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Updated: 17 hours 58 min ago

Exercise your civic duty on National Voter Registration Day

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 11:44

Are you ready to legalize marijuana? Registering to vote is the first step. Tomorrow is National Voter Registration Day, and you can help NORML make sure everyone knows voting is an essential part of the fight to end the prohibition. It is crucial that supporters of reform register to vote in time to cast their ballots in the November 6th election.

Are you registered to vote? Check the status of your voter registration here.

Ready to register to vote? You can do so by clicking here.

We need more voices supporting reform in the political process. If our supporters are not registered and voting, lawmakers are will not hear the need for legislative action. Make sure your friends, family, and neighbors are registered to vote.

Share our Voter Registration Tool on Facebook

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As the old adage goes, elections are decided by those who show up. The 2018 midterm elections will be decisive for marijuana reform. NORML is working to bring as many supporters of responsible marijuana policy to the polls as possible. Will our communities voice be heard on November 6?

Let’s finish what we started. Let’s legalize it.

Categories: Blog Feeds

FBI: Marijuana Arrests Spike For Second Straight Year, Far Outpace Arrests For All Violent Crimes

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 09:55

The total number of persons arrested in the United States in 2017 rose for the second consecutive year, according to data released today by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations last year. That total is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrests for the commission of violent crimes (518,617) in 2017.

Of those arrested for marijuana crimes, just under 91 percent (599,000) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses, a slight increase over last year’s annual totals. Total marijuana arrests in 2017 increased for the second straight year, after having fallen for nearly a decade. The uptick comes at a time when ten states, including California, have legalized the adult use of cannabis – leading to a significant decline in marijuana-related arrests in those jurisdictions.

“Actions by law enforcement run counter to both public support and basic morality,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “In a day and age where twenty percent of the population lives in states which have legalized and nearly every state has some legal protections for medical cannabis or its extract, the time for lawmakers to end this senseless and cruel prohibition that ruins lives.”

As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were least likely to occur in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized. By contrast, in Midwestern states, marijuana-related arrests comprised over 53 percent of all drug arrests.

The 2017 FBI report, “Crime in the United States,” is available online here.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 9/21/18

Fri, 09/21/2018 - 09:05

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

This week, reports circulated that  the US Customs and Border Protection Agency will enforce a federal policy denying entry into the United States any individual involved in Canada’s burgeoning marijuana market. Under the policy, US officials are to bar entry to Canadians who acknowledge having consumed marijuana at any time in their past, as well as those who are either employed or invested in legal cannabis enterprises. NORML responded here.

The U.S. Senate’s VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018 got one more cosponsor, for a total of five. And The U.S. House’s Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act got two new cosponsors, for a total of three.

At the state level, the New Jersey Department of Health removed the ban that prohibited licensed medical cannabis dispensaries from selling concentrates to patients. Separately, details arose about New Jersey’s soon-to-be-filed marijuana legalization bill, which includes what would be the lowest tax rate in the country, home delivery, social consumption sites, and provisions benefiting small and minority owned businesses, but nothing about home cultivation. Nothing is final yet.

Several New York Assembly committees have scheduled the first of what will be four joint hearings this fall on the prospect of legalizing marijuana in the Empire State. This comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is holding a series of separate listening sessions across the state to gather public input on cannabis legalization.

Mississippi activists kicked off their signature gathering effort for a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative. Massachusetts recreational marijuana stores are unlikely to open until late October at the earliest after regulators failed to issue any final licenses at its Thursday meeting. Kentucky lawmakers held an interim hearing on medical cannabis, and the West Virginia Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health met to discuss banking access issues for medical cannabis businesses.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres (R) signed a marijuana legalization bill into law, making the territory the first place in the U.S. to end prohibition without first having a medical cannabis program.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed two bills into law this week,  one preventing marijuana businesses from sharing consumers’ information for commercial purposes, and another clarifying that marijuana distributors can transport products to other distributors and that labs can test home-grown cannabis. Brown also vetoed a bill that would have allowed marijuana businesses to deduct business expenses under the state’s personal income tax law.

At a more local level, the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma City Council adopted ordinances regulating medical cannabis businesses.

Following are the bills we’ve tracked this week pending before California Governor Jerry Brown, 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

Decriminalize Cannabis: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is sponsoring the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

Click here to email your senators in support of this important legislation

California

Assembly Bill 1793 seeks to 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. The bill was approved by the Senate last week.

Update: AB 1793 awaits action from Governor Brown.

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

Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on school grounds to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.

Update: After failing to gain enough votes for passage in the Assembly on 8/23, a motion to reconsider was granted and on 8/27, SB 1127 was approved by the Assembly with a 42-29 vote. The bill now awaits action from Governor Brown.

CA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of allowing students’ medical marijuana at school

Senate Bill 829 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

Update: SB 829 was approved by the full Assembly with a 65-2 vote on 8/29. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence since it was amended in the Assembly. SB 829 is being heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Friday 8/31, and then will go to the Senate floor for a vote.

