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Updated: 20 hours 53 min ago

Massachusetts Marijuana Sales Begin; Rep. Joe Kennedy Supports Legalization

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 10:23

Citizens of the Bay State have much to be thankful for this week.

On November 20th, just two days before Thanksgiving, adults over the age of 21 were able to legally purchase marijuana in the state of Massachusetts for the first time in over a century.

Massachusetts was the first state to enact marijuana prohibition — doing so on April 29th, 1911. Voters decided in favor of repealing the ban in November 2016.

“This signal to open retail marijuana establishments marks a major milestone for voters who approved legal, adult-use cannabis in our state,” Commission Chairman Steven J. Hoffman told Cannabis Now. “To get here, licensees underwent thorough background checks, passed multiple inspections and had their products tested, all to ensure public health and safety as this new industry gets up and running. As patrons look forward to visiting Massachusetts stores, we hope they will do their part by first familiarizing themselves with the law and understanding what is required of responsible consumers.”

On the very same day, Representative Joe Kennedy III — who had historically been one of Congress’ leading marijuana prohibitionist — published an op-ed documenting his evolution of thinking when it comes to cannabis and announcing his new position of supporting reform.

Kennedy writes, “Given the rapid pace of state-level legalization and liberalization, I believe we must implement strong, clear, and fair federal guidelines. To do that requires us to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and legalize it at the federal level.”

Categories: Blog Feeds

Happy Thanksgiving from the NORML family

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 13:18

We have much to be thankful for this year. Lawmakers in 22 states have passed legislation to advance cannabis reform, Vermont became the first state to end marijuana prohibition legislatively, the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth became the first US territory to pass a regulated marijuana marketplace, and four states approved voter-initiated ballot measures that legalized adult use (Michigan) and medical marijuana (Oklahoma, Utah, and Missouri).

Additionally, polling data continues to show improved gains in public support for legalization nationwide, with most recent polls revealing that majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents support ending our failed prohibition.

This progress did not come out of nowhere, nor did it come overnight. Our successes are a result of years of diligent organizing and difficult conversations with our fellow citizens about the role of government, law enforcement, and civil liberties in our daily lives.

We need to make sure that we take every opportunity available to further advance the cannabis conversation. The upcoming holidays provide an ideal venue for these conversations.

Look, we know that political arguments are going to happen at the Thanksgiving dinner table, so why not make it about marijuana? While many Americans disagree about other key issues facing our country, there is so much common ground between those who identify as conservatives, liberals, independents, and everyone in-between when it comes to marijuana policy.

So use us as a resource – NORML.org has Factsheets, Talking Points, and you can even pass your phone or computer around the table to have your friends and family contact their lawmakers right then and there to support reform in our Action Center.

Having these conversations about the scope of the government’s right to stop, search, and incarcerate individuals for possessing a plant that is objectively safer than alcohol and tobacco can be tough, but it’s a hell of a lot more fun than hearing the same story for the millionth time from your cousin or the ranting of your whacky uncle (you know who we’re talking about, but he probably wants to legalize cannabis too).

Since our founding in 1970, NORML has worked to provide a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting marijuana consumers. We rely on thousands of individuals to fund our movement to continue our critical work. Sign up to be a sustaining supporter or make a one-time Thanksgiving gift to continue our march to progress.

Together, we’re going to make 2019 the best year yet for reform. To make that a reality, we need you to use your voice at the dinner table this week.

Gratefully,

The NORML Family

Categories: Blog Feeds

Missouri’s Largest County Stops Prosecuting Marijuana Possession

Fri, 11/16/2018 - 20:32

 

Two years after suing to keep medical marijuana off the ballot, on Tuesday, Jean Peters Baker, the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney, announced that her office will stop prosecuting most marijuana possession cases. In June of this year, the St. Louis City Prosecuting Attorney, Kim Gardner, took similar action on simple possession cases of up to 100 grams.

This development follows the November 6 landslide victory of Amendment 2, a state Constitutional amendment, which legalized access to medical marijuana for Missouri patients in a form similar to laws already passed in 31 other states. Missouri voters supported this measure by 66% statewide. Amendment 2 received more yes votes than any of the other issues on that ballot and any candidates on that ballot.

Approximately 75% of the voters in Jackson County endorsed Amendment 2. In April of 2017, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved passage of a city ordinance reducing punishment for possession of marijuana to a $25 fine. That initiative, placed on the ballot by members of NORML KC, also received support from 75% of the voters, despite the campaign having almost no money and being opposed by The Kansas City Star and at least one former prosecuting attorney on the Kansas City Council.

The decision by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to cease prosecuting most marijuana possession cases is all the more interesting when one considers the fact that only two years ago, Ms. Peters Baker joined with a handful of other Missouri prosecuting attorneys to sue the Missouri Secretary of State to keep medical marijuana off the ballot! That lawsuit did not succeed in keeping the measure off the ballot, but it did create an additional hurdle and a distraction for the campaign. The 2016 effort ultimately failed because it fell short of the number of petition signatures required in one of Missouri’s eight Congressional districts.

