replace it with a system that allows adults to lawfully consume a substance that is safer than alcohol.

In other news, the legislative black caucus introduced a bill that would license additional businesses that could go to women and minority-owned businesses in light of a disparity study that found these groups were at a disadvantage in the licensing processes. And Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, has introduced bills that would expand Maryland’s decriminalization law, SB 127 and SB 128.

If you are a Maryland resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them you want the chance to vote on legalization this year.

The post Maryland Begins Session With Marijuana Policy on the Agenda appeared first on MPP Blog.

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West Virginia Considering Medical Marijuana Improvements

MPP Blog - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:28

The 2018 legislative session is underway in West Virginia, and several bills have already been introduced to make the medical cannabis program more workable and accessible for patients.

The two most important bills that have been introduced so far are HB 4147 and HB 4149. HB 4147 would require the state to begin issuing ID cards to qualified patients and caregivers in July of this year instead of waiting until July 2019. HB 4149 would allow patients to purchase cannabis flowers from dispensaries, rather than limiting patients to more expensive extracts.

If you are a West Virginia resident, please email your state legislators today and tell them patients can’t afford to wait another year and a half, and that they need access to whole plant cannabis.

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

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Legalizing Marijuana May End the Opioid Crisis, Say Scientists

DrugSense Blog - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 12:28
As we reported previously, scientists from the University of New Mexico have been studying how access to marijuana may help alleviate the opioid crisis, declared a national emergency by President Trump. Their study has now been published in the journal PLOS One, with the researchers concluding that there is “clinically and statistically significant evidence” that […]
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Associations between medical cannabis and prescription opioid use in chronic pain patients

DrugSense Blog - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 10:14
The clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life warrants further investigations on cannabis as a potential alternative to prescription opioids for treating chronic pain. Study: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0187795
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