CA resident? Email your senators in support of supporting compassionate care programs

That’s all for this week!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Marijuana Law Reform Advocates Head to Harrisburg

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 14:25

With a state legislative session spanning almost an entire calendar year, supporters of marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania are working overtime to make sure their voices are heard. That’s why members of Lehigh Valley NORML, Pittsburgh NORML, Lancaster NORML and Philly NORML are teaming up with the Keystone Cannabis Coalition and ACLU of Pennsylvania for rally and lobby day next week in the state’s capital of Harrisburg.

Click Here to RSVP Today!

“Marijuana activists in Pennsylvania are poised to introduce an aggressive agenda for reform in 2019 when they fill the Capitol Rotunda at 10am on Monday, September 24,” said Jeff Riedy, Executive Director of Lehigh Valley NORML. “With cannabis arrest counts rising across the state and neighboring states threatening legalization, the time is right for this discussion in Pennsylvania.”

But activists in the Keystone State have come a very long way in just a short amount of time.

Local Victories

In late 2014 Philadelphia’s city council decriminalized simple possession of marijuana. Little did they know, their decision would trigger a wave of municipalities across the Commonwealth to adopt similar measures. In the years following, local lawmakers in Pittsburgh, State College, Harrisburg, York, Erie, and most recently, Bethlehem followed suit.

These local victories were celebrated not just by advocates, but also the Commonwealth’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who shared the following statement:

“Decriminalization saves millions of dollars spent yearly on marijuana prosecutions. Decriminalization also has human benefits by reducing the loss of income and other social, personal and emotional impacts on those arrested for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana.”

Full statement here: https://bit.ly/2NvfopR

Statewide Victories

Following the flurry of local marijuana law reform victories across the Commonwealth, lawmakers in Harrisburg passed SB 3: The Medical Marijuana Act in 2015 which was later signed into law by Governor Wolf in early 2016. Passage of the law established rules and regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program which permits registered patients to access cannabis oils, pills and tinctures, but due to a restriction against smoking, the availability of marijuana flower was delayed.

After months of pressure from patients and advocacy groups, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana advisory board recommended several updates to the state’s program. One of which, was allowing the sale of marijuana flower. The catch? It must be consumed using a vaporizer. This means no smoking. Regardless of a few hiccups, dispensaries began serving patients earlier this year.

Looking ahead, advocates are hoping to educate state lawmakers about the benefits of ending the criminalization and harassment of honest, hardworking Pennsylvanians for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana.

“New legislation will be introduced at the rally, as 2019 will mark the first time that PA will have partner bills for decriminalization and legalization in both House and Senate. If Pennsylvanians could vote on cannabis legalization in November, I am confident that we would win,” added Riedy.

Midterm Election

Considering Pennsylvania is one of several states that lacks a ballot initiative process, all marijuana law reform efforts must be pursued through the state legislature. This means, in order to be successful, advocates must educate those who are willing to listen or elect new, more supportive lawmakers to represent them in Harrisburg. So make no mistake, the outcome of this November’s election will certainly have an impact on the future of marijuana in the Keystone State.  

Register To Vote Today!

That’s why we’re encouraging voters in Pennsylvania to support Jon Fetterman, an outspoken supporter of legalizing marijuana, who is running for Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Fetterman was the very first candidate endorsed by NORML PAC for the 2018 midterm elections.

Read more about our endorsement here: https://bit.ly/2OMBjoM

For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania, follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Twitter and Facebook!

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NORML Endorses Utah’s Proposition 2

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 08:03

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) endorses Proposition 2: The Utah Medical Cannabis Act, which regulates the licensed production and distribution of medical cannabis products to qualified patients who possess a physician’s recommendation.

Seventy-seven percent of adults express support for the law change, according to statewide polling data compiled in March.

“Proposition 2 is the result of years of intransigence on the part of Utah politicians who have time and time again refused to move forward with legislation to provide regulated cannabis access to the array of patients who could benefit from it,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said.

Under legislation enacted by the legislature in 2018, only those patients who are terminally ill may potentially access cannabis-infused products. To date, however, such products are not yet legally available.

“Passage of Proposition 2 will assure that those patients with qualified debilitating conditions who need medical cannabis have access to lab-tested products via a tightly regulated system of licensed, above-ground state-licensed facilities,” Strekal added.

If enacted by voters this November, Utah would become the 32nd state to permit patients’ access to medical cannabis.

Categories: Blog Feeds

NORML Responds to US Border Policy Barring Canadians Involved In Legal Marijuana Market

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 14:24

NORML staff today responded to reports that the US Customs and Border Protection Agency will enforce a federal policy denying entry into the United States any individual involved Canada’s burgeoning marijuana market. Under the policy, US officials are to bar entry to Canadians who acknowledge having consumed marijuana at any time in their past, as well as those who are either employed or invested in legal cannabis enterprises.

Canada legalized the regulated production and distribution of medical cannabis in 2,000. In June of this year, Canadian lawmakers gave final approval to separate legislation regulating the adult use marijuana market. The new law takes effect on October 17, 2018.