Smart politicians around the state will surely soon recognize that a solid majority of Missouri voters favor progressive marijuana law reforms. NORML hopes to see this fact reflected in the actions of the Missouri General Assembly. Pre-filing of bills in the legislature begins December 1. The legislature convenes its 2019 session the first week of January. NORML calls on other Missouri Prosecutors to follow the example of the St. Louis City and Jackson County Prosecutors.

For More Information Contact Dan Viets, 573-819-2669 or DanViets@gmail.com

Keep up-to-date with marijuana law reform efforts in Missouri by following Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

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US Senate: Leading Marijuana Prohibitionist Out As Senate Judiciary Chair

Fri, 11/16/2018 - 14:36

One of the US Senate’s leading marijuana prohibitionists, Iowa Republican Charles Grassley, will no longer be heading the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 116th Congress.

Representative Grassley announced today that he is stepping down as Chair of the Committee. As Chair, Grassley refused to hold any hearings or votes on marijuana-related legislation, including bipartisan legislative efforts like the STATES Act. Virtually all Senate legislation specific to marijuana policy must pass through the Judiciary Committee.

Representative Grassley received a D- grade on NORML’s 2018 Congressional Scorecard.

Next in line to Chair the Committee is Republican Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who received a C grade from NORML.

“As the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham will have to make a choice when it comes to marijuana,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Will he continue to perpetuate the failed policy of federal criminalization which resulted in over 659,000 Americans being handcuffed in 2017 alone, or will he be open to reform in a way that reflects the rapidly evolving nature of cannabis policy in the majority of states?”

Representative Grassley’s decision to step down follows the retirement of House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and the failed re-election bid of House Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX) – both of whom similarly used their powers as Chair to stifle any legislative debate on marijuana policy.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 11/16/18

Fri, 11/16/2018 - 10:33

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

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a “guarantee” that hemp legalization will be in the finalized Farm Bill. “If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there, I guarantee that,” he told reporters.

Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) has introduced a series of bills aimed at addressing the therapeutic use of marijuana among veterans.

Incoming U.S. House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA) says he will allow floor debates and votes on marijuana amendments, “unlike his predecessors.”

At the state level, Utah lawmakers are expected to consider a compromise medical cannabis bill during a special session beginning December 3.

New Jersey’s Assembly speaker and Senate president said they expect committee votes on legalizing marijuana by the end of this month. The Republican Assembly leader said legalization is “inevitable.” And a key state senator who was once opposed to ending prohibition is now expressing support.

A spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the governor plans to “introduce a formal comprehensive [marijuana legalization] proposal during the 2019 legislative session.” A New York senator said she believes Cuomo and lawmakers will legalize marijuana in the state via the 2019 budget.

It’s possible that Massachusetts recreational marijuana sales could begin on Sunday. The state’s top regulator said sales will likely start in “a week plus or minus maybe a couple of days longer than that.”

The Vermont marijuana legalization study committee’s taxation and regulation subcommittee plans to recommend a 26% or 27% tax rate on sales.

An Indiana state senator plans to file several marijuana reform bills, including decriminalization and medical marijuana legislation. A North Dakota representative plans to file a marijuana decriminalization bill. A Wisconsin state senator also plans to introduce a bill in 2019 to legalize marijuana for adults.

Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz (D) and the incoming House speaker said that the state will consider legalizing marijuana in 2019.

At a more local level, the Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor said she will stop pursuing most marijuana possession cases. Similarly, Albany County, New York’s district attorney said that starting on December 1, he will no longer prosecute simple marijuana possession cases.

Muskegon County, Michigan’s prosecutor is dropping some pending marijuana charges in light of legalization and is considering expunging past convictions. Separately, some Michigan municipalities are already moving to opt out of allowing legal marijuana sales, at least temporarily.

Following are the bills 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

Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Click here to email your federal lawmakers and urge them to support this important legislation

Texas

House Bill 63 has been pre-filed by Rep. Joe Moody that seeks to replace current criminal sanctions for marijuana possession with a civil penalty, punishable by a fine only with no jail or criminal record.

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

Senate Bill 90 has been pre-filed by Sen. Jose Menendez that seeks to expand the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) and make it more inclusive and compassionate for patients.

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

Virginia

Senator Adam Ebbin filed Senate Bill 997, seeking to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana in Virginia.

If passed, the bill would provide a civil penalty of no more than $50 for a first violation, $100 for a second violation, and $250 for a third or subsequent violation. The bill also requires that the suspended sentence substance abuse screening provisions and driver’s license suspension provisions apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a juvenile.

