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Updated: 12 hours 18 min ago

Legalization Proposals Progress Around the Country

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 15:03

Just about two months into the 2019 legislative session, legalization proposals are swiftly moving forward in states across the country. Irrespective of geographic location or political ideology, lawmakers everywhere are beginning to realize that now is the time to take action on marijuana reform. Here is the latest on key states from coast to coast:

Hawaii

Senate Bill 686 seeks to legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of small amounts of marijuana for adults. The measure would allow adults 21 and over to purchase one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six cannabis plants in their own home.

On January 31, the Senate Committee on Judiciary held a public hearing on SB 686 where they heard testimony for and against the bill. Then on February 7, the Committee unanimously approved the bill with amendments. This marked the first time a legislative committee in Hawaii moved a legalization proposal forward. The bill must still be approved by two more Senate committees before reaching the Senate floor for consideration by the full chamber.

While Hawaii’s legislature is controlled by Democrats, Governor David Ige has expressed skepticism toward full legalization in the state.

Click here to email your lawmakers in support of Senate Bill 686

New Hampshire

House Bill 481 seeks to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults. The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants. The bill would also provide for the expungement of certain cannabis related offenses and establish a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee the regulated market.

On January 16, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee heard testimony for and against HB 481 during a public hearing. On February 21, despite some members of the committee bringing up concerns over public health, the committee approved the bill by a narrow 10-9 vote.

While Republican Governor Chris Sununu has expressed opposition to the measure, legislators have speculated that ample support exists among lawmakers to potentially override a veto.

Statewide polling data shows that 68 percent of New Hampshire adults support “legalizing [the] possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal recreational use.” Seventy-four percent of respondents endorse marijuana being sold at state-licensed outlets and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.

Click here to email your lawmakers in support of House Bill 481

New Mexico

House Bill 356 seeks to permit the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over. Under this proposal, adults would be allowed to possess up to two ounces of cannabis, and cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis plants in their homes if they are licensed to do so by the state. Adults would also be able get certain cannabis related offenses expunged from their record.

On February 9, the House Health and Human Services Committee heard public testimony for and against HB 356, and two days later voted to approve the bill by a 5-2 vote. The bill was then heard by the House Judiciary Committee on February 23. The committee voted to approve a substitute bill that would give employers the ability to take adverse action against an employee or applicant for their off the job cannabis use. The bill will now go to the House floor for consideration by the full chamber.

A separate proposal is also pending to permit adult use marijuana sales, Senate Bill 577. Under this proposal, retail stores would be regulated and operated by the state government as opposed to being privately operated. This bill does not allow for home cultivation or expungement of prior convictions.

On February 23, the Senate Public Affairs Committee voted unanimously to approve SB 577.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is supportive of legalization, having campaigned and won on the issue.

Statewide polling data shows that 60 percent of likely voters support legislation to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana sales to adults 21 and over.

Click here to email your lawmakers in support of HB 356 and SB 577

New Jersey

Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497: The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act seeks to regulate the adult use marijuana market.

Senate and Assembly lawmakers voted to advance the bills out of the Joint Committee on Appropriations back on November 26, 2018. Since then, lawmakers have been negotiating key provisions of the bill with Governor Phil Murphy. After months of debate since the last vote, it was announced last week that state lawmakers have come to an agreement with Governor Murphy regarding retail marijuana tax rates, settling on charging sales tax by weight as opposed to a specific percentage.

Governor Phil Murphy campaigned and won on a legalization platform, having pledged to legalize cannabis within his first 100 days in office.

Fifty-eight percent of voters support “completely legalizing the possession and personal use of recreational marijuana,” and 79 percent support “allowing an individual to clear their record” of a past marijuana possession conviction,” according to an October 2018 Rutgers-Eagleton poll.

Click here to email your lawmakers in support of The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act

Vermont

In 2018, Vermont became the first state to pass legislation through the legislature to legalize the personal possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana. S. 54 seeks to expand upon that law by establishing a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market. The bill was introduced with over half of Vermont’s Senate members adding their names as cosponsors.

On February 19, the Senate Committee on Judiciary approved S. 54 with amendments after hearing public testimony on the bill. Then, the measure went to the Committee on Finance where it was approved on February 22. The bill will need to pass through the Appropriations Committee before heading to the Senate floor.

Governor Phil Scott has expressed doubts about signing retail market legislation into law, citing concerns about driving while impaired.

Click here to email your lawmakers in support of S. 54

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Rick Steves: I support home cultivation rights for all marijuana consumers

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 13:56

In 2012, I was proud to help fund and promote the passage of I-502 which legalized, taxed, and regulated marijuana in my home state of Washington. Now, seven years later, I’m delighted to see more and more politicians, not just on the West coast, stepping up to address marijuana policy reform and fighting to uphold the civil liberty of adults who enjoy smoking pot responsibly.

It’s time our state lawmakers comport Washington law with those of other states that regulate the adult use of marijuana — all of which allow adults to grow limited quantities of cannabis in private. Legislation is currently stalled in the House and Senate to allow adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their homes. I support the passage of this language and the liberty for all adults to have this option.

Granting the right to home cultivation gives more power to the consumer and ensures the safe, convenient, and affordable access to marijuana for all. But, even more simply, it just makes sense.

Join me today in supporting the freedom for every cannabis consumer to have the right to cultivate marijuana in the home.

Send a message to your lawmakers now, and demand they support home cultivation rights.

Thank you for joining me in this exercise in democracy,

Rick Steves

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/22

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 16:42

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

At the state level, the North Dakota House of Representatives defeated a decriminalization bill on the House floor by a narrow 43-47 vote. On the same day, LegalizeND announced that they will try again with a 2020 legalization ballot initiative.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation into law this week permitting the production of industrial hemp in accordance with the new federal regulations.

Delaware prosecutors will no longer be encouraged to pursue criminal charges against those who possess marijuana for personal use, according to guidelines issued by the state’s new Attorney General.

Regulators in Iowa added two new medical cannabis qualifying conditions to the current list, ulcerative colitis (effective immediately), and severe pediatric autism with self-injurious or aggressive behaviors (effective 4/2/19).

New Jersey lawmakers have come to an agreement with Governor Murphy regarding retail marijuana tax rates, settling on charging sales tax by weight as opposed to a specific percentage.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

Your Highness,
Carly

Actions to Take

Federal

Regulate Nationally: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

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

Arizona

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2149, to amend the definition of “cannabis” under the 2010 voter-approved medical marijuana law.

The bill clarifies that products made from the resin of the cannabis plant are legal for medical purposes under state law, including extracts, concentrates, oils, tinctures, and edible products, amongst others.

Passage of this legislation is important because the Arizona Court of Appeals recently ruled that patients who rely on these products are not protected under the law and could face felony penalties for simply using their medicine.

Update: HB 2149 was approved by the Public Safety Committee on 2/20

AZ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Senate Bill 1003 / House Bill 2273 to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: SB 1003 was unanimously approved by the House and Senate earlier this month, and was awaits transmitted to the Governor for his signature or veto on 2/19.

AZ resident? Click here to email your governor in support of industrial hemp production

California

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 305, to permit qualified patients the ability to access medical cannabis preparations while in health care facilities.

CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of access in healthcare facilities

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 8, as well as Senate Bill 598, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: Both bills are scheduled for a public hearing in the Joint Committee on Environment on 3/1.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Florida

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 372, Senate Bill 182, and House Bill 7015, and another House version PCB HHS 19-01, to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

Update: The Senate Rules Committee Committee unanimously approved an amended version of S182 on 2/20, only requiring a second opinion for terminally ill patients under 18, and also allowing treatment centers to sell paraphernalia. The bill will go to the Senate floor for a vote next.

Update #2: The House Appropriations Committee approved H7015 by a 28-1 vote, removing the provision requiring pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes to have a filter. The bill will go to the House floor for a vote next.

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing patients to smoke medical cannabis

Georgia

House Bill 324 would expand and facilitate patients’ access to medical cannabidiol (CBD) products.

The pending legislation seeks to establish a regulatory framework to permit the retail sale of medical CBD products to registered patients.

Update: HB 324 was heard by the House Regulated Industries Low Thc Oil Access Subcommittee on 2/22.

GA resident? Click here to email your

Illinois

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2980, to amend the Illinois Banking Act and the Illinois Credit Union Act in a manner that facilitates banks and other financial institutions to safely conduct transactions with licensed marijuana businesses.

IL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of banking access

Iowa

Senate File 1012 reduces criminal penalties for first time offenders for the possession of 5 grams of marijuana or less from a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000, to a simple misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 30 days in jail and/or a $625 fine.

Update: A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee approved SF 1012 on 2/21. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the full committee on 2/25.

IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions

Maryland

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 864, to protect registered medical cannabis patients and their caregivers from employment discrimination.

If passed, this measures would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against qualifying patients who legally consume cannabis off-the-job.

Update: SB 864 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate on 2/26.

MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of employment protections

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 862, to protect state-sanctioned medical cannabis patients and their caregivers from housing discrimination.

The measure would prohibit landlords from arbitrarily refusing to provide housing access to an individual based solely on their possession or consumption of medical cannabis.

Update: SB 864 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate on 2/26.

MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of housing protections

Montana

Senate Bill 176 seeks to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: SB 176 was approved by the full Senate on 2/18, and now awaits action in the House.