“This is an irrational and discriminatory policy that unduly penalizes tens of thousands of Canadians who pose no health or safety risk to the United States. Let’s be clear: these are people engaged in activity that is legal in their home country of Canada — and it is activity that is also legally regulated in a majority of US states,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Further, to inappropriately classify those who are either employed or simply have invested in the Canadian cannabis industry, an industry that has been legal in Canada for well over a decade already, as drug traffickers fails to pass the smell test.”

He added, “At a time when public opinion and the culture around marijuana is rapidly shifting, not just in the US but around the world, it is inane for US border officials to maintain such a draconian and backward-looking policy.”

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 9/14/18

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 12:11

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

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved legislation (HR 5634: The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018) to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials assessing the efficacy of whole-plant cannabis. The vote marks the first time that lawmakers have ever decided in favor of easing existing federal restrictions which limit investigators ability to clinically study marijuana in a manner similar to other controlled substances.

On the other hand, a congressional conference committee opted not to include a Senate-passed provision in a bill to fund the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The measure is known as the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, which sought to facilitate veterans’ access to medical cannabis in jurisdictions that regulate it.

Also, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of Congress’s more ardent drug warriors—signed on as a cosponsor of the STATES Act, to remove the threat of federal intervention and prosecution in states that regulate marijuana use and sales.

At the state level, New Mexico’s health secretary approved adding obstructive sleep apnea as a medical cannabis qualifying condition, but rejected adding opioid addiction, muscular dystrophy, Tourette’s syndrome, eczema and psoriasis. Separately, regulators are holding a series of public meeting next month to receive feedback on proposed hemp rules.

Vermont’s marijuana legalization study committee held a meeting. And California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill prohibiting the marketing of cannabis products on websites used by minors.

At a more local level, Brooklyn, New York’s district attorney is moving to expunge thousands of marijuana convictions. And Manhattan’s district attorney is moving to vacate misdemeanor marijuana warrants. He appeared in court to move to dismiss 3,000 marijuana cases dating back to 1978.

The Lancaster, Pennsylvania City Council amended a proposed marijuana penalty reduction ordinance, with a final vote expected later this month. The Green Bay, Wisconsin Common Council is considering lowering fines for marijuana possession. And Oklahoma City, Oklahoma’s City Council heard testimony on a proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance.

Following are the bills we’ve tracked this week pending before California Governor Jerry Brown, 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

Decriminalize Cannabis: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is sponsoring the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

Click here to email your senators in support of this important legislation

California

Assembly Bill 1793 seeks to 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. The bill was approved by the Senate last week.

Update: AB 1793 awaits action from Governor Brown.

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

Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on school grounds to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.

Update: After failing to gain enough votes for passage in the Assembly on 8/23, a motion to reconsider was granted and on 8/27, SB 1127 was approved by the Assembly with a 42-29 vote. The bill now awaits action from Governor Brown.

CA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of allowing students’ medical marijuana at school

Senate Bill 829 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

Update: SB 829 was approved by the full Assembly with a 65-2 vote on 8/29. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence since it was amended in the Assembly. SB 829 is being heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Friday 8/31, and then will go to the Senate floor for a vote.

CA resident? Email your senators in support of supporting compassionate care programs

That’s all for this week!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Justice for Botham: Law Enforcement and Media Attempt to Slander Murder Victim Over Marijuana

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 11:47

After the murder of Botham Jean by Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger, in his own home, some, but not all, of the search warrants that were executed were released to public record. One of which, that was released the same day as Botham Jean’s funeral, listed a small amount of marijuana among the items found in Jean’s apartment.

Commenting on the developments, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated:

“The release of a Dallas police affidavit into the public record regarding marijuana found in Botham Jean’s apartment is nothing more than an attempt by law enforcement and the media to posthumously criminalize and cast aspersions on a man who by all accounts is guilty of nothing other than sitting quietly in his own home. Over half of all Americans have consumed marijuana at some point in their lives and to pretend in any way the possession of a plant that is objectively safer than alcohol or tobacco provides legitimacy to his extrajudicial execution is disgusting and egregious. Whether or not the victim possessed marijuana is irrelevant to the case and a sad attempt to slander an otherwise innocent person. Botham Jean and his family need and deserve justice, not a pathetic attempt at a smear campaign.”

You can read more about this developing situation here and here.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Kentucky NORML Newsletter for September 2018

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 07:37

State News:

On Sept. 7th, 2018, the Interim Joint Judiciary Committee held a meeting to discuss medical marijuana and the bill being proposed by Rep. Nemes (R-), Rep. St. Onge (R-), Rep. Hart (R-) and Rep Sims (D-). They discussed their bill and invited Louisville resident Cassie Everett and her family to speak at the event. Link to article Link

Kentucky Farmers Find Hemp More Profitable Than Tobacco. Link to article

McLean Businessman Among State-Approved Cannabis Growers Link to article

Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, presents information on proposed legislation on medical marijuana for the 2019 Regular Session of the General Assembly during the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations. Link to article

National News:

A Rare Moment of Bi-Partisan Agreement is Underway for Sen. McConnell Sponsored “Hemp Farming Act” (Link to article).