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

Categories: Blog Feeds

Indiana NORML: Midterm Elections Shakeup State Legislature

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:20

On Tuesday, November 6th, Indiana voters took their final opportunity to vote in the 2018 midterm election. While Indiana did not have the opportunity to vote directly on cannabis propositions as in other states, there were numerous candidates on the ballot supportive of reforming our cannabis laws. Many of them did not win their races, but this election was not without wins for cannabis reform in Indiana. Here are some highlights and some races we’re still watching:

JD Ford: State Senate District 29

During the 2018 session, state senator Mike Delph (R) voted against legalizing CBD products in Indiana, an issue widely supported by Hoosiers. JD Ford (D), on the other hand, actively campaigned on the issue of cannabis. “I believe that it is time to work with law enforcement agencies, healthcare groups, and other stakeholders to legalize medical cannabis and decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis,” Ford told us in response to one of our candidate survey questions. Delph responded to the same question about decriminalization by stating that, “This is not our most pressing area of criminal law. From a practical standpoint, we really need the federal government to address its position before we can meaningfully do so at the state level.”

JD Ford won his race and will be a new voice for reforming our cannabis laws in the Indiana Senate, where the sentiment on cannabis legislation is thought to be more even more hostile than in the House.

Chris Campbell: Indiana House District 26

Chris Campbell (D) ran against incumbent state representative Sally Siegriest (R), and won with 57% of the vote. In response to our candidate survey, Campbell said she was supportive of implementing a medical cannabis program in Indiana, decriminalizing cannabis, and allowing retail sales of cannabis for personal use.

Chris Chyung: Indiana House District 15

In house district 15, Chris Chyung (D) won his race against incumbent Harold Slager (R). “The federal government also needs to set clear guidelines on the legality of cannabis,” Chyung said in response to a question posed by NWI Times about issues that required action from the federal government, “Colorado has benefited to the tune of over half a billion dollars in revenue alone, and more in jobs growth and economic development. I will never allow Indiana to leave that kind of potential money on the table.”

Other races with supportive candidates remain to be called. Due to widespread issues at polling locations, results for Indiana’s 4th house district might not be available until November 16th, although candidate Frank Szczepanski (D) supports implementing a medical program, decriminalization, and the legalization of retail sales for personal use.

Read more here: https://www.inorml.org/election-highlights/

For more information about marijuana law reform efforts in Indiana, follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

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NORML Chapters Participate in Las Vegas’ First Business-to-Consumer Cannabis Conference

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 13:17

Members of the Nevada NORML chapters, alongside representatives from Denver NORML, Arizona NORML and the National NORML Board of Directors, participated in Las Vegas’ first Business-to-Consumer Cannabis conference this weekend at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

The Herban Expo opened its doors Friday as a free convention available to the public. While there are a vast array of emerging expos and shows within the cannabis space, Herban Expo’s unique focus on consumers and free entry certainly set it apart. With nearly 50 vendors from across Nevada regions and nationwide, the show floor remained a steady source of valuable education and networking all weekend.

It was a great honor that Las Vegas NORML was asked to organize the panels and educational content, for all three days on the main stage. The Las Vegas NORML stage ended up featuring almost 30 panels and presentations, composed of over 60 experts! The feedback from attendees regarding their experiences were overwhelmingly positive. Topics of panels included, “CannaParents”, Criminal Justice Reform, Cannabis is Medicine, Social Use Lounges, How to Start a Cannabis Support Business, and more.

As part of NORML’s call to action over the weekend, members from the various chapters led efforts to collect letters to Congress in support of marijuana reform. Though the goal for the weekend was 500, nearly 600 letters were signed to demonstrate support for the STATES Act, SAFE Banking Act, the Marijuana Data Collection Act and expansion for Veterans’ Access! Attendees of the event were eager to participate in the letter writing campaign and found it to be a great opportunity to familiarize themselves with current federal legislation.

This past weekend hundreds of marijuana related businesses arrived early in Las Vegas for MJ BizCon, the largest Marijuana conference to hit the states, but entry costs nearly $700 for the general public. Herban Expo will return again in 2019 and NORML chapters are excited to remain an active part in the educational aspects in order to bring consumers the most valuable experience possible. 

More about this year’s expo and upcoming info for future events can be found at www.HerbanExpo.com. Thank you everyone that attended! See you in 2019! Follow Las Vegas and Nevada NORML on Instagram (@lasvegasNORML & @NevadaNORML) for more information about upcoming events.

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New Legislation Aimed To Reduce Veterans Medical Marijuana Confusion

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 06:42

Just two days after Veteran’s Day, Congressman Seth Moulton has introduced a series of bills aimed at addressing the therapeutic use of marijuana among veterans.

Post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and other medical issues can be a matter of life or death. Moreover, failure of VA policy to allow physicians to openly talk about cannabis or recommend it has a deleterious effect on the doctor-patient relationship and on the well-being of our veterans.

While Rep. Moulton’s bills do not address the core issue of the inability for VA doctors to fill out state-legal medical marijuana recommendations it does address the uncertainty of VA policy when it comes to a veteran’s ability to have an honest conversation with their doctor.