MT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Nevada

Legislation is pending, AB 132, to protect registered medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination.

This measure prohibits employers from arbitrarily discriminating against prospective employees who legally consume medical cannabis off-the-job in accordance with state law.

Update: AB 132 was heard by the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee on 2/20, but no further action was taken.

NV resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of employment protections

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, House Bill 366, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid addiction, misuse, or abuse.

Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will hold a Work Session on HB 366 at 10am on 2/26/2019, Legislative Office Building 104.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

Legislation is pending, House Bill 364, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The measure would permit patients to grow up to two mature plants and 12 seedings, and to possess up to six ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will hold a Work Session on HB 364 at 10am on 2/26/2019, Legislative Office Building 104.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation rights

Legislation is pending, House Bill 459, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: The Environment and Agriculture Committee will hold a Public Hearing on HB 459 at 10am on 2/26/2019, Legislative Office Building 203.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

New Mexico

Legislation is pending, House Bill 356, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.

A separate proposal is also pending to permit adult use marijuana sales, Senate Bill 577, with retail stores being regulated and operated by the state government as opposed to being privately operated.

Update: HB 356 is scheduled to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on 2/23/2019. SB 577 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 2/23/2019, Room 321.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Senate Bill 204, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

The measure permits children with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered to them while on school property.

Update: SB 204 was approved by the full Senate on 2/19, and now awaits action in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

Senate Bill 323 removes the threat of jail time as a penalty for first time offenders convicted of possessing up to one half an ounces of marijuana.

Update: SB 323 was heard and approved by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 2/19.

Senate Bill 408 reduces the penalty for the possession of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor, but does not remove the threat of jail time.

Update: SB 408 was heard and approved by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 2/15.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions

Senate Bill 477, to protect the rights of parents and guardians who participate in the state’s medical cannabis access program.

The measure states that an individual’s status as a medical cannabis patient “shall not in itself constitute grounds for intervention, removal or placement into state custody of a child in that individual’s care.”

Update: SB 477 was heard and approved by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 2/19.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of parental protections

Senate Bill 406:

  • Allows medical practitioners to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe will benefit from cannabis therapy;
  • Allows primary caregivers to obtain a license to grow medical cannabis;
  • Removes medical cannabis use as a violation of probation or parole;
  • Protects patients who require organ transplants

Update: SB 406 was heard by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 2/19 and 2/21.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

North Dakota

Several pieces of legislation are pending to expand patient access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.

House Bill 1417 allows physicians to explicitly authorize patients diagnosed with cancer to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis than are generally allowed under the law.

Separately, House Bill 1519 would permit providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with 13 additional conditions, including anorexia nervosa, anxiety, opioid use disorder or withdrawal, and autism.

A third measure, House Bill 1283, would allow physicians assistants to recommend medical cannabis to their patients.

And a separate measure, House Bill 1364, would permit edible medical cannabis products, as long as they do not appeal to minors.

Update: All four bills were overwhelmingly approved by the full House on 2/18, and now await action from the Senate Human Services Committee.

ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis expansion

Oklahoma

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 868 / House Bill 2628, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: The Senate Committee On Agriculture & Wildlife will hold a hearing on SB 868 at 10am on 2/25/2019, Room 511-A.

OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

South Carolina

S. 366: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act is pending to regulate medical cannabis distribution and access, but it prohibits the inhalation or smoking of herbal medical cannabis.

Update: S. 366 is scheduled for a hearing in a Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee at 10:30am on 2/27/2019, Gressette Room 105

SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

Tennessee

Legislation is pending, SB 357 / HB 844, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update:SB 357 will be considered by the full Senate on 2/25/2019. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing on HB 844 at 12pm on 2/26/2019, House Hearing Room II.

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Vermont

S. 54 seeks to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

Update: S. 54 was approved by the Senate Committee on Judiciary on 2/19. The bill was then heard and approved by the Committee on Finance on 2/22.

VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of marijuana regulation

West Virginia

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2538, to allow the State Treasurer to select financial institutions to provide services to licensed marijuana businesses. The bill was already approved by the full House.

This legislation is important because no industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions.

WV resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of banking access

Wyoming

House Bill 171 seeks to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: HB 171 was heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 2/20/2019.

WY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

That’s all for this week!

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Studies: Cannabis Exposure Not Associated With Significant Changes In Brain Morphology

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 12:20

Cannabis exposure is not associated with significant changes in brain morphology in either older or younger subjects, according to a pair of newly published studies.

In the first study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine compared brain scans of occasional (one to two times per week) and frequent (more than three times per week) marijuana consumers versus nonusers. Subjects were between 14 and 22 years of age.

Investigators reported: “There were no significant differences by cannabis group in global or regional brain volumes, cortical thickness, or gray matter density, and no significant group by age interactions were found. Follow-up analyses indicated that values of structural neuroimaging measures by cannabis group were similar across regions, and any differences among groups were likely of a small magnitude.”

They concluded, “In sum, structural brain metrics were largely similar among adolescent and young adult cannabis users and non-users.”

The findings appear in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

In the second study, researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in 28 cannabis users over the age of 60 versus matched controls. Cannabis consumers, on average, had used marijuana weekly for 24 years.

Authors reported that long-term cannabis exposure “does not have a widespread impact on overall cortical volumes while controlling for age, despite over two decades of regular cannabis use on average. This is in contrast to the large, widespread effects of alcohol on cortical volumes) that might be expected to negatively impact cognitive performance.” Researchers also reported “no significant differences between groups” with regard to cognitive performance.

They concluded: “The current study was able to explore cannabis use in a novel older adult population that has seen recent dramatic increases in cannabis use while controlling for likely confounding variables (e.g., alcohol use). The participants in this study were generally healthy and highly educated, and it is in this context that cannabis use showed limited effects on brain structural measures or cognitive performance.”

The findings appear in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

Commenting on the two studies, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “These findings dispute the long-standing ‘stoner-stupid’ stereotype and should help to assuage fears that cannabis’ acute effects on neurocognitive behavior may persist long after drug ingestion, or that cannabis exposure is associated with any sort of significant changes in brain morphology.”

The studies’ conclusions are similar to those of prior trials similarly finding no significant long-term changes in brain structure attributable to cannabis exposure.

Full text of the study, “Cannabis use in youth is associated with limited alterations in brain structure,” appears in Neuropsychopharmacology. Full text of the study, “Preliminary results from a pilot study examining brain structure in older adult cannabis users and nonusers,” appears in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

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Delaware: Attorney General Calls For Expanding Use Of Civil Penalties For Marijuana Violations

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 11:21

Delaware prosecutors will no longer be encouraged to pursue criminal charges against those who possess marijuana for personal use, according to guidelines issued by the state’s new Attorney General, Kathleen Jennings.

In a memorandum issued this week, Jennings callas for sweeping changes to help prioritize resources toward the prosecution of violent criminal offenders and away from non-violent defendants. These changes include encouraging prosecutors and “police agencies to expand the use of civil citations [for] marijuana possession in lieu of criminal arrest.”

News radio station WHHY reports that the decriminalization policy will apply to possession cases involving up to 175 grams of cannabis.

Under state law, the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis is a civil violation. By contrast, offenses involving the possession of marijuana in greater amounts (between one ounce and six ounces) are classified as criminal misdemeanors – punishable by up to three months in jail and a criminal record.

The Attorney General’s actions to cease criminally prosecuting minor marijuana possession offenses are similar to those recently taken by municipal law enforcement officials in other states, including Baltimore, St. Louis, and Philadelphia.

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Marijuana Activists Will Meet in Raleigh to Lobby State Lawmakers

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 09:45

Marijuana bills have a history in North Carolina of getting sent to committee’s where they die. While public support for marijuana reform has never been better, the Senators and Representatives in Raleigh aren’t so quick to jump on board. Our organizations focus is to raise awareness of bills and mobilize marijuana supporters to act. Since Senate Bill 58 was introduced, we have sent over 3,000 letters to the committee on “Rules and Operations of the Senate” (where S58 currently sits) from hundreds of citizens across the state in support of this bill. We have also been making daily phone calls and emails to Senator Rabon (Chairman) and Senator Brown’s (Vice-Chairman) offices.

Catawba NORML Lobby Day Registration

For the more “hands on” activist, we suggest registering for our Lobby Day. This puts you, as an activist, in the offices of our legislators to help us get this bill out of this committee and on to the next phase of its life. Even if you have no experience, but you love marijuana reform, register. We will provide you with all the training and resources necessary to be effective. There is a lobby day training session at Catawba NORML’s next public meeting on Wednesday, March 13th as well as video guidance to be sent to all attendees. The bottom line, we need activists asking these Senators every single day about this bill.

“We’re giving the citizens of North Carolina an opportunity to meet directly with legislators in Raleigh about marijuana reform, specifically Senate Bill 58”, said Matthew Maulding, “There are tens of thousands of citizens and families in North Carolina that would benefit from this bill, as well as hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of ‘new’ money that our state would benefit from. It works for everyone in North Carolina and hurts no one, other than the prison industry.”

Catawba NORML Lobby Day Registration

Senate Bill 58, introduced to the Senate on February 13th, would further decriminalize personal marijuana possession up to 3 ounces and allow citizens with prior marijuana convictions to be

able to pay a fee of $100 to get those non-violent, victimless convictions off their records, which could ultimately put more people to work.

To register, go to Catawba NORML Lobby Day Registration.