Upcoming Events:

September 14th – Licensing, Occupations, & Administrative Regulations – 10 am – The Capitol, Frankfort, KY

September 18th – KY NORML General Meeting –  One Love Hemp Dispensary, 1908 Bardstown Rd., Louisville, KY 40205. Meeting from 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM.Ice Cream Social Put on by Cozmic Gardens from 5 PM – 6:30 PM. 20% of all sales at One Love Hemp Dispensary from 5PM-Close (8 PM) go to benefit KY NORML.

October 5th – Commemorating the Victims of Prohibition – On October 2nd, 1937, the United States enacted the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act which effectively outlawed cannabis. Three days later, on October 5th, the FBI and the Denver police raided the Lexington Hotel and arrested Samuel R. Caldwell and Moses Baca. Caldwell and Bacca are recognized as the first citizens convicted of selling and possessing cannabis. Both men served the entirety of their sentences, with Caldwell dying shortly after his release from four years of hard labor.

October 18th – Economic Development and Workforce Transportation – 10 AM, Lexington, KY (more info to come)

October 25th – Appropriations and Revenue Committee Meeting – 1 PM, Northern Kentucky (more info to come)

KY NORML‘s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to influence legislators for the expansion of our hemp industry, implementation of medicinal cannabis, and laying the foundation for responsible adult use.

To support KY NORML you can DONATE HERE or purchase some of our apparel below! Your donations help pay the bills and allow us to function and continue to make a difference in our state! Can you kick in $5$10 or $20 to help us keep going?

Categories: Blog Feeds

Congressional Committee Approves Legislation To Facilitate Clinical Cannabis Research

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 11:10

Members of the House Judiciary Committee voted today in favor of legislation (HR 5634: The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018) to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials assessing the efficacy of whole-plant cannabis. The vote marks the first time that lawmakers have ever decided in favor of easing existing federal restrictions which limit investigators ability to clinically study marijuana in a manner similar to other controlled substances.

“The federal hurdles in place that currently discourage clinicians from engaging in clinical cannabis research have long been onerous and irrational,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “It is high time that lawmakers recognize this problem and take action to amend it so that investigators may conduct the same sort of high-quality clinical research with cannabis that they do with other substances.”

Currently, federal regulations mandate that investigators participating in FDA-approved clinical trials involving cannabis must obtain marijuana from a single, federally-licensed source, the University of Mississippi. However, many of those familiar with their product have criticized its quality, opining that it possesses subpar potency, is often poorly manicured, and that it does not accurately reflect the wide variety of cannabis products and strains available to consumers.

As the result of a lawsuit, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner in 2007 ruled that expanding the pool of federally licensed providers would be “in the public interest.” The agency ultimately rejected that decision. In 2016, the DEA publicly changed its stance and amended regulations in a manner to permit additional applicants to apply for federal licensure to grow marijuana. However, the United States Attorney General’s office has failed to take action on any pending 25 applications submitted following the 2016 rule change.

House Bill 6534, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and 40 cosponsors mandates the Attorney General to take action on these pending federal applications, and to approve at least two additional marijuana manufacturers within a year. The measure also explicitly permits the Veterans Affairs office to engage in clinical trials involving the cannabis plant.

While some Democrats on the Committee, as well as some drug policy reform organizations, expressed criticism with regard to a provision in the bill restricting applicants with a drug-related conviction, lawmakers indicated that they would consider revising this language prior to the bill receiving a vote on the House floor.

Armentano concluded: “While this vote marks a step forward, it must also be acknowledged that despite existing barriers to research, ample studies already exist to contradict cannabis’ federal, schedule I status as a substance without medical utility, lacking acceptable safety, and possessing a high potential of abuse. More clinical research is welcome, but unfortunately science has never driven marijuana policy. If it did, the United States would already have a very different policy in place.”

Categories: Blog Feeds

NORML Endorses Michigan’s Proposal 1

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 10:12

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is pleased to endorse Proposal 1: The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which will appear on November’s electoral ballot.

The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

“NORML endorses Proposal 1 because it will bring an end to the criminal arrest and prosecution of tens of thousands of adults annually, while generating new economic and tax revenue for the state of Michigan,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Voters in recent years have consistently voted ‘yes’ on these types of adult use ballot measures, and we believe that Michigan’s voters will similar embrace this common-sense proposal.”

Over 56 percent of likely voters say they back the passage of Proposal 1, according to polling data released this week by The Detroit News. Among voters between the ages of 18 and 39, over 70 percent support the ballot initiative.

If enacted by voters this November, Michigan will become the tenth US state to regulate adult marijuana use.

Proponents of the effort, The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, include members of Michigan NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association MI Legalize, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, and lawyers from the State Bar of Michigan Marijuana Law Section.