The three bills are as follows:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Policy for Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018. This bill would amend and codify a medicinal cannabis policy the VA has but is not widely disbursed. As more veterans turn to medicinal cannabis to more effectively treat their various service- and non-service related injuries, the relationship with their healthcare providers is becoming ever more important. The VA has a policy protecting a veteran’s benefits if they discuss their medicinal cannabis use with their health care provider; however, not all healthcare providers respond in a standard way and veterans still fear and experience repercussions of some kind. This bill clarifies and codifies patients’ and healthcare providers’ roles and responsibilities in incorporating medicinal cannabis into a patient’s treatment plan and requires the policy to be prominently posted in all VA facilities.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Survey of Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018. This bill would have the VA conduct a nation-wide survey of all veterans and VA healthcare providers to learn about how veterans are using medicinal cannabis. From the American Legion’s survey on medicinal cannabis, “22 percent of veterans stated they are currently using cannabis to treat a medical condition and 40 percent of caregivers stated they know a veteran who is using medical cannabis to alleviate a medical condition.” With the growing use of medicinal cannabis among veterans, the VA needs a better understanding of what veterans are doing to self-medicate various conditions.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medicinal Cannabis Education Act of 2018. This bill would partner the VA with medical universities who have incorporated medicinal cannabis education into their curriculum to develop continuing education programs for primary healthcare providers.

Upon introduction, Rep Moulton said “Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers. Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana – including our veterans. We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible. We also have an obligation to make sure our veterans are getting the best healthcare in the world. We have a long road ahead of us until medicinal cannabis is fully researched and legal but we can take a few steps now to start figuring that out. As someone who still receives healthcare from the VA, I see no reason why veterans healthcare should be behind the eight ball. These bills are an important first step towards finding out what can be most successful as treatment options evolve and change.”

While these bills would make commendable advances if passed by Congress, they fail to include the fix most needed of VA policy, which would be to allow VA doctors to fill out the necessary state-legal medical marijuana recommendation form in the 33 states that now have laws governing the therapeutic use of cannabis.

There are two pieces of legislation currently pending which would address that currently pending in the House and Senate. They are The Veterans Equal Access Act in the House carried by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act in the Senate carried by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

You can contact your federal lawmakers in support of medicinal cannabis policy reform to support veterans by clicking here.

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Congress: New House Rules Chairman Pledges To Allow Floor Votes On Marijuana-Related Amendments

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 15:07

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern says that he will permit federal lawmakers to debate and vote on marijuana-related amendments when he assumes control of the House Rules Committee in 2019.

“Unlike my predecessor, I’m not going to block amendments for marijuana,” he said. “Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind.”

Representative McGovern replaces outgoing Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid to Democrat Colin Allred. Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. His actions single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms — such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

“Representative Pete Sessions was the single greatest impediment in the US House to the passage of common-sense, voter-supported marijuana law reform measures,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “His departure opens the door for the possibility of House lawmakers in 2019 enacting a number of significant, NORML-endorsed policy changes.”

Representative McGovern indicated that he would prioritize legislative measures to limit federal interference in legal marijuana states, to expand medical cannabis access for veterans, and to amend federal banking restrictions on the legal cannabis industry.

“This just seems like common-sense stuff,” McGovern said. “Especially on the issue of medical marijuana — people who are opposed to that are just on the wrong side of public opinion, overwhelmingly. It’d be nice if, every once in a while, Congress acted in a way that people wanted. I know that may seem like a radical idea, but come on.”

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Texas NORML: Midterm Elections and the 86th Texas Legislature

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 08:26

Prohibitionist Pete Sessions has been ousted from office by Collin Allred and a huge number of volunteers, voters and cannabis activists! Cannabis was a huge part of this race’s conversation. We are hopeful that this huge shake up will help marijuana bills move more expeditiously at the Federal level as Sessions has been a huge roadblock for change.

Support our mission in Texas!

“Texans has re-affirmed that they are no longer satisfied with the status quo for marijuana laws in Texas. Many advocates in North Texas and across Texas worked hard to remove Sessions, who has been an major impediment at the Federal level,” said Jax Finkle, Executive Director of Texas NORML. “Session’s stance was not based in science, constituent opinion, common sense policy making nor the Texas GOP platform. We are hopeful for the upcoming Legislative Session here in Texas and hope that we will see more movement at the Federal level as well.”

We also had some important changes in Texas. At the state level, we have 12 incumbents that have been replaced with Freshman in the House, 2 in the Senate and 2 at the Federal level. These are important changes before our legislative session that kicks off in January 2019.

Become a sustaining donor and support our work during the session!

The 86th Texas Legislature will convene on January 8th, 2019, but the pre-filing period began yesterday. Lawmakers have begun introducing legislation for consideration during the upcoming legislative session. (Learn more about preparing for the session here.)

Several marijuana related bills have been introduced:

HB 63 (Rep. Joe Moody) — Relating to the civil and criminal penalties for possession of certain small amounts of marihuana and an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia; creating a criminal offense. Participate in our action alert!

SB 156 (Sen. Jose Roriguez) – Relating to the civil and criminal penalties for possession of certain small amounts of marihuana and an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia; creating a criminal offense.

SB 90 (Sen. Jose Menendez) — Relating to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and the licensing of dispensing organizations and testing facilities; authorizing fees.