What: Catawba NORML Lobby Day, citizens lobbying for Senate Bill 58

When: April 5th, 2019 from 11am-6pm (Deadline to register is March 5th, 2019)

Where: North Carolina State Legislative Building, 16 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601

For questions or interview requests, please contact Matthew Maulding at 828-455-8203 or normlofcatawbavalley@gmail.com

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths with NORML’s Fact Sheets! For more information follow NORML of Catawba Valley on Facebook and Twitter!

NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.

 

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Move Legalization Forward in New Jersey

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 14:48

In New Jersey, there has been a great deal of progress in the last few years. Several bills have been introduced in the state legislature, ranging from legalization to expungement, and the fight for freedom has never been more widely supported than now. New Jersey residents overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization; in a recent poll conducted by Monmouth University,  62 percent of New Jerseyans support legalizing the responsible adult-use of marijuana, and several members of the New Jersey State Legislature are finally listening to the will of the people and pushing for meaningful marijuana reform. However, marijuana reform has stalled in the past few months. It is urgent that these measures get to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible.

Send a general letter in support of sensible marijuana reform in New Jersey NOW.

There are three major reform bills in the New Jersey State Legislature during the current legislative session.

  • S. 2318 would allow for expedited expungement of records for those previously convicted of a marijuana crime upon passage of decriminalization or legalization measures in the state of New Jersey, as long as those past violations are no longer considered a crime under state law. It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/22/2018 and is still stuck in committee. The passage of this bill is incredibly important; legalization alone does not provide a clear roadmap for expungement and the millions of people whose lives have been altered by prior marijuana-related convictions may still be left with the stain of those convictions even after legalization is a reality in New Jersey. For more information on this bill (and similar measure S. 3205) and to send a message to your state lawmaker in urgent support of this legislation, click here.
  • Companion bills S. 2703 and A. 4497 would legalize marijuana for personal adult-use in the state of New Jersey and provides expungement relief for people with certain past marijuana offenses. The bill was voted out of committee on 11/26/2018 and is now on its second floor reading and waiting for a scheduled vote. For more information on this bill and to send a message to your state Senator or state lawmaker in support of this legislation, click here.
  • Companion bills S. 10 and A. 10 would expand patients’ access to medical cannabis through several means. It would allow doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient they believe with benefit, phases out sales taxes on medical cannabis, and establishes additional legal protections for patients and caregivers. It also allows for additional growers and providers and expands on the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. S. 10 is in the amending stage as of 1/31/2019, and A. 10 most recently passed the Assembly Floor on 1/31/2019. For more information on this bill and to send a message to your state Senator or state lawmaker in support of this legislation, click here.

Send a general letter in support of sensible marijuana reform in New Jersey NOW.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/15/18

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:20

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

This was a big week for marijuana in Congress. The House Financial Services subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions held a hearing Wednesday to address the lack of access to basic banking services by state-legal marijuana businesses.

Also this week Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) 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.

At the state level, John Fetterman, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania began his listening tour in central Pennsylvania to get feedback from the public on marijuana legalization. You can submit your own feedback here.

The Arkansas House Rules Committee killed a bill that would have expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions eligible for medical cannabis. On the same day, the Department of Health, Surgeon General, and Drug Director issued a public health advisory regarding “the risks of harm associated with use of products derived from Cannabis, including marijuana and hemp, that claim to benefit health.”

At a more local level, the decriminalization policy in Dayton, Ohio went into effect this week. And Denver, Colorado’s mayor and district attorney launched a new program seeking to help those convicted of certain marijuana offenses expunge their records.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

Your Highness,
Carly

Actions to Take

Federal

Regulate Nationally: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

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

Colorado

Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.

Update: SB 19-013 was approved by the full Senate on 2/14, and now awaits action from the House Health & Insurance Committee.

CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

Florida

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 372, Senate Bill 182, and House Bill 7015, and another House version PCB HHS 19-01, to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

Update: The House Health and Human Services Committee approved PCB HHS 19-01 which would allow smoking in the form of pre-rolled, filtered medical cannabis cigarettes. The provision to require patients to get approval from a review panel before being permitted to smoke was removed. The bill now goes to the Appropriations Committee.

Update #2: The Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee approved S182, removing the provision to require patients to get approval from two doctors before being permitted to smoke. The bill is on the agenda for hearings (if the bill is received) in the Rules Committee for 2/20/19, 4:00 pm, 110 Senate Building, and then the Appropriations Committee for 2/21/19, 10:00 am, 412 Knott Building

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing patients to smoke medical cannabis

Georgia

House Bill 324 seeks to expand and facilitate patients’ access to medical cannabidiol (CBD) products.

The bill would establish a regulatory framework to permit the retail sale of medical CBD products to registered patients.

GA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical CBD access

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, House Bill 131 / Senate Bill 1335, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: The House Committee on Judiciary approved HB 131 with amendments. Meanwhile, The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment killed SB 1335.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

House Bill 673 / Senate Bill 1430, to expand medical cannabis access.

The proposed changes:

  • Expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients;
  • Allows licensed dispensaries to possess up to two additional manufacturing or processing facilities separate from their production facilities; and
  • Allows licensed dispensaries to sell edible cannabis and cannabidiol products

Update: The House Committee on Judiciary approved HB 673 on 2/15 after holding a hearing on the bill earlier in the week.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Idaho

House Bill 140, which seeks to reduce marijuana possession penalties penalties for first time offenders.

If passed, the bill would reduce the penalty for first time offenders convicted of possessing one half ounce or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in jail and/or $1,000 fine, to an infraction, punishable by a mandatory drug abuse education course, a $250 fine, and/or community service.

ID resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions

Maine

Legislation is pending, LD 846 / HP 620, to mandate that state agencies review and expunge prior marijuana convictions.

Under the plan, those convicted of marijuana-related activities that are no longer defined as criminal will have their records automatically sealed and no longer disseminated.

ME resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

Minnesota

Legislation is pending to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

HF 766 would:

  • Authorize each dispensary to open four additional locations in specified areas throughout the state
  • Allow specific formulations of medical cannabis to be administered to qualified patients on school grounds

MN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Missouri

House Bill 341 would allow registered medical marijuana patients to have their records expunged if they were convicted of a possession offense that occurred prior to their participation in the state’s cannabis access program.

Update: The Special Committee on Criminal Justice approved HB 341 on 2/14. The bill now goes to the Rules Committee.

MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

Montana

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 176, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

MT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

New Hampshire

House Bill 335 would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to authorize additional dispensary licenses in certain geographic areas of the state. Under existing law, only a handful of licensed dispensaries are permitted in the state. This means that some patients must travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices to obtain their medicine.

Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 335 on 2/12

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of additional dispensary locations

HB 350 would expand the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 350 on 2/12

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis expansion

House Bill 481 would allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants.

Update: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety is scheduled to hold an executive session on HB 481 on 2/21 at 11:00am in LOB 204.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

New Mexico

Legislation is pending, House Bill 356, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.

Update: HB 356 was approved by the Health & Human Services Committee on 2/11.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 204, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

The measure permits children with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered to them while on school property.

Update: SB 204 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 2/14 after holding a hearing on the bill the day before.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

Senate Bill 477 states that an individual’s status as a medical cannabis patient “shall not in itself constitute grounds for intervention, removal or placement into state custody of a child in that individual’s care.”

Update: SB 477 was heard by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 2/15.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of parental protections

North Carolina

Legislation is pending, S. 58, to expand upon the state’s decriminalization law and also to provide for the expungement of certain prior cannabis convictions.

Under current law, the possession of 1.5 ounces of cannabis is classified as a misdemeanor. This proposal raises that threshold to three ounces.

The bill would also allow those with past marijuana possession convictions to petition the court to expunge their record.

NC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expanded amounts

North Dakota

House Bill 1417 seeks to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.

The original proposed changes:

  • Expands the pool of eligible patients by permitting providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with neuropathy; opioid use disorder; opioid withdrawal; migraine; rheumatoid arthritis; and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
  • Allows physicians to explicitly authorize select patients to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis than are generally allowed under the law.

Update: HB 1417 was amended by the Human Services Committee, removing the provision adding new qualifying conditions, and only allowing doctors to authorize those with cancer to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis.

Separately, House Bill 1519 would permit providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with 13 additional conditions, including anorexia nervosa, anxiety, opioid use disorder or withdrawal, and autism.

Update: The Human Services Committee approved HB 1519 on 2/14.

ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis expansion

South Dakota

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1191, to establish an industrial hemp pilot program that will operate in compliance with newly enacted federal hemp regulations.

Update: HB 1191 was approved by the full House on 2/11. The bill now awaits action from the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

SD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Tennessee

Legislation is pending, SB 357 / HB 844, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: SB 357 was placed on Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee calendar for 2/20/2019

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

Washington

Legislation is pending, SB 5605 / HB 1500, to allow individuals with prior misdemeanor cannabis convictions to apply to the sentencing court to have their record vacated.

WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of vacating records

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 5276, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: SB 5276 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means on 2/18 at 3:30 PM

WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

That’s all for this week!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Bill to Provide Greater Access for Virginia Medical Cannabis Patients Succeeds

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 09:11

Virginia SB1719 passes the House of Delegates

Originally posted on the Virginia NORML Blog

Richmond, Va — Virginia Senator David Marsden’s SB1719 has passed unanimously through both the House of Delegates and the Senate, and is headed to the governor’s desk for signature.