Commenting on the endorsement, Rick Thompson of the Michigan NORML Board of Directors stated, “The people of Michigan have waited a long time and suffered for decades as cannabis was criminalized. By bringing an end to that sad chapter in our state’s history, we hope to be an inspiration to cannabis advocates in other states, and that our Coalition’s language is used as the new starting point for legalization proposals across America.”

Categories: Blog Feeds

NORML Chapters Focus on Voter Registration and Education

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 03:31

As the summer months come to a close and as political campaigns around the country ramp up outreach efforts, NORML chapters are working to make sure that supporters of marijuana law reform efforts are registered to vote. Through our partnership with Rock the Vote, we’ve made it quick and easy for our members and supporters to make sure their voices are heard this November. This is especially important in states like Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota and Utah — where marijuana law reform initiatives will appear on ballot this November.

Register to Vote Today!

Share our Voter Registration Tool on Facebook

Share our Voter Registration Tool on Twitter

From hosting voter registration drives, and voting parties, to providing education about voting laws and the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition, NORML Chapters will be busy engaging voters and mobilizing supporters in advance of this November’s election.

“With Missouri’s voter registration deadline quickly approaching, it’s important for supporters of Amendment 2 to make sure they’re registered to vote. Historically, marijuana ballot initiatives perform better when younger people vote. Voter turnout will absolutely be a factor in the outcome of this November’s election,” said Jamie Kacz, Secretary of Missouri NORML.

Also, to help educate our members and supporters about candidates who are supportive of marijuana law reform efforts, NORML is working with “Smoke the Vote” to create state-level and congressional scorecards, similar to our Governor Scorecard, that outlines each candidate’s marijuana policy positions. The final version will be available within the next few days. Furthermore, several NORML chapters, like Arizona NORML and Texas NORML, have created their own regional voter guides for the 2018 midterm elections!

“Texans rely on elected officials to change marijuana laws,” added Jax Finkle, executive director of Texas NORML. “This is why registering to vote and getting to the ballot box is so important. With several key races polling only points apart, it is integral you know where legislators stand on the issue. Stay tuned for our General Election Voter Guide coming out at the beginning of October.”

Below are a few more resources that should come in handy over the next couple of months.

Resources and Tools for Voter Registration:

Additional Resources:

Register to Vote Today!

Share our Voter Registration Tool on Facebook

Share our Voter Registration Tool on Twitter

For over 45 years NORML chapters have been leading marijuana law reform conversations and continue to be the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please reach out to KevinM@NORML.org for help starting your own!

Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Congressional Leadership Strips Provisions Facilitating Medical Marijuana Access For Veterans

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 08:57

Lawmakers have removed language from pending federal legislation that sought to facilitate veterans’ access to medical cannabis in jurisdictions that regulate it.

The decision to strip out the Veterans Equal Access Amendment flies in the face of the horrific medical realities that our nation’s heroes who are desperate to mitigate. This move thwarts the will of the majority of Americans who support medical marijuana and 81% of veterans who believe that the federal government should protect its therapeutic access. Further, by not creating protections for veterans, the Congress continues to view 22% of those who have worn the uniform as criminals.

Under existing federal regulations, physicians affiliated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs are prohibited from filling out the necessary paperwork required in legal medical marijuana states. A budgetary amendment included in the Senate’s version the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill sought to end this prohibition. However, Congressional leaders this week elected to eliminate the provision during hearings to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the appropriations bill.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer, the author of similar legislative language now pending in the House of Representatives, said “Denying veterans the care they need by the doctors they trust is shameful. The Senate passed this amendment. It has broad bipartisan support in the House. This should have been a no brainer. Yet, Republican leadership has once again stymied progress toward fair and equal treatment for our veterans. Their continued neglect of commonsense and the will of the American people is a disgrace.”

Veteran and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, “Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country, and many come home dealing with visible and invisible wounds. To continue limiting their access to quality healthcare through the VA is a disservice to them and the sacrifices they’ve made.”

The Veterans Cannabis Coalition released a statement saying “Every day that cannabis prohibition continues is a day a veteran dies unnecessarily. The Republican conferees on the House Appropriations Committee and House Republican leadership should be ashamed of this backroom deal that stripped the Veterans Equal Access amendment from this year’s MILCON-VA appropriations bill. This decision of Republican leaders flies in the face of science, compassion, and overwhelming public support. The Republican conference has steadfastly voted to send millions of other people’s sons and daughters to fight in endless wars while fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent the study of something that provides relief and healing to those injured in military service. Leadership can’t claim to care about veterans health and well-being while refusing to even discuss cannabis. Enough hypocrisy. We call on House Republicans to listen to the literally tens of thousands of veterans who have benefited from cannabis access, negotiate in good faith, and allow votes to take place.”

“This move by Congressional leadership is egregious and constitutes a slap in the face to the heroes who put their lives on the line to defend our country,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. “Continuing to treat veterans who risked it all as criminals when they opt to utilize a safe and effective treatment option like cannabis is immoral and un-American.”