HB 186 (Rep. Terry Canales) — Relating to the determination of the weight of marihuana and other tetrahydrocannabinolsfor the purpose of the prosecution and punishment of the offense of possession of those substances.

HB 122 (Rep. Gina Hinojosa) — Relating to the medical use of marihuana; providing an affirmative defense to prosecutionfor possession of marihuana.

SB 116 (Sen. Jose Menendez) — Relating to industrial hemp; requiring an occupational license; authorizing fees.

HJR 21 (Rep. Ron Reynolds) — Proposing a constitutional amendment to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for medical use.

HB 209 (Rep. Ron Reynolds) — Relating to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and the licensing of dispensing organizations and testing facilities; authorizing fees.

Become a sustaining donor and support our work during the session!

For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in the Lone Star State, follow Texas NORML on Facebook  and Twitter and become a member today!

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Grateful and Determined this Veterans Day

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 08:50

This Veterans Day, you will likely read and hear many political leaders paying lip service to honor our nation’s veterans.

But as they list out their policy prescriptions, one that directly impacts nearly one-in-four veterans will be suspiciously absent: Marijuana.

Post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and other medical issues can be a matter of life or death, and failure of VA policy to allow physicians to openly talk about cannabis or recommend it has a deleterious effect on the doctor-patient relationship and on the well-being of our veterans.

There are two pieces of legislation currently pending in Congress that would end this needless discrimination: the Veterans Equal Access Act in the House and The Veterans Medical Marijuana and Safe Harbor Act in the Senate.

Send a message to your federal lawmakers now about these bills.

According to survey data compiled by the American Legion, we now know that 22% of veterans self-report consuming marijuana to alleviate symptoms stemming from a physical or mental ailment.

These reforms are absolutely necessary given the alarming rates of opioid addiction and suicide by veterans. According to data released last year by the Department of Veterans Affairs, twenty former servicemen and women take their lives each day, while a 2011 report revealed that veterans are twice as likely to die from an opioid overdose compared to the civilian population.  Veterans acknowledge using marijuana at rates far higher than the general population, and nearly half of them describe their use as self-medicating, according to data published earlier this year in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

This Veterans Day, our federal lawmakers would be wise to end the criminalization of healthcare by veterans. Addressing the senseless federal prohibition of marijuana and allowing it’s therapeutic use to be legally accessed by the tens-thousands of veterans who are already consuming it for such purposes makes sense from a moral, compassionate, political, and fiscal perspective.

The fact is that these men and women put on the uniform to defend this nation’s freedoms and it is the height of hypocrisy that they return as civilians only to be criminals in the eyes of the state as they seek health care.

Join us in sending a message to Congress today.

Thank you for taking action today,

Your friends at NORML

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Senate Majority Leader Guarantees End To Federal Hemp Ban

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 12:50

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) publicly reaffirmed today that provisions lifting the federal prohibition of hemp will be included in the finalized language of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill). The must-pass legislation is currently being debated by leadership in conference committee.

“If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there. I guarantee that,” McConnell told reporters in an exchange first reported by Marijuana Moment and The Hill. He added: “I don’t want to overstate this – I don’t know if it’s going to be the next tobacco or not – but I do think it has a lot of potential. And as all of you already know, in terms of food and medicine but also car parts. I mean, it’s an extraordinary plant.”

The hemp-specific provisions, which Sen. McConnell included in the Senate version of the bill, amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’)

Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, which permits states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.

Lawmakers are seeking to finalize and pass the 2018 farm legislation prior to year’s end.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 11/9/18

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 10:48

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

This week was a big week for marijuana with Michigan voters approving the legalization and retail sale for adults, and Utah and Missouri voting to allow medical marijuana access.

There were also 16 counties and two cities in Wisconsin that approved non-binding marijuana related ballot measures, as well as five cities in Ohio that voted to remove all criminal possession penalties. Read more here.

In other news unrelated to the election, Massachusetts regulators are saying that adult use retail sales will begin within days, after being delayed from the original start date on July 1.

The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board, mainly made up of physicians, voted in favor of adding autism as a medical cannabis qualifying condition, but rejected PTSD, bipolar disorder and ADHD. They also voted to keep the THC cap at 3%. This recommendation now has to be approved by the Iowa Board of Medicine. Separately, the state’s first dispensary will begin selling low-THC medical cannabis products on December 1.

In light of Michigan’s new legalization and regulation policy, Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer (D) is considering options to expunge marijuana records.

Two Tennessee lawmakers are preparing to file medical cannabis legislation.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and lawmakers are still negotiating tax rates for marijuana legalization legislation. They had originally set a date for a vote on the measure for October 29.

New York’s Assembly speaker said “sealing low-level marijuana possession convictions” should be a priority for 2019.

At a more local level, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced that she plans to pursue legal marijuana sales in the nation’s capital in early 2019.

The Green Bay, Wisconsin City Council approved an ordinance to lower the penalties for marijuana possession and the Santa Fe, New Mexico City Council is considering a resolution calling for “legalization, decriminalization and/or regulation of cannabis and cannabis-related products for recreational use.”