SB1719 allows “registered agents” for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities, and those who rely on home healthcare providers.

“This law will ensure that patients who may be physically incapable of picking up these life-changing medicines on their own will have access to them from throughout the Commonwealth,” said Senator Marsden, of Fairfax County.

Virginia NORML members meet with Senator Dave Marsden

It is patients like Tamara Lyn Netzel, a teacher from Alexandria who suffers from multiple sclerosis, who stand to benefit from this legislation.

“Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease with severe symptoms that come and go, so I’ve accepted at some point I may not be able to drive a car safely or leave my home,” said Netzel. “It is comforting to know I will still be able to send my husband to get the medicine I need.”

SB1719, which passed unanimously through both the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate, will also allow Virginia’s licensed pharmaceutical processors to transfer products between the five state-authorized facilities, ensuring that patients have access to a wider range of products. It will also prevent the limited availability of products that could result should a provider experience crop failure.

“Allowing the exchange of various products between licensed processors will create better product selections for patients, depending on their need, regardless of their location in Virginia,” said Senator Marsden. “I am proud to be part of this effort.”

SB1719 ensures that patients will greater access to the medicines they need, a key element of continuity needed for the success of any health system.

“Patient access is critical to the success of Virginia’s medical cannabis program,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “These bills help ensure that all patients are able to obtain and use the necessary therapeutic doses of their cannabis medicines regardless of location or physical ability.”

Other medical cannabis-related bills are still making their way through the legislature. Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s SB1557 expands Virginia’s medical cannabis program, adding nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and allowing a wide range of full therapeutic-strength formulations to be dispensed.

Delegate Chris L. Hurst’s HB1720 and Senator Glen Sturtevant’s SB1632 would authorize school nurses to administer and registered student patients to use Virginia-approved medical cannabis products at school.

“We’ve received emails and calls from concerned parents throughout the Commonwealth who are worried their children could be expelled for using their doctor-recommended medical cannabis oil at school,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “Delegate Hurst’s and Senator Sturtevant’s bills would provide a much-needed solution for these families.”

Track this and all marijuana-related legislation on Virginia NORML’s 2019 legislation monitoring page.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Congressional Hearing On Marijuana Banking Held

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 08:41

The House Financial Services subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions held a hearing Wednesday to address the lack of access to basic banking services by state-legal marijuana businesses.

Currently, state-licensed marijuana businesses face a web of conflicting regulations and federal prohibitions largely prohibit these businesses from partnering with financial institutions, processing credit cards, and taking standard business deductions.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano submitted written congressional testimony, which you can read here.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal published on op-ed on the topic in The Hill Newspaper, entitled Businesses need bank accounts — marijuana shops included.

You can share the op-ed on Facebook by clicking here and on Twitter by clicking here.

One of the best ways to speed up marijuana legalization is by allowing the existing companies access to basic banking services and it is encouraging to see Congress begin the conversation.

You can watch the hearing below.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Veterans Medical Marijuana Access Legislation Introduced In House and Senate

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 13:23

Today, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) 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 33 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.

Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers 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 Senator Schatz and Rep. Lee 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.

“In 33 states, doctors and their patients have the option to use medical marijuana to manage pain—unless those doctors work for the VA and their patients are veterans,” Senator Schatz said. “This bill gives VA doctors in these states the option to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans, and it also promises to shed light on how medical marijuana can help with the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

“As the daughter of a veteran, I am committed to ensuring that our veterans have access to the quality and comprehensive medical care they deserve – including medical marijuana. The current federal prohibitions on cannabis are unnecessary, harmful, and counterproductive,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The federal government should never stand between our veterans and their medicine. This critical legislation is a long overdue step to empower veterans and their doctors to make informed health care decisions, without political interference.”

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

A copy of the bill is available 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.”

Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act by clicking here now.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Businesses Need Bank Accounts; Marijuana Shops Included

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 11:09

Imagine operating a business without a bank account. Or having to pay each of your employees and vendors in cash. Imagine being forbidden from letting your customers pay for purchases with a credit card, or being able to ask a bank for a small business loan.

This is the reality of hundreds of small and medium-sized business owners throughout the country who are engaging in the emerging cannabis marketplace.

To date, nine states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington – permit retail sales of recreational marijuana to adults. Furthermore, a total of 33 states have enacted policies to establish a regulated medical cannabis program.

Currently, state-licensed marijuana businesses face a web of conflicting regulations. Specifically, federal prohibitions largely prohibit these businesses from partnering with financial institutions, processing credit cards, and taking standard business deductions.

No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to reliable banking solutions. While it is encouraging to see that a small but growing number of financial operators are beginning to provide necessary services to those engaged in state-compliant cannabis commerce, it is self-evident that this industry will remain severely hampered without better access to credit and financing.  

In 2017, then nominee for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was asked about these financial hurdles. Mnuchin stated, “I will work with Congress and the President to determine which provisions of the current tax code should be retained, revised or eliminated to ensure that all individuals and businesses compete on a level playing field.”

But while Mnuchin’s statements indicated a step in the right direction, ultimately, the responsibility is upon Congress — not upon the US Treasury Department or upon state lawmakers — to change federal policy so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities. Under complete Republican control, the 115th Congress did nothing to address this issue.

Under new management, the House Financial Services subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions will hold a hearing today entitled “Challenges and Solutions: Access to Banking Services for Cannabis-Related Businesses”

This represents a significant normalization of cannabis policy reform in Congress and a big victory for Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA) and the recently formed Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

“Last fall when we introduced our blueprint for action in the 116th Congress on cannabis reform, we identified the access to banking issue as one of the first dominos that should fall. With Chairwoman Waters scheduling a hearing on the historic legislation by Congressmen Heck and Perlmutter, we are finally making progress toward addressing the irrational, unfair, and unsafe denial of regular banking services for state-legal marijuana businesses around the country,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Founder, and Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “Congressmen Heck and Perlmutter have been tireless champions of this new and vibrant industry and this is an important step forward toward ultimately ending the failed prohibition of marijuana.”

Legislation introduced by Rep’s Perlmutter and Heck known as the SAFE Banking Act sought to address this issue in the 115th Congress. Yet they were denied an opportunity to receive either a committee hearing or markup under previous committee leadership.

For a rapidly growing industry that seeks legitimacy and requires transparency, the inability to obtain banking and credit access remains a primary, but unnecessary, roadblock. In order to truly bring the marijuana industry out of the shadows, actions need to be taken by Congress to amend these outdated and discriminatory practices.

In order to best support the states that have had the good judgment to license and regulate businesses to produce, manufacture, or distribute cannabis, it is critical to address this aspect of the failed policy of federal marijuana criminalization as part of any reform package moving forward.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/8/19

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 16:00

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

This week, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden introduced legislation in the Senate — The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act — to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference.

A subcommittee of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on cannabis business banking issues next week.

At the state level, activists in Texas, Maryland, and Kentucky gathered in their state capitols alongside state and local NORML chapters to lobby for sensible marijuana policy reform legislation.

Activists in Mississippi have already collected thousands of signatures in hopes of qualifying a medical cannabis ballot initiative for the 2020 ballot.

A Georgia bill to reduce marijuana possession penalties was defeated in a senate committee this week. So was a Mississippi medical cannabis proposal.

At a more local level, efforts are underway in Ann Arbor, Michigan to put a cannabis social use question before voters on the 2020 ballot. Clark County, Nevada officials deferred consideration of a proposal to allow social cannabis lounges in the county.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

Your Highness,
Carly

Actions to Take

Federal

Regulate Nationally: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

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

Arizona

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2362, to allow those with certain past cannabis-related arrests or convictions to petition the court to have their records expunged.

AZ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2400, to provide courts the discretion to depart from the mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted of certain crimes.

Under existing state law, marijuana possession (of two pounds or less) carries a mandatory minimum sentence of four months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

AZ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of removing mandatory minimum sentences

Colorado

Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.

Update: The Senate Health & Human Services committee recommended the bill be passed with amendments on 2/6. The bill will now go to the Senate floor for consideration by the full chamber.

House Bill 19-1028 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Update: The bill was approved unanimously by the full House, and will now be transmitted to the Senate.

CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

 

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, Proposed Bill 350, to limit patients who use medical cannabis in compliance with state law from seeking civil actions if they are discriminated against by their employer. NORML opposes this legislation.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in opposition to restricting patients’ employment rights

Legislation is pending, House Bill 5442, to expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis by allowing physicians to recommend it to those with generalized chronic pain.

Update: HB 5442 is scheduled for a hearing in the Joint Committee on Public Health on 2/11.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 45, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid withdrawal.

Update: SB 45 was heard by the Joint Committee on Public Health on 2/4, but no action was taken on the bill.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as a substitute for opioids

Florida

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 182, to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

Update: SB 182 was approved by the Health Policy Committee on 2/6 with some more restrictive amendments, of which include requiring patients to get a second opinion from an unrelated physician in order to be authorized to smoke medical cannabis. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee on 2/12/19 at 4:00 pm, 110 Senate Building.

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers and urge them to pass a bill without arbitrary restrictions

Democratic State Senator Bill Montford re-introduced Senate Bill 384, which would allow qualified patients to be administered medical marijuana in schools.

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access in school

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, House Bill 708 / Senate Bill 686, to legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of small amounts of marijuana for adults.