Similar language was included by both chambers in the 2016 version of the funding bill, but was similarly stripped from the text in conference committee.

Last week, Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) for the first time introduced stand-alone Senate legislation to expand medical cannabis access to military veterans. A recent American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

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NORML PAC Announces New Slate of Congressional Endorsements

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 07:26

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML PAC) has announced their most recent slate of bi-partisan reelection endorsements for incumbent members of the United States House of Representatives.

“There was more momentum behind federal marijuana law reform in 2018 than in any previous year, and that is in no small part due to some of our longstanding, outspoken allies in Congress,” stated NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “In order to finally cross the finish line and end our failed federal prohibition on marijuana, it is important that we not just vote out reefer mad prohibitionists, but we need to support and ensure our key allies remain in office. Their seniority and passion for the issue makes them true leaders in taking our country in a new and sensible direction on marijuana policy and with their help we will finally resolve the tensions between state and federal laws regarding marijuana. We encourage voters in their districts to support them in November and ensure they serve in Washington another two years to help us finish the fight.”

The newly announced endorsements are listed below.

Republican Endorsements: Rep. David Joyce (R-OH14), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI3), Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA2) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC3).

Democratic Endorsements: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN9), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI2), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA33), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA17), and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA2).

Of the lead sponsors of NORML’s priority legislation, NORML PAC Director Erik Altieri released the following statements:

On the Marijuana Justice Act, HR 4815 introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee…

“We are exceptionally pleased to endorse Representative Barbara Lee, the lead sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would not only end federal marijuana prohibition, but also penalize states that maintain the unjust and disproportionate targeting of minority communities as a result of state-level criminalization,”

“Rep. Lee has been a long time champion of reform. She has been instrumental to the recent explosion of support at the federal level and is a tremendous advocate for her constituents.”

On the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, HR 1227 introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard…

“We are happy to endorse Representative Tulsi Gabbard, the lead sponsor of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would end the failed national policy of cannabis prohibition.”

“Rep. Gabbard is never afraid to speak truth to power and has been one of the most sensible voices in the Congress on improving public policy.”

On the States Act, HR 6043 introduced by Rep. David Joyce…

“We are pleased to endorse Representative David Joyce, the lead Republican sponsor of the States Act, which would create an exemption in the Controlled Substances Act to end the threat of federal interference with state-legal marijuana programs.”

“Rep. Joyce has quickly become the leading Republican in the House of Representatives to address the federal-state policy tensions and has served as a sensible advocate for his constituents.”

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Marijuana Censorship: A Byproduct of Prohibition

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 09:41

As more and more states decide to legalize and regulate marijuana, businesses outside of America’s new billion dollar marijuana industry around the country are doing their best to navigate the murky waters of entering into partnerships with state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

Some are responding by adopting new company policies more considerate of state laws that grant marijuana-related businesses the freedom to engage in activities that are still prohibited by the federal government (e.g., sale and distribution of marijuana). On the other hand, some of the largest and most well-known social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have decided to steer clear of the issue all together. Instead of evolving like the majority of the American public, where more than 68% support the legalization of adult-use marijuana, they appear to be aggressively suspending social media accounts of marijuana-related businesses while offering little to no explanation as to why.

Without question, companies, regardless of their products or services, need a strong presence on social media to compete, and ultimately survive in today’s digitized marketplace, but social media accounts of state-sanctioned, legal marijuana businesses are routinely being shut down without warning, and frankly without just cause. This is a devastating blow to companies that have invested time, money and energy into building robust following of tens of thousands of dedicated supporters and potential customers.

Considering the restrictions against marijuana-related activities outlined in the “Terms of Use” and/or “User Agreement” adopted by most popular social media platforms are based on the fact that marijuana is federally illegal and categorized as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, the problems companies like Natural Remedies and Dixie Elixirs are currently experiencing can only be solved by Congress.

That’s why I believe the focus should be on ending the federal prohibition of marijuana by encouraging members of Congress to pass HR 1227: The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, S.3174: The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, or S.1689/HR 4815 The Marijuana Justice Act. Not only would marijuana-related companies be able to promote their events and market products on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms, it will end the harassment, arrest, and incarceration of marijuana patients and consumers, not to mention all of the collateral consequences related to a marijuana charge (e.g. employment and housing discrimination).

I’m in no way trying to minimize the challenges with censorship that business owners operating in the marijuana industry are facing, but merely trying to redirect focus to the root of the problem. Currently there are numerous business-centric marijuana law reform bills being considered by Congress, and while NORML’s focus continues to be on ending marijuana prohibition and being a voice for marijuana consumers, we are generally supportive of these efforts.

We at NORML understand and appreciate how marijuana consumers benefit when a company has access to basic banking services such as checking accounts, small business loans and merchant services. We understand that without a stable and predictable environment where businesses can thrive, consumers will be the ones to suffer at the end of the day.