Additionally, in huge non-U.S. news, a key Mexican senator who will be a member of the new presidential administration filed a bill to legalize marijuana production and sales. The move comes less than one week after the nation’s Supreme Court struck down the criminalization of cannabis.

Following are the bills 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

Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Click here to email your federal lawmakers and urge them to support this important legislation

New York

A11390 seeks to require public health insurance programs to cover medical marijuana related costs.

The measure amends state law so that publicly funded health programs, including the largely-publicly funded Essential Plan, would treat medical cannabis like any other legal prescription drug “for the purposes of coverage under medical assistance.”

Update: Companion legislation, S9189, was introduced on 11/2/18 and referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

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

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US Attorney General Jeff Sessions Resigns

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 13:59

Jeff Sessions is TERRIFYING!

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions today announced that he is resigning, effective immediately, from the office of the Department of Justice.

In both his tenure in Congress and as Attorney General, Sessions was a longstanding, vocal opponent of marijuana policy reform, who once opined, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” As Attorney General, his office rescinded the 2013 Cole memorandum which directed prosecutors not to interfere in state-sanctioned marijuana activity. However, that action encouraged numerous members from both parties to strongly criticize the office, and eventually led to the introduction of The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018 – bipartisan House and Senate legislation that seeks to protect jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana from federal intervention.

Commenting on his exit, NORML Director Erik Altieri said, “Attorney General Jefferson Sessions was a national disgrace. NORML hopes that he finds the time during his retirement to seek treatment for his affliction of 1950’s reefer madness.”

Commenting on the prospects for his replacement, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “With 33 states now recognizing the medical use of cannabis, and with 10 states having legalized the use and sales of marijuana for all adults, it is pivotal that the next US Attorney General be someone who recognizes that most Americans want cannabis to be legally regulated and that they oppose any actions from the Justice Department to interfere with these state-sanctioned efforts.”

Sessions’ chief of staff Matt Whitaker will serve as acting Attorney General until a permanent appointment is confirmed.

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Marijuana Reform Scores Big Wins In Midterms

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 13:30

Marijuana reformers enjoyed numerous federal, state, and local victories last night. Here are the highlights.

STATE BALLOT INITIATIVES

Florida: Sixty-three percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 4, which amends the state constitution to restore voting privileges to those with non-violent felony convictions – including tens of thousands of those convicted of marijuana-related offenses. Passage of the amendment is anticipated to reinstate voting rights to some 1.4 million Floridians.

Michigan: Voters by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent approved Proposal 1, legalizing the adult use, cultivation, and retail marketing of marijuana. Michigan is the first Midwest state to legalize adult marijuana use and sales, and it is the tenth state overall to do so. Under the measure’s provisions, adults will be able to legally begin possessing cannabis ten days following the certification of the 2018 election results. An estimated 25 percent of the US population now resides in a jurisdiction where the adult use and possession of cannabis is legal.

Missouri: Sixty-six percent of Missourians approved Amendment 2, which amends the constitution to permits physicians to recommend medical marijuana at their sole discretion, and provides licensed dispensary access to qualifying patients. The measure beat out two competing ballot initiatives, neither of which received more than 50 percent support from voters.

North Dakota: Fifty-nine percent of North Dakota voters rejected Measure 3, a grassroots initiative that sought to strike marijuana from much of the criminal code and would have ended most marijuana-related arrests. Though the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, NORML is proud to have worked closely with local organizers over the past months, and is looking forwarding to coordinating future statewide reform efforts under the North Dakota NORML banner here.

Utah: Fifty-three percent of Utah voters approved Proposition 2, which facilitates legal medical cannabis access to qualified patients. In the coming months, state lawmakers are anticipated to hold a special legislative session with regard to implementing the new law. NORML is calling on state politicians to “respect the will of the electorate and move swiftly to enact The Utah Medical Cannabis Act in a manner that comports with both the spirit of the law and the letter of law.” With yesterday’s passage of medical marijuana legalization in Missouri and Utah, 33 US states now recognize the therapeutic use of cannabis by statute.

KEY FEDERAL RACES

There were some major changes in the US House of Representatives that bode well for the prospects of future, federal marijuana law reform. Perhaps most importantly, Congress’ chief marijuana prohibitionist – Texas Republican Pete Sessions – lost his re-election bid. Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. His actions single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms — such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

But Rep. Sessions is not the only prohibitionist leaving Congress. Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte – who as House Judiciary Chair failed to schedule any significant marijuana bills for hearings – has retired and will no longer be in Congress following the conclusion of this term

With Sessions and Goodlatte out of power, it is likely that members of the House will once again weigh in on and pass a number of important legislative reforms in 2019.

In addition to these notable departures, a number of NORML-endorsed Congressional candidates and incumbents won their races – including leading reformers like: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), David Joyce (R-OH), and Barbara Lee (D-CA). To see the outcomes for races involving all of NORML’s 2018 endorsed candidates, please visit here.