Update: SB 686 was unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee on 2/7.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Legislation is pending, House Bill 673 / Senate Bill 1430, to expand medical cannabis access.

The proposed changes:

  • Expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients;
  • Allows licensed dispensaries to possess up to two additional manufacturing or processing facilities separate from their production facilities; and
  • Allows licensed dispensaries to sell edible cannabis and cannabidiol products

Update: HB 673 was approved by the Committees on Health on 2/8, and now awaits action from the Judiciary Committee.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1524, to protect registered medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination.

The measure would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume medical cannabis off-the-job in accordance with state law.

Update: The Committee on Labor, Culture, and Arts approved SB 1524 on 2/6

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of employment protections

Iowa

Legislation is pending, SF 104 / HF 221, to expand Iowa’s narrow medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.

If passed, this bill would establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program that provides qualified patients access to physician-authorized medical cannabis via licensed providers.

IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical access

Indiana

Legislation is pending to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

House Bill 1540 would impose a class C infraction for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, which translates to a civil penalty punishable by a fine between $100 and $200.

Separately, House Bill 1283 would impose a class D infraction for the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana, which translates to a civil penalty punishable by a fine of up to $25.

A third measure, House Bill 1658, would decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana.

IN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Kentucky

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon introduced Senate Bill 82 / House Bill 265, to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The measure would impose a civil penalty for any “personal use quantity”of cannabis, punishable by a $100 fine.

KY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Maryland

Legislation is pending to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use in Maryland.

House Bill 656 would permit adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to cultivate up to four marijuana plants in their home.

House Bill 632 would amend the state’s constitution by putting a question before voters on the 2020 ballot regarding whether or not the state should regulate marijuana sales. If approved by voters, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home.

MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 862, to protect state-sanctioned medical cannabis patients and their caregivers from housing discrimination.

The measure would prohibit landlords from arbitrarily refusing to provide housing access to an individual based solely on their possession or consumption of medical cannabis.

MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of housing protections

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 864, to protect registered medical cannabis patients and their caregivers from employment discrimination.

If passed, this measure would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against qualifying patients who legally consume cannabis off-the-job.

MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of employment protections

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, House Bill 481, to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants. The bill would also establish a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee the regulated market.

Update: The bill is scheduled for a full Committee Work Session on 2/12/2019 at 10:00am in LOB 204

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

New Mexico

Legislation is pending, House Bill 356, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Oregon

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 420, to expand upon Oregon’s expungement law.

The measure would direct the Department of Justice to automatically conduct a review of past misdemeanor cannabis convictions, and to “set aside” offenses that are no longer a crime under state law.

OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of automatic expungement

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2687, to protect medical cannabis patients who require organ transplants from being deprived treatment solely due to their status as a medical cannabis patient.

OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protections for patients needing organ transplants

Rhode Island

Legislation is pending, H. 5290, to protect registered medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination.

The measure would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume medical cannabis off-the-job in accordance with state law.

RI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of employment protections

Tennessee

Legislation is pending, SB 256/HB 235, to decriminalize the possession small amounts of marijuana in Tennessee.

The measure would decriminalize criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Legislation is pending, SB 486/HB 637, to provide qualifying patients access to medical cannabis via licensed retailers.

The measure would allow registered patients to use, possess, and consume medical cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

Legislation is pending, HB 883/SB 686, to allow individuals convicted of certain cannabis-related offenses, upon the completion of their sentence, to petition the court to have their records sealed.

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of record sealing

Virginia

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1557, to expand the state’s low-THC medical cannabis oil program.

The measure would allow Virginia’s licensed practitioners to recommend and pharmaceutical processors to dispense full therapeutic-strength medical cannabis oil. The bill was already approved by the Senate.

Update: SB 1557 was approved by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions on 2/7.

VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1719, to allow “registered agents” for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities and those who rely on home healthcare providers. The bill was already approved by the Senate.

Update: SB 1719 was approved by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions on 2/7.

VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing registered agents

Wyoming

Legislation is pending, House Bill 278, to regulate medical marijuana access to qualified patients.

The measure would allow state-registered patients who possess a recommendation from their physician to use, possess, and access medical cannabis via licensed providers.

WY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

That’s all for this week!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Texas Marijuana Policy Lobby Day

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:02

On Thursday, hundreds of Texans joined us at the Texas State Capitol to discuss marijuana policy with legislators! For this historic day, over 400 Texans registered to participate, covering all thirty-one senate districts and three-quarters of the house district. It was a beautiful representation of how important reform is for Texans.

We provided a training session for our participants that covered an overview of the legislative process, review of priority legislation, what to expect from their visits and Q&A. We provided training packets for them to use in preparation for their visits, including voting records to check where their legislators have historically stood on the issue. Participants then crafted a message to place on their postcards which they delivered to offices along with policy overviews and then requested their Senator and Representative co-sponsor important legislation. Pictures of the event can be found here. Livestream of the event can be found here.

The changes that I have seen over the last 14 years in Texas are stark. The first lobby day I ever participated in only had a few dozen dedicated Texans holding the torch for freedom. At that time, legislators had a harsh opinion of our work. But today, we have a record number of bills and have created a huge change in public opinion in the Capitol. The import of these drastic changes over the years are not lost and I am so thankful for all of the work that Texans have done to destigmatize marijuana.

We want to thank our coalition, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, for helping to continue to elevate and expand these lobby days. We are so appreciative of all of our volunteers who made this event possible. Additionally, RAMP and DFW NORML made it possible for more Texans to participate by arranging buses to bring them to Austin.

Lastly, we still have a lot of work to do this session. Brush up on our advocacy training. Catch up on the bills and participate in our action alerts! Stay tuned to us via social media and our newsletter to track how the bills are progressing and know when new action alerts are put out.

Please support our work during this session by becoming a member, making a one-time donation or becoming a sustaining donor.

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths with NORML’s Fact Sheets! For more information follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website!

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

S. 420 Introduced To End Federal Prohibition And Regulate Marijuana Nationwide

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 09:21

Senator Ron Wyden has introduced legislation in the Senate — The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act — to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference. In addition to removing marijuana from the United States Controlled Substances Act, this legislation also removes enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matters concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales — thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of Senate Bill 420 now!

“Senate Bill 420 is another sign that the growing public support for ending our failed war on cannabis consumers nationwide is continuing to translate into political support amongst federal officials,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “If we are truly going to move our nation towards sensible marijuana policies, the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act is paramount. Annually, 650,000 Americans are arrested for nothing more than the possession of small amounts of marijuana and now is the time for Congress to once and for all end put an end to the national embarrassment that is cannabis prohibition. With marijuana legalization being supported by a supermajority of Americans while Congress’ approval rating hovers around 20 percent, ending our country’s disastrous prohibition against marijuana would not just be good policy, but good politics.”

Upon introduction, Senator Wyden said, “The federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple. Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed. It’s time Congress make the changes Oregonians and Americans across the country are demanding.”

Representative Earl Blumenauer, who will carry the House companion legislation, said, “Oregon has been and continues to be a leader in commonsense marijuana policies and the federal government must catch up,” said Blumenauer. “The American people have elected the most pro-cannabis Congress in American history and significant pieces of legislation are being introduced. The House is doing its work and with the help of Senator Wyden’s leadership in the Senate, we will break through.”

Legislative text for the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act can be found here.

Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional fifteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. Instead, they have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that over 149,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

Categories: Blog Feeds

The State of Cannabis Reform in Indiana

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 08:59

During the 2018 legislative session, state representative Jim Lucas (R-69) introduced his first medical cannabis bill, HB 1106, which quickly gained three co-authors after being assigned to the House Public Health committee. Fellow Republican Sean Eberhart (district 57) joined Lucas along with Democrats Sue Errington (district 34) and Chuck Moseley (district 10) on the bill, offering bipartisan for the reform.

Citing the short session and limited time for hearings, public health chairwoman Representative Cindy Kirchhofer (R-89) opted instead to hold a hearing for House Resolution 2, authored by Representative Math Lehman (R-79) along with co-authors including herself, Representative Chris Judy (R-83), and Representative Vanessa Summers (D-99), which called for the legislative council to assign the topic of medical marijuana to the interim Public Health committee as well as requesting that the federal government remove cannabis from the Schedule I category in the Controlled Substances Act. Lehman’s interest in advancing the conversation originates in part from his friendship with his mentor and former state representative Tom Knollman, who refuses opioids in the treatment of his multiple sclerosis and is an advocate for legalizing cannabis. Citing the diametric opinions involved in this topic, from individuals such as Knollman citing their personal experience of the benefit on one hand to law enforcement and other organizations warning against going down the route of legalization on the other, Lehman explained that he thought it was time for our state to begin looking into the evidence as well as the experiences of other states and the overall impact on society.

HR 2 passed out of committee and was adopted by the House in a unanimous 94-0 vote, leading to the interim Public Health hearing that took place on October 18th of 2018. Numerous individuals testified in favor, including I.U. oncologist Dr. Alan Greenspan, Illinois state representative Tim Butler, as well as Marshall county prosecutor Nelson Chipman, who testified in a break from the official stance of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney Council (IPAC), an organization that has maintained a persistent presence at hearings involving any potential legalization of cannabis including agricultural hemp and low-THC hemp extracts.