I’ve highlighted a few business-centric marijuana law reform bills that NORML has created action alerts for below:

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act: http://norml.org/action-center/item/support-the-secure-and-fair-enforcement-banking-act-safe-banking-act

The Small Business Tax Equity Act: http://norml.org/action-center/item/federal-legislation-pending-to-cease-penalizing-state-compliant-marijuana-businesses-under-the-federal-tax-code

The States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act: http://norml.org/action-center/item/federal-legislation-pending-to-halt-forfeiture-actions-against-marijuana-facilities

The State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance Enforcement Act: http://norml.org/action-center/item/federal-support-the-state-marijuana-and-regulatory-tolerance-smart-enforcement-act

For a comprehensive list please visit NORML’s Action Center.

As a nonprofit organization that’s focused on the larger goal of ending federal marijuana prohibition, we also promote business-centric marijuana law reforms to our members and supporters. If your business would like to support our efforts, please consider becoming a sponsor today!

“Businesses can do well by doing good, when they join the fight to end prohibition,” says NORML’s development director, Jenn Michelle Pedini. “NORML’s grassroots includes tens of thousands of reform-savvy consumers, and businesses gain exclusive access to that network when they stand alongside them and fight for freedom.”

Whether you’re a longtime business owner or new to the marijuana industry, we’ll recognize your company on our website and social media for supporting NORML’s longstanding mission of reforming marijuana laws in our country.

For more information about becoming a NORML Sponsor click here!

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New York: Brooklyn DA Intends To Vacate Thousands Of Past Marijuana Convictions

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 14:00

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez at a press conference today announced his intent to vacate over ten thousand low-level marijuana convictions.

Though state lawmakers decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses in 1977, possessing small amounts of cannabis “in public view” remains a criminal misdemeanor. City police have made several hundred thousand arrests since the late 1990s for violation of the ‘public use’ statute – primarily due to aggressive ‘stop and frisk’ policing. Over 80 percent of those arrested were either Black or Latino.

Under the DA’s newly announced initiative, those with low-level convictions will be eligible to have their criminal records vacated beginning September 21. Prosecutors estimate that the effort may ultimately result in the expungement of some 20,000 past convictions.

Earlier this year, DA Gonzalez, along with Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. declared that their offices would no longer prosecute low-level marijuana offenses. “It’s a little unfair to say we’re no longer prosecuting these cases, but to have these folks carry these convictions for the rest of their lives,” Gonzalez told The Associated Press .

In recent months, District Attorneys in a number of metropolitan areas, such as San Francisco and Seattle, have begun the process of reviewing and vacating past, low-level marijuana convictions. Lawmakers in several states – including Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, and Rhode Island – have enacted expungement laws following the passage of either marijuana decriminalization or legalization. In California, legislation providing for mandatory expungement of past marijuana convictions is awaiting the Governor’s signature. An estimated 220,000 cases would be eligible for erasure or a reduction under the proposed California law.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 9/7/18

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 13:32

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

U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced legislation this week, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions. The measure would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue recommendations and require the VA to research the benefits of marijuana. Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of the new bill. 

Four U.S. House bills got new cosponsors this week, including the Marijuana Justice Act, bringing the total to 40 cosponsors, the Veterans Equal Access Act for a total of 28, the States Act, bringing the total to 29, and the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act for a total of 11.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pushed for hemp legalization during the first Farm Bill conference committee meeting. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) also spoke in support.

At the state level, Mississippi activists will begin collecting signatures next week for a proposed 2020 medical cannabis ballot measure. California lawmakers approved legislation to create a grant program to support municipal marijuana industry equity programs, to allow tax-free donations of medical cannabis to patients and to allow provisional licensing for marijuana businesses.

At a more local level, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania City Council is considering a marijuana decriminalization proposal. So was the Gary, Indiana Common Council before the measure was narrowly defeated. A Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin committee approved a marijuana legalization advisory question for the Spring 2019 ballot. And the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Council will consider a proposal to lower marijuana penalties next week that is also supported by the police chief.

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

Decriminalize Cannabis: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is sponsoring the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

Click here to email your senators in support of this important legislation

California

Assembly Bill 1793 seeks to 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. The bill was approved by the Senate last week.

Update: AB 1793 awaits action from Governor Brown.

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

Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on school grounds to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.

Update: After failing to gain enough votes for passage in the Assembly on 8/23, a motion to reconsider was granted and on 8/27, SB 1127 was approved by the Assembly with a 42-29 vote. The bill now awaits action from Governor Brown.

CA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of allowing students’ medical marijuana at school

Senate Bill 829 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

Update: SB 829 was approved by the full Assembly with a 65-2 vote on 8/29. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence since it was amended in the Assembly. SB 829 is being heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Friday 8/31, and then will go to the Senate floor for a vote.

CA resident? Email your senators in support of supporting compassionate care programs

That’s all for this week!

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Register to Vote to Support Marijuana Law Reforms this November

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 06:35

 

Yesterday morning Jeff Mizanskey registered to vote! For the first time in 24 years, after his release from parole late last week, Jeff Mizanskey, an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Air Force, is eligible to vote again.