KEY STATE RACES

In four states — Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois — voters elected Governors who openly campaigned on a platform that included legalizing adult marijuana use. In two other states — California and Colorado — voters elected Governors who have a long-history of spearheading legalization reform efforts. And in Maine and in New Mexico, two of the nation’s most rabid marijuana prohibitionists, Paul LePage and Susana Martinez, have been replaced by Governors who are open to enacting common-sense cannabis reforms. For a complete run-down of gubernatorial races impacting marijuana policy, please visit the NORML blog here.

LOCAL BALLOT VICTORIES

Voters in Ohio and Wisconsin approved a series of binding and non-binding local marijuana reform initiatives on Election Day.

In Ohio, voters in five cities — including Dayton (population 140,000) — approved municipal ordinances seeking to either eliminate or significantly reduce local fines and penalties associated with marijuana-related offenses. Voters approved similar measures in the communities of Fremont (population 16,000), Norwood (population 20,000), Oregon (population 20,000), and Windham (population, 2,200). And in Wisconsin, voters in sixteen separate counties — including Milwaukee County — approved non-binding ballot questions expressing support for the legalization of cannabis for either medical purposes or for adult use.

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Election 2018: Voters In Ohio And Wisconsin Approve Municipal Reform Measures

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 10:04

Voters in Ohio and Wisconsin approved a series of binding and non-binding local marijuana reform initiatives on Election Day.

In Ohio, voters in five cities — including Dayton (population 140,000) — approved municipal ordinances seeking to either eliminate or significantly reduce local fines and penalties associated with marijuana-related offenses. Voters approved similar measures in the communities of Fremont (population 16,000), Norwood (population 20,000), Oregon (population 20,000), and Windham (population, 2,200).

Several other Ohio cities and towns — including Athens, Bellaire, Newark, Logan, Roseville, and Toledo — have previously enacted similar voter-initiated ordinances.

In Wisconsin, voters in sixteen separate counties — including Milwaukee County — approved non-binding ballot questions expressing support for the legalization of cannabis for either medical purposes or for adult use.

The results to these advisory questions bode well for the prospects of a potential statewide ballot measure in 2020. Such an effort would likely be endorsed by Governor-elect Tony Evers, who in the past has expressed support for such a vote, stating: “I’d support it (marijuana legalization), but I do believe there has to be a more thoughtful, rigorous conversation around it as a state. So I would love to have a statewide referendum on this.”

Sixty-four percent of registered Wisconsin voters say that marijuana should be “legalized for use by adults, … taxed, and regulated like alcohol,” according to a statewide October 2018 poll.

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Election Night: Gubernatorial Victories Bode Well For 2019 Statewide Reform Prospects

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 07:45

Voters on election day decided in favor of several gubernatorial candidates who campaigned on promises to either address or enact statewide marijuana law reforms as Governor.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano
said: “In four states — Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois — voters elected Governors who openly campaigned on a platform that included legalizing adult marijuana use. In two other states — California and Colorado — voters elected Governors who have a long-history of spearheading legalization reform efforts. And in Maine and in New Mexico, two of the nation’s most rabid marijuana prohibitionists, Paul LePage and Susana Martinez, have been replaced by Governors who are open to enacting common-sense cannabis reforms.”

He concluded, “In 2019, we anticipate unprecedented legislative activity at the state level in favor of marijuana law reform legislation, and we expect to see several significant legislative victories before the year’s end.”

Below is a summary of several key races:

CALIFORNIA: Voters elected Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to be California’s next Governor. Newsom received an A grade from NORML for his longstanding support for marijuana legalization, which includes empaneling the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy and campaigning on behalf of California’s 2016 adult use marijuana legalization law. He replaces Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (B grade from NORML).

COLORADO: Voters elected Democratic Congressman and NORML-endorsed candidate Jared Polis to be Governor. As a member of the US House of Representatives, Polis spearheaded prominent legalization legislation, such as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, and was a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. He replaces outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper (B grade from NORML).

CONNECTICUT: Democrat Ned Lamont replaces Dan Malloy (B- grade from NORML) as Connecticut’s next Governor. In contrast to Malloy, who said that legalizing marijuana was not the state’s “best interest,” Lamont acknowledged during the campaign, “The time has come for Connecticut to responsibly legalize marijuana.” According to the results of an August Quinnipiac University poll, 59 percent percent of Connecticut voters support “allowing adults in Connecticut to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.”

ILLINOIS: Democratic candidate J.B. Pritizker defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner (C+ rating from NORML). Pritzker was outspoken in his support for marijuana policy reform throughout the campaign, stating, “In the name of criminal justice reform, consumer safety, and increased state revenue, Illinois needs a governor who is ready to legalize marijuana.” He also campaigned in favor of commuting the sentences of those incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes. Sixty-six percent of Illinois voters support “the legalization of recreational marijuana if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol,” according to a 2018 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll.