During the discussion following testimony, state senator Mark Stoops (D-40) proposed a recommendation to create a state regulatory agency or commission to asses the impact and effectiveness of various regulatory schemes for a medical cannabis program, given the evidence and potential of cannabis for a variety of conditions and the number of states that have already instituted medical cannabis programs. His original language was amended to only specifically mention conditions for which there is a high level of evidence, based on a list of evidence levels provided by lay committee member Dr. Richard Feldman, although this motion was voted down by committee members and instead a statement claiming that the committee failed to reach a consensus and recommended further study was agreed upon by the committee.

There were varying reasons for opposition to Stoops’ motion, from wanting to hear from constituents before voting in favor (Senator Vaneta Becker), to concerns about creating a new commission to evaluate regulatory options. “I am opposed to creating another government bureaucratic agency and believe that it is not taxpayer friendly,” explained state representative Steven Davvisson (R-73) to constituents in the Facebook group Concerned Taxpayers of Washington County, defending his vote against Senator Stoops’ proposed recommendation to constituents. “It doesn’t matter what the committee recommends because a bill still must be brought forward in the General Assembly and I’m sure there will be many bills addressing this topic.” True to his prediction, a record number of cannabis bills have been introduced for consideration during the 2019 session, including a total of 13 that pertain to either medical or decriminalization.

“I understand many people have concerns about this issue,” Representative Davisson added, “but ultimately any recommendation from the committee would have only been exactly that, a recommendation. It could have been accepted by the General Assembly or ignored. By not reaching a consensus on the topic neither positive or negative, it will still be open for discussion in the General Assembly.”

With what amounted to a neutral recommendation and a call for further legislative discussion, one might have thought that when the House Public Health committee convened in January for the start of the 2019 session that they might have heeded that call by scheduling a hearing for one of the several medical cannabis bills assigned to the committee. While a hearing might not lead to the passage of a bill, it would have at minimum provided the opportunity for the type of detailed discussion requested by some interim committee members.

Senator John Ruckelshaus (R-30), who served on the interim Public Health committee and is the ranking member of the Senate Health and Provider Services committee, commented on the summer study process at a Hamilton County town hall on January 26th. “I must admit that that committee was not a robust committee. It was not a committee where we really got (I’m not going to say ‘into the weeds’) into the true depth of the issue because one of the things we really didn’t get into was to study about the other states, whose doing this right, whose doing it safe. I want say from my heart with this issue that I am open to this issue because some of you know the story about my son, who is a quadriplegic. I know how families suffer, I have seen families suffer, I have seen individuals suffer, so this is very important to me and I know this is sweeping the country right now.”

While Senator Ruckelshaus was not satisfied with the breadth of the testimony at the interim hearing, the summer study process was originally billed as a comprehensive look at the issue. “Study committees are a great tool for the legislature to fully review issues. While the federal government has yet to recognize the use of medical cannabis, we plan to fully review the issue,” Representative Cindy Kirchhoffer claimed in the lead-up to the hearing. “There is no guarantee that legislation or policy changes will come from study committee, however this is a great chance for citizens to actively engage in the legislative process and share their thoughts on this complex topic.”

With the number of speakers both supportive and opposed scheduled into a several hour hearing, many speakers rushed through their presentations in order to allow time for everyone to speak. In a phone conversation, Senator Ruckelshaus explained that the type of discussion he would like to see on this issue would involve several days of hearings where legislators can really dive into the details of how other states are implementing medical programs and which ones have the best practices that could be implemented in Indiana.

“In Indiana we must do it right, we must do it safe,” Ruckelshaus stated in his final comments at the Hamilton County town hall. “So again, I am open to this concept, but we need to have more discussion.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there will be any further discussion at all this session, at least not in a manner which allows public participation or the possibility, however faint, of advancing legislation. Representative Kirchhoffer explained that in lieu of hearing any of the medical cannabis bills assigned to her committee, she wants the Senate to take up the issue this year because the Senate Democrats made medical cannabis part of their 2019 legislative priorities. The Democrats, being the minority political party, do not hold any committee chair positions and therefore do not have any further ability to advance this conversation beyond the bills they have introduced.

The fate of non-hemp cannabis in the Senate rests in the hands of two individuals: Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-5) and Senator Mike Young (R-35). Senator Charbonneau is the chair of the Health and Provider Services committee, which was assigned two cannabis bills: S 357, Karen Tallian’s bill establishing a medical cannabis program, and S 287, introduced by Senator Mark Stoops, which would create a defense-to-possession for those whose doctors certify in writing that they have a terminal illness or serious untreatable disease. Karen Tallian also filed a decriminalization bill, S 213, which was assigned to Senator Mike Young’s Corrections & Criminal Law committee.

In a recent interview with Fox59, Senator Charbonneau told reporters that he was unwilling to consider allowing use while it is still illegal under federal law, offering little hope for a hearing in his committee this year. While Tallian’s bill would offer a more complete medical program, Stoops’ bill stops short of legalizing use per se or even setting up a legal or regulated supply chain, instead merely offering a defense to possession for those with terminal or untreatable conditions. This reform would circumvent any perceived or real concerns with state legalization in spite of federal law, although Senator Charbonneau has not yet responded to any queries asking if he would consider hearing this bill.

Senator Mike Young, who authored the 2018 bill legalizing low-THC hemp extract, would not commit to a hearing for the decriminalization bill assigned to his committee, however he did make the following statement on the Indiana NORML Facebook page in response to a question about whether or not he would be willing to comment on the possibility of hearing S 213 in his committee: “Only to say that I have 70 or so bills assigned to my committee. I have only 7 possible hearing dates available and have already had three meeting totaling 13 bills heard with one carryover. Which means I only have four dates left where I can hear 12 bills of the 57 that remain.”

“He has said that he will hear certain bills as time allows,” his legislative aide, Andrianna Hji-Avgouti, stated in an email. “As of right now, he has them prioritized and that is how he chooses what to hear in committee.” It is unclear how far down the list of bills assigned to his committee that S 213 is prioritized, although this offers the slight possibility that Senator Young has at least not completely ruled out the possibility of giving it a hearing.

Meanwhile in the House, several bills offering different iterations of cannabis decriminalization have been assigned to the Corrections and Criminal Law committee chaired by Representative Wendy McNamara (R-76). Bills assigned  were introduced by both Republicans and Democrats, including Jim Lucas (HB 1283), John Young (HB 1460), Heath VanNetter and Mara Reardon (HB 1658), Ragen Hatcher (HB 1540) and Dan Forestal (HB 1658).  When Representative McNamara’s press secretary was asked if McNamara would be willing to provide a quote for this article on whether or not she planned to schedule any of these bills for a hearing, the request was responded to with a simple, “Rep. McNamara is unavailable for an interview”. While full legalization and even the implementation of a medical access program are still the source of contention in the Statehouse, considering some form of decriminalization is not completely anathema to legislators. Representative Lehman, while stating up front that he will likely never support full legalization in Indiana, said that the topic of decriminalization in some form has merit and is worth reviewing.

From outside the Statehouse, it can seem as though the issue is in a gridlock that might never be broken until it is too late for some Hoosier to access the therapeutic uses of cannabis or to avoid the criminal consequences of possession, but legislators familiar with Indiana politics behind the scenes are noting an increasing willingness to see this as a serious rather than fringe issue. “I think that there is momentum building, just not as fast as some of us would like,” Representative Shane Lindauer (R-63) told us. Lindauer is Vice Chair of the Public Health committee and co-author of Representative Lucas’ medical bill, HB 1384. “Please continue to encourage members to contact their state Representatives and Senators,” he said, offering advice on how to continue to move this issue forward. “I understand that sometimes it feels like that doesn’t get us anywhere, but I can assure you that if done respectfully, it will register.”

While the decision not to hear bills exists in a political environment that includes lack of support from Governor Holcomb, the current state of cannabis reform in Indiana and the potential progress that could be made this session rests largely on the shoulders of a few committee chairs, none of whom have thus far opted to schedule hearings for the cannabis bills assigned to their committee. 2019 might not be the year of measurable progress (although it is certainly not out of the question), but it is absolutely the year that the General Assembly becomes aware of the fact that this issue can’t be shuffled around forever without adequately addressing it.

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

 

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

Cannabis Advocates to Rally in Kentucky

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 09:11

The Kentucky chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (KY NORML) is assisting Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana (KY4MM) in its lobbying efforts Feb. 5 with constituents from across the state seeking cannabis reform.

“There are several meetings made for constituents to meet with their legislators on both days. KY4MM has been extremely important in helping to get all of our supporters to come together. It’s vital that we speak as one voice for a medical program.” said Matthew Bratcher, KY NORML executive director.

Patrick Dunegan, Executive Director for Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC), “We should not be prisoners of an imaginary border for our health”, referring to Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois becoming emerging medical cannabis markets.

There are four bills pertaining to the legalization of cannabis during the 2019 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

State Rep. Jason Nemes, R-33, is sponsoring a medical cannabis bill (HB 136) that allows doctors to recommend cannabis therapy as part of patients’ treatment regimens. “It is time to allow doctors to have this option for their patients,” Nemes said Jan. 9 during a news conference.

Fairdale Republican state Sen. Dan Seum, R-38, has proposed SB80, which would allow responsible adult use of cannabis. Seum recently told lawmakers he “smoked a joint” instead of using potentially addictive opioids during colon cancer treatment. “And guess what? No nausea,”; Seum said last month.