Click Here to Register to Vote Today!

Jeff was arrested in 1993 and sent to prison in 1994 for the very brief possession of a few pounds of marijuana.  He did not own the marijuana.  He did not possess the marijuana for more than a few minutes, but that was caught on camera and was sufficient for the jury to find him guilty.  Because of his two prior very small marijuana felony convictions, his only other criminal convictions in his life, Jeff was sentenced to the maximum term of life in prison, without possibility of probation or parole, as a “prior and persistent drug offender”.  Due in part to the efforts of Missouri NORML, the “prior and persistent drug offender” law has since been repealed.

After serving more than 21 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, thanks to the efforts of Missouri NORML Chapters, Show-Me Cannabis and others, Governor Jay Nixon was persuaded to grant Jeff a commutation of his sentence which made him eligible for parole.  I then represented Jeff in his successful effort to obtain parole.

Click Here to Register to Vote Today!

Normally, defendants are on parole for the remainder of their sentence.  Therefore, Jeff could have been on parole for the rest of his life.  However, parolees can request release from parole after three years.  Jeff was released from prison three years ago this week.  We expected having to go to court to seek his release from parole.  We were very pleased, however, that the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole chose to terminate his parole late last week!

Missouri NORML issued a press release about the fact that Jeff was going to go to the office of the Pettis County Clerk in Sedalia this morning to register.  The response was very gratifying.

Jeff was interviewed urging everyone to register and vote by the Mid-Missouri ABC and NBC television affiliates, as well as by local newspaper and radio stations. Read more from KSIS Radio!

October 10, 2018 is the deadline to register to vote in the November 6 election where Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative endorsed by NORML, is on Missouri’s statewide ballot. So please make sure you register to vote today!

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First Ever Veterans-Focused Medical Bill Introduced In Senate

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:42

Washington, DC: Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced legislation, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions.

Under existing regulations, VA doctors are not permitted to fill out the mandatory paperwork necessary to recommend cannabis therapy in those 31 states that regulate it. Passage of The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act ends this discrimination against veterans and prevents sanctions against VA doctors who wish to recommend medical cannabis treatment to their patients.

Send a message in support of expanding access NOW!

“The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would provide crucial medical and civil protections for the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve this country. It is unconscionable that these brave individuals who protect our nation’s freedoms would be treated as criminals when they return home just for treating their medical ailments with a safe and effective option,” said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. “We applaud and appreciate the leadership by Senators Schatz and Nelson in putting forward this legislation.”

“Historically, veteran and military communities have long been at the forefront of American social change, catalyzing the widespread acceptance of evolving cultural norms and perceptions surrounding racial, gender, and sexual equality. The therapeutic use of cannabis by veterans follows this trend and members of Congress should follow their lead and pass the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act,” Strekal concluded.

“Federal law prohibits VA doctors from prescribing or recommending medical marijuana to veterans,” said Senator Bill Nelson. “This legislation will allow veterans in Florida and elsewhere the same access to legitimately prescribed medication, just as any other patient in those 31 states would have.”

“In the 31 states where medical marijuana is legal, patients and doctors are able to see if marijuana helps with pain management. Our veterans deserve to have that same chance,” Senator Schatz said. “This bill does right by our veterans, and it can also shed light on how medical marijuana can help with the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

You can read NORML’s Fact Sheet on Marijuana and Veterans Issues HERE.

A recent American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition. A 2017 review of over 10,000 studies by the National Academy of Sciences concluded, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective for the treatment for chronic pain in adults.”

Similar legislation, The Veterans Equal Access Act (HR 1820) is pending in the House.

Send a message in support of expanding access NOW!

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NORML Endorses Missouri’s Amendment 2

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 09:08

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is pleased to endorse Missouri’s Amendment 2, which permits patients, at the discretion of a physician, to obtain cannabis and cannabis-infused products from licensed facilities.

The amendment is one of three competing ballot measures that seek to regulate medical cannabis use in Missouri. Of the three, NORML believes that Amendment 2 is written in a manner that best provides for the needs of patients and their physicians, and is the measure most likely to withstand scrutiny from lawmakers.

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“This is a patient-centered proposal that puts power in the hands of state-licensed physicians and their patients, not politicians or bureaucrats. Passage of Amendment 2 will create a robust statewide system for production and sale of medical cannabis,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Of the three proposals on the ballot this fall, we believe that Amendment 2 is the clear choice for voters.”

“The Amendment 2 campaign appreciates NORML’s endorsement, as well as many others we have received, including from the Missouri Epilepsy Foundation and Senator Claire McCaskill,” said Dan Viets, Board President of New Approach Missouri – the grassroots group that is sponsoring Amendment 2, and a member of NORML’s Board of Directors.

If passed by voters this fall, Missouri would become the 32nd state to legalize and regulate patients’ access to medical marijuana.

Follow New Approach Missouri on: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Please consider making a contribution to support Question 2 by clicking here. 

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