MAINE: Democrat Janet Mills will replace outgoing Gov. Paul LePage, who received a D- grade from NORML earlier this year. As Governor, LePage campaigned against the states’ 2016 adult use legalization initiative and later vetoed legislation that sought to fully implement it into law. By contrast, Mills acknowledges that “properly implemented, marijuana legalization has the potential to create thousands of jobs, grow the Maine economy, and end an outdated war on drugs.”

MICHIGAN: Democratic candidate Gretchen Whitmer defeated Republican candidate Bill Schuette in Michigan’s Governor’s race. Whitmer endorsed the state’s 2018 adult use legalization measure, Proposal 1, which was enacted by 56 percent of the state’s voters. By contrast, former Attorney General Schuette opposed Proposal 1, and formerly campaigned — unsuccessfully — against the passage of medical cannabis access in Michigan.

MINNESOTA: Democratic candidate Tim Walz has been elected to be the next Governor of Minnesota. During his gubernatorial campaign, Walz embraced marijuana legalization, pledging to “replace the current failed policy with one that creates tax revenue, grows jobs, builds opportunities for Minnesotans, protects Minnesota kids, and trusts adults to make personal decisions based on their personal freedoms.” Fifty-six percent of Minnesota adults support legalizing adult marijuana use, according to the results of an October Survey USA poll.

PENNSYLVANIA: Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf was re-elected as Governor of Pennsylvania. Wolf received B- grade from NORML and has been vocal in his support for amending the state’s marijuana laws so that minor marijuana possession offenses are no longer classified as criminal misdemeanors. NORML-endorsed candidate John Fetterman was successful in his bid to be elected Lt. Governor.

NEW MEXICO: Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham will replace Republican Susana Martinez. Grisham has said that she would be “inclined to sign” legislation regulating adult marijuana use. By contrast, Martinez vetoed numerous marijuana reform bills, including those expanding medical cannabis access and legalizing hemp. She received an F grade from NORML.

WISCONSIN: Democratic candidate Tony Evers defeated Republican incumbent Scott Walker to become Wisconsin’s next Governor. Walker opposed efforts to amend adult use marijuana law during his tenure as Governor – receiving a D+ grade on NORML’s gubernatorial scorecard. By contrast, Evers says he’s “not opposed to” legalization. “I’d support it, but I do believe there has to be a more thoughtful, rigorous conversation around it as a state. So I would love to have a statewide referendum on this.” Sixty-four percent of registered Wisconsin voters say that marijuana should be “legalized for use by adults, … taxed, and regulated like alcohol,” according to a statewide October 2018 poll.

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Voters Approve Proposition 2 Legalizing Medical Marijuana Access in Utah

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 21:24

With the approval of Proposition 2, Utah has become the 33rd state to regulate the licensed production and distribution of medical cannabis products to qualified patients. The vote comes ahead of a proposed special legislative session of the Utah legislature to address specific rules and regulations governing medical cannabis patient access.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said, “It is our hope that Utah’s politicians will respect the will of the electorate and move swiftly to enact The Utah Medical Cannabis Act in a manner that comports with both the spirit of the law and the letter of law.”

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.

According to national polling compiled earlier this year by Quinnipiac University, 91 percent of voters nationwide support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”

 

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Michigan Voters Overwhelmingly Pass Proposition 1 Legalizing the Retail Sale of Marijuana For Adults

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 20:24

With the approval of voter-initiated Proposition 1, Michigan has become the 10th state to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said,  “Voters in Michigan sent a resounding rebuke to their state’s failed policy of prohibition and elected to follow a new, more sensible path of regulation and legalization. Instead of arresting thousands of citizens a year for possession of a plant, Michigan will now be able to prioritize law enforcement resources towards combating violent crime, honor personal freedom and civil liberties, end the racist application of weaponizing prohibition laws against communities of color, and collect tax revenue that was previously going to black market elements and put it towards important social programs such as education and infrastructure development.”

Proposition 1 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.

“For years, Michigan has been one of the leading states in the nation in total annual marijuana-related arrests,” added Altieri, “In 2016, police made over 22,000 marijuana-related arrests, at an estimated cost to taxpayers of over $94 million. That wasteful and harmful practice ends today.”

According to recently compiled nationwide survey data provided by Gallup, 66 percent of US citizens — including majorities of self-identified Republicans, Independents, and Democrats — believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal.

 

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Voters Approve Amendment 2 Legalizing Medical Marijuana Access in Missouri

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 20:03

With the approval of Amendment 2, Missouri has become the 32nd state to regulate the licensed production and distribution of medical cannabis products to qualified patients.

The amendment was one of three competing ballot measures that seek to regulate medical cannabis use in Missouri. Of the three, NORML only endorsed Amendment 2. That is because we believe that Amendment 2 is written in a manner that best provides for the needs of patients and their physicians.

“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 creates a robust statewide system for production and sale of medical cannabis,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Of the three proposals on the ballot, we believed that Amendment 2 was the clear choice for voters, and the voters agreed.”

According to national polling compiled earlier this year by Quinnipiac University, 91 percent of voters nationwide support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”

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