Other cannabis bills on the 2019 legislative agenda include a Cannabis Possession Decriminalization bill (SB 82) sponsored by State Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, which would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use; and Democratic state Sen. Perry Clark’s “Shauna’s Law”; (SB83) which provides workplace protections for public employees who fail a drug test related to use of a legal industrial product, such as CBD.

Missouri, Ohio and West Virginia are among states bordering Kentucky that have approved legislation pertaining to medicinal marijuana.

Following Tuesday’s lobbying session, KY NORML is hosting a Cannabis Community Forum at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at The Plantory, 501 W. Sixth St., Suite 250, Lexington, on the second floor of the West Sixth Complex. The forum includes an educational seminar on cannabis, a review of House Bill 136 (HB136) and an expert question and answer session.

The following day, KY NORML returns to the capitol with KY4MM, and Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC) to continue lobbying efforts, culminating with a Rally from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. Scheduled speakers include Rep. Jason Nemes (R-33), Rep. Diane St. Onge (R-63), Sen. Dan Seum (R-38) among others.

For more information regarding the Feb. 5 and 6 lobbying sessions or Tuesday’s Lexington forum, contact Matthew Bratcher at matthew.bratcher@kynorml.com or Jaime Montalvo at ky4mm2014@gmail.com

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

Looking to help in a more direct way? We are always looking for people to help out with any number of tasks! CONTACT US and tell us about yourself and what your talents are!

Categories: Blog Feeds

NORML Chapter Newsletter

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 20:28

Everyday NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Below is a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

NORML Chapters Organized and Energized for State Legislative Sessions in 2019

“That’s why dozens of NORML chapters are organizing citizen lobby days to advocate for the end of marijuana prohibition and other reforms ranging from depenalization and expungement, to workplace drug testing and social consumption.”

Read more from NORML.org!

Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Chicago NORML Continues Push for Diversity in Cannabis Industry

“Recognizing the short window of time available to shape the cannabis industry in Illinois, Chicago NORML and BlackRoots Alliance plan to bring the issues of racial equity and restorative justice in the cannabis industry to the forefront of the public’s attention.”

Read more from In These Times!

Follow Chicago NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Mid-Missouri NORML Hosted Medical Marijuana Panel Discussion

“Because voters approved Amendment 2 in the November general election, the panel will discuss how medical marijuana will work in Missouri, along with what constitutional rights people have when dealing with police.”

Read more from the Missourian!

Follow Mid-Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Texas NORML Hosted Advocacy Training for 2019 Legislative Session  

“The Texas chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws hosted an advocacy training day on Saturday with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy and Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition.”

Read more from the Austin Business Journal!

Follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Virginia NORML Hosted 2019 Cannabis Conference and Lobby Day

“About 150 people, including health care providers and attorneys, attended the Virginia 2019 Cannabis Conference, held by the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.”

Read more from WTKR News 3!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Washington NORML Continues to Make Home Cultivation a Top Legislative Priority

“Bailey Hirschburg of the Washington chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws contended that all other states with legalized recreational marijuana have allowed home-growing for recreational use.”

Read more from Crosscut!

Follow Washington NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

NORML Leaders in the Media

Ashley Weber, Executive Director, Colorado NORML

“It’s about getting to know your representatives, and writing them daily if something’s important. Make appointments, become an acquaintance with them.”

Read more from NORML!

Follow Colorado NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Brian Seamonson, Deputy Director, Madison NORML

“I think it’s there and people are coming around,” Seamonson said. “They’re not being afraid to talk about it anymore.”

Read more from Wisconsin Public Radio!

Follow Madison NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Chris Cano, Executive Director, Central Florida NORML

“The method of ingestion for someone utilizing medical marijuana should be between them and their doctor, not the state legislature.”

Read more from WFLA News 8!

Follow Central Florida NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Cindy Cutler, Board Member, Virginia NORML

“We would certainly like to see other Commonwealth’s Attorneys follow the lead of Greg Underwood and would like to see our General Assembly this year address the decriminalization of marijuana.”

Read more from WTKR 3!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML

“Boone County voters clearly favor making marijuana possession enforcement a very low priority. It would be very appropriate for our prosecutors to do the same thing that the prosecutors in St. Louis County, St. Louis City and Jackson County have already done.”

Read more from KOMU 8!

Follow Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

David Phipps, Communication Director, Indiana NORML

“CBD is usually the first step most states take, because it does not have THC in it. Or it has extremely low amounts.”

Read more from My Wabash Valley!

Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Doug Green, Legislative Director, Empire State NORML

“They are big, basically out-of-state corporations, some of which are publicly traded, and they don’t represent the communities that need to have equity in the industry, not just an opportunity for jobs or job training.”

Read more from Crain’s!

Follow Empire State NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“Keeping in place local bans on retail outlets and consumption rooms and keeping the state law allowing employers to continue to discriminate against workers for off the job abuse of cannabis, even for medical use.”

Read more from 790 KABC!

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“Right now, the money from Measure D could be used for anything. We’re going to have to hold public officials accountable to make sure this happens.”

Read more from The Potrero View!

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“We’re hearing rumors that there may be legislation in Sacramento this year to put into law a provision to strike deliveries around the state.”

Read more from SF Weekly!

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“The positive socialization aspect of cannabis use is long-established and forcing people to consume only in their homes (if permitted) separates people unnecessarily.”

Read more from Cannabis Now!

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“Lowering state excise taxes will help the legal marijuana industry gain a better foothold over the black market in California.”

Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune!

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

“We ask that he include cannabis law reform, ideally in the form of adult recreational legalization, in his upcoming budget proposal so we can finally put an end to the injustices of cannabis prohibition.”

Read more from the Green Bay Progressive!

Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

“They had on average a 25-percent reduction in both opiate overdose deaths and admissions to treatment for opiate addiction.”

Read more from the WTMJ TV!

Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Jax Finkle, Executive Director, Texas NORML

“I’m going to kick off the night talking about the Farm Bill.”

Read more from Dallas News!

Follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jay Selthofner, Executive Director, Northern Wisconsin NORML

“The best way to combat illicit marijuana coming into your state is to develop a program opposite of prohibition.”

Read more from Fox 11!

Follow Northwest Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Jay Selthofner, Executive Director, Northern Wisconsin NORML

“It is going to be a business that wants to open up within the boundary of a municipality that will be the one willing to spend the resources needed to petition.”

Read more from the Daily Press!

Follow Northwest Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“It’s time for the courts of justice committee in the Senate to advance this legislation. If it doesn’t get a floor vote we can only look to the controlling members of those committees who are not supporting what Virginians are demanding.”

Read more from WHSV 3!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“Cannabis policy will be the loudest it’s ever been on the campaign trail in 2019.”

Read more from the Richmond Free Press!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“Three quarters of Virginians support marijuana decriminalization or ‘fines not crimes,’ and nine out of ten Virginians support doctor-recommended medical cannabis.”

Read more from Alt Daily!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“These members are primarily prosecutors, former prosecutors, former law enforcement, and maintaining the status quo is something that works for them.”

Read more from Public New Service!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“Will Virginia eventually decriminalize personal possession of marijuana? Yes. Will it be in 2019? That’s very unlikely.”

Read more from Southside Daily!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“In 2016, we passed a bill that let us go forth and write a regulatory program that was based on Connecticut’s then-program, which was also low-THC, extraction-based products only and served to a small set of patients.”

Read more from WTVR CBS 6!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jesse Scaccia, Fundraising Director, Virginia NORML

“The facts and the research are on our side, we are very lucky that there are 10 states ahead of us with adult regulated use so that’s essentially ten case studies.”

Read more from 13 News Now!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jesse Scaccia, Fundraising Director, Virginia NORML

“Just as every Virginian should be able to enjoy a bourbon or a beer in their home, so they should enjoy marijuana.”

Read more from WAVY TV 10!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Josh Brard, President, Purdue NORML

“Marijuana became illegal not because of what it is but because of the propaganda behind it, and propaganda is just misinformation.”

Read more from The Exponent!

Follow Purdue NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Katie Clifton, Board Member, Virginia NORML

“We are very frustrated that the General Assembly is not listening to what the majority of voters are saying about marijuana legislation.”

Read more from WDBJ 7!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Kevin Oliver, Executive Director, Washington NORML

“I believe there will be a home-grow bill this year.”

Read more from the Inlander!

Follow Washington NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Lee Otts, Executive Director, Memphis NORML

“While we’re encouraged by republicans coming forward with it, we’re cautiously optimistic about what it should contain.”

Read more from Local Memphis!

Follow Memphis NORML on Facebook and become a member today!   

Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

“He was one of the first to go public that marijuana should be legal and has stayed with the fight all these many years. It’s great that we have him as a senior leader of the movement.”

Read more from Fox 17!

Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

“We replaced the governor and Gretchen Whitmer replaced the director of LARA and even in this first month they already have taken action to benefit patients.”

Read more from The Manchester Mirror!

Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML

“When these specialty medications are not available, it significantly affects the health and welfare of the people across the state. That should be a cause for concern for everyone involved.”

Read more from the Lansing City Pulse!

Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Tom Gallagher, Board Member, Minnesota NORML

“A majority of Republican voters support legalization, so it is a bipartisan issue.”

Read more from KARE 11!

Follow Minnesota NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Tom Gallagher, Board Member, Minnesota NORML

“About 500 people per year have been going to prison in Minnesota for marijuana cases.”

Read more from WCCO TV!

Follow Minnesota NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths and misinformation with NORML’s Fact Sheets!

For more than 45 years NORML chapters have been 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 email NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji at KevinM@NORML.org for help with starting your own!

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

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/1/19

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 15:17

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

At the state level, activists in Florida and Missouri gathered in their state capitals along side state and local NORML chapters to lobby state lawmakers in favor of sensible marijuana policy reform.

John Fetterman, Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, is beginning a state-wide listening tour to find out where PA residents stand on cannabis legalization.

Several mayors across the state of New Jersey are calling for automatic expungement provisions to be included in the state’s marijuana regulation bill, and are threatening to ban retail sales in their jurisdictions if state lawmakers pass legislation without it.

At a more local level, officials will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offenses in Baltimore, Maryland, as a new policy was implemented by the office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City.

Manor Township, Pennsylvania is considering a proposal that would decriminalize cannabis possession. And officials in San Francisco, California are considering a proposal to allow marijuana to be socially consumed and sold at temporary events.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

Your Highness,
Carly

Actions to Take

Federal

Regulate Nationally: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

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

Arizona

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2555, to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession.

The measure would impose a civil penalty of $100 for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

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

California

Legislation is pending, AB 286, to temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis.

CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of temporary lower taxes

Legislation has been reintroduced from last year, Senate Bill 34, which 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. Last session, the measure was vetoed by Governor Brown.

CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protecting compassionate care programs

Legislation has been re-introduced by Sen. Bob Hertzberg [D], SB 51, to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

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

Colorado

Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.

House Bill 19-1028 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Update: SB 19-013 was heard by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on 1/31, but no action was taken yet. Separately, HB 19-1028 is awaiting final consideration from the full House.

CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of adding autism and opioid use to the list qualifying medical conditions

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, House Bill 6849, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The measure would permit medical cannabis patients to grow up to six cannabis plants.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation rights

Legislation is pending, House Bill 5442, to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis in Connecticut.

The measure would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis by allowing physicians to recommend it to those with generalized chronic pain.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of adding chronic pain to the qualifying medical conditions list

Florida

Legislation has been filed, Senate Bill 372, and Senate Bill 182, to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

Update: S. 182 is scheduled for a hearing in the Health Policy Committee on 2/4/19 at 1:30 pm, 412 Knott Building

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of your right to inhale herbal medical cannabis

Legislation is pending, House Bill 557, to allow access for out of state medical marijuana card holders to access their physician recommended medication in Florida.

The bill would establish what’s known as reciprocity, allowing medical marijuana card holders visiting from outside of the state to purchase medical marijuana while visiting Florida.

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of reciprocity

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, House Bill 708 / Senate Bill 686, to legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of small amounts of marijuana for adults.

The measure would allow adults 21 and over to purchase one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six cannabis plants in their own home.

Update: SB 686 was heard by the Committee on Judiciary on 1/31. The committee will vote on the bill on 2/7.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Iowa

Legislation is pending, SF 77, to expand access to certain medical cannabis products in Iowa.

The proposed changes:

  • Allow physicians to recommend low-THC medical cannabis oil to any patient whom they believe will benefit from its therapeutic use; and
  • Raises the cap on THC limits from three percent to 13 percent.

Update: On 1/31, subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary committee recommended that the measure be passed.

IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Legislation is pending, HF 93, which seeks to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis.

The measure would impose a civil penalty of $25 for for the possession of up to 42.5 grams of marijuana.

IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Legislation is pending, SF 104, to expand Iowa’s narrow medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.

If passed, this bill would establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program that provides qualified patients access to physician-authorized medical cannabis via licensed providers.

IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Missouri

House Bill 341 would allow registered medical marijuana patients to have their records expunged if they were convicted of a possession offense that occurred prior to their participation in the state’s cannabis access program.

Update: HB 341 was heard by the Special Committee on Criminal Justice on 1/31, but no further action was taken on the bill yet.

MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

Mississippi

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1371, to allow qualified patients to use and possess medical marijuana when authorized by a physician.

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

A separate measure, Senate Bill 2643, would establish a defense against criminal prosecution for individuals who can provide evidence confirming their therapeutic need for medical cannabis.

MS resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, House Bill 399, to permit those convicted of past marijuana offenses to seek an expungement of their criminal records.

If passed, HB 399 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana. Lawmakers decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses in 2017.

Update: On 1/31, HB 399 was approved by the House of Representatives on a voice vote. The bill will now be transmitted to the Senate.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

Legislation is pending, House Bill 481, to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants.

Update: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 481 on 2/05/19 at 1:00pm, Reps Hall.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

Legislation is pending, House Bill 335, to expand access to medical cannabis in New Hampshire.

The measure would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to authorize additional dispensary licenses in certain geographic areas of the state. Under existing law, only a handful of licensed dispensaries are permitted in the state. This means that some patients must travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices to obtain their medicine.

Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs is holding a work session on HB 335 at 10:00am on 2/7/19, Legislative Office Building 212

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

New Mexico

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 204, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

Update: On 1/30, the Senate Public Affairs Committee recommended that the bill be passed.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis to be administered at school

Legislation is pending to amend marijuana possession penalties.

Senate Bill 323 removes the threat of jail time as a penalty for first time offenders convicted of possessing up to one half an ounces of marijuana.

Senate Bill 408 reduces the penalty for the possession of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor, but does not remove the threat of jail time.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of possession penalty reductions

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 406, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The proposed changes:

  • Allows medical practitioners to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe will benefit from cannabis therapy;
  • Allows primary caregivers to obtain a license to grow medical cannabis;
  • Removes medical cannabis use as a violation of probation or parole;
  • Protects patients who require organ transplants

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Oregon

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 639, to allow the social consumption of cannabis by adults in licensed and regulated establishments.

The bill allows the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to issue licenses for permanent cannabis consumption venues as well as cannabis events.

OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of social consumption sites

Rhode Island

Legislation is pending, S. 161, to expand access to medical cannabis in Rhode Island

The measure would authorize three additional dispensary licenses in certain geographic areas of the state, for a total of six. Under existing law, only three licensed dispensaries are permitted in the state. This means that some patients must travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices to obtain their medicine.

RI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Tennessee

Legislation is pending, SB 256/HB 235, to decriminalize the possession small amounts of marijuana in Tennessee.

The measure would decriminalize criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Virginia

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1719, to expand access to medical cannabis for certain patients.

The measure would allow “registered agents” for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities and those who rely on home healthcare providers.

Update: SB 1719 was unanimously approved by the Senate. The bill will now be transmitted to the House.

VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Senator Glen Sturtevant has filed SB 1632 and Delegate Chris Hurst filed HB 1720, which seek to permit any student who is a registered Virginia medical cannabis patient to use Virginia-allowed medical cannabis oil on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity.

Update: SB 1632 was unanimously approved by the Senate. The bill will now be transmitted to the House.

VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis for patients at school

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1557, to expand the state’s low-THC medical cannabis oil program.

The measure would allow Virginia’s licensed practitioners to recommend and pharmaceutical processors to dispense full therapeutic-strength medical cannabis oil.

Update: SB 1557 was unanimously approved by the Senate. The bill will now be transmitted to the House.

VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Vermont

Legislation is pending, S. 54 to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

Update: The Senate Judiciary Committee heard public testimony on S. 54 on 1/31, and will consider the bill again on 2/6.

VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of regulating cannabis sales

Washington

Legislation is pending in the House and Senate, HB 1131 / SB 5155, to allow adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home.

Update: On 1/31, SB 5155 was heard by the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce, but no further action was taken on the bill yet.

WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation rights

Wyoming

Legislation is pending, House Bill 234, to reduce certain marijuana possession penalties.

The measure would amend certain felony possession offenses to criminal misdemeanors.

WY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of possession penalty reductions

That’s all for this week!

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Patients Frequently Substituting Cannabis For Anti-Anxiety Drugs

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 14:04

Patients authorized to legally use medical cannabis frequently substitute it in place of benzodiazepines, according to a pair of new studies published this week. Benzodiazepines are class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety. According to data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control, the drug was attributed to over 11,500 overdose deaths in 2017.

In the first study, Canadian researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis and benzodiazepines in a cohort of 146 patients enrolled in the nation’s medical marijuana access program. They reported that 30 percent of participants discontinued their use of anti-anxiety medications within two-months of initiating cannabis therapy, and that 45 percent did so by six-months. “Patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy showed significant benzodiazepine discontinuation rates after their first follow-up visit to their medical cannabis prescriber, and continued to show significant discontinuation rates thereafter,” authors concluded.

In the second study, investigators at the University of Michigan surveyed over 1,300 state-registered medical cannabis patients with regard to their use of opioids and benzodiazepines. They reported that 53 percent of respondents acknowledged substituting marijuana for opioids, and 22 percent did so for benzodiazepines.

These findings are consistent with numerous other papers — such as those here, here, here, and here — documenting patients’ use of cannabis in place of a variety of prescription drugs, particularly opioids and anti-anxiety medications.

Full text of the study, “Reduction of benzodiazepine use in patients prescribed medical cannabis,” appears in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research here.

An abstract of the study, “Pills to pot: Observational analyses of cannabis substitution among medical cannabis users with chronic pain,” appears in The Journal of Pain here.

Additional information is available in NORML’s fact-sheet, “Relationship between marijuana and opioids,” here.

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