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Updated: 6 hours 42 min ago

Bipartisan Legislation Introduced To Facilitate Medical Cannabis Trials For Veterans

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:29

United States Rep. Timothy Waltz (D-MN), along with over 30 bipartisan co-sponsors, has introduced legislation, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans.

The legislation states: “In carrying out the responsibilities of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, … the Secretary may conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety of forms of cannabis … on the health outcomes of covered veterans diagnosed with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions the Secretary determines appropriate.”

According to nationwide survey data compiled by The American Legion, 39 percent of respondents affirmed that they “know a veteran” who is using the plant medicinally. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they themselves “use cannabis to treat a mental or physical condition.” Yet, VA Secretary David Shulkin has consistently rejected calls from veterans groups and lawmakers to study the use of cannabis among military veterans.

Passage of HR 5520 explicitly authorizes “the Secretary to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis.”

Representative Walz, who is the ranking member of the House VA committee, said: “While we know cannabis can have life-saving effects on veterans suffering from chronic pain or PTSD, there has been a severe lack of research studying the full effect of medicinal cannabis on these veterans. Simply put, there is no department or organization better suited to conduct this critically important research than VA, and there will never be a better time to act.”

Please click here to urge your federal lawmakers to support HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Are You Doing 4/20 Right? Here’s a List of What’s Happening

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:00

Following tradition, marijuana consumers and advocates from around the globe are organizing rallies, marches and other acts of political expression or civil disobedience in advance of this year’s celebration of 4/20, an annual protest against the prohibition of marijuana. While these public events are often effective at generating some buzz and raising public awareness, they are rarely organized to directly influence or appeal to those elected officials who continue to oppose common sense marijuana law reform efforts.

To increase the political effectiveness of these events, NORML chapters are planning to combine these traditional events with a robust presence on social media that includes a call-to-action urging federal lawmakers to support HR 1227: The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act. If passed by Congress, this legislation will eliminate federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing marijuana, give states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference, and remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, which would allow for more marijuana research both recreationally and medicinally.

NORML Chapters will continue to use these public events to demonstrate that our culture is a growing part of the broader community, and to raise awareness and support for marijuana law reform efforts.

A couple examples of which are:

Members of Chicago NORML have a lot to celebrate after voters in Cook County, Illinois voted to approve, “the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older,” through a non binding referendum earlier this year. Organizers are planning a 4/20 celebration that will help fund educational & outreach efforts in their community.

In South Carolina, members of Lowcountry NORML are hosting a 4/20 rally in downtown Charleston to raise awareness about marijuana’s proven medicinal benefits, its hundreds of industrial uses, and the obvious need to end the mass arrest, stigmatization, and incarceration of nonviolent marijuana consumers. To help spread the word, supporters will be wearing t-shirts, holding signs, sharing stories, and asking others to join the fight to end marijuana prohibition.

Below is a list of events that are taking place around the country:

Alabama

Alabama NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/144416092932869/

California

Humboldt NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/176073716520697/

Monterey County NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/150183702470495/

Colorado

Denver NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/2137082429854938/

Southern Colorado NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/165225564129646/

Delaware

Delaware NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/420211771762876/

Florida

Northeast Florida NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/2049355575350535/

Illinois

Chicago NORML – https://chicagonorml.z2systems.com/np/clients/chicagonorml/eventRegistration.jsp?event=503&

Indiana

Indiana NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1964672153792901/

Purdue NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/353749958430389/

Iowa

Iowa NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1173742189395622/

Kentucky

Kentucky NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/155608048425043/

Minnesota

Minnesota NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/582709222121912/

Minnesota NORML Women’s Coalition – https://www.facebook.com/events/121504848551480/

New Mexico

New Mexico NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1546743615424372/

New York

Western New York NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1983972578530607/

North Carolina

North Carolina NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1568205869881130/

Charlotte NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/296119900919588/

NC NORML of the Triangle – https://www.facebook.com/events/457312888018481/

South Carolina

Aiken NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/146375166036064/

Lowcountry NORML – https://normlsc.org/pages/420-rally

Tennessee

Memphis NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1673604129371656/

Texas

DFW NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/185597428714345/

El Paso NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1779571042339535/

Houston NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/556580421390187/

Hub City NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1893685727608368/

Hub City NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/576627839344019/

Southeast Texas NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/221071241791222/

Texas NORML – http://www.austinreggaefest.com/

Virginia

Hampton Roads NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/217136348839688/

Roanoke NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/158436751510406/

Wisconsin

Southeastern Wisconsin NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1894312693920769/

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Meta-analysis: Cannabis Exposure Not Associated With Residual Adverse Impact On Cognitive Performance

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:07

Cannabis exposure in adolescents and young adults is not associated with any significant long-term detrimental effects on cognitive performance, according to a systematic literature review published today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Investigators affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine and with the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania reviewed data from 69 separate studies published between 1973 and 2017 involving 8,727 subjects (2,152 frequent or heavy users and 6,575 controls). Researchers reported no significant long-term deficits in memory, attention, or other aspects of cognitive functioning that could be independently attributed to cannabis use, regardless of subjects age of initiation. These findings are in contrast to similar studies assessing the impact of alcohol use and other controlled substances on cognition, which “have shown medium to large effect sizes.”

Authors concluded: “Associations between cannabis use and cognitive functioning in cross-sectional studies of adolescents and young adults are small and may be of questionable clinical importance for most individuals. Furthermore, abstinence of longer than 72 hours diminishes cognitive deficits associated with cannabis use. [R]esults indicate that previous studies of cannabis youth may have overstated the magnitude and persistence of cognitive deficits associated with marijuana use.”

Commenting on the study’s findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These conclusions are consistent with those of prior studies – in particular, recent longitudinal twin studies reporting that cannabis use is not independently associated with any residual change in intelligence quotient or executive function. These findings, combined with other recent studies reporting that cannabis exposure appears to have minimal adverse impact on brain morphology — particularly when compared to the dramatic effects of alcohol —dispute the long-standing ‘stoner-stupid’ stereotype. These findings should help to assuage fears that cannabis’ acute effects on behavior may persist long after drug ingestion, or that they may pose greater potential risks to the developing brain.”

Presently, the medical use and dispensing of cannabis is regulated in 30 states. Eight states also regulate the retail sale of cannabis to adults. According to numerous peer-reviewed studies, neither the enactment of medicalization or adult use legalization has been linked to increased marijuana use or access by young people.

Full text of the new study, “Association of cannabis with cognitive functioning in adolescents and young adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” appears in JAMA Psychiatry.

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Pennsylvania’s Department of Health Rapidly Approves Advisory Board Recommendations

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 07:41

Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law created an Advisory Board to make recommendations to the Department of Health. The Board is comprised of medical professionals, law enforcement representatives, patient advocates and appointees from the majority and minority parties. Pursuant to section 1201(f) the Board “shall have the power to prescribe, amend and repeal bylaws, rules and regulations governing the manner in which the business of the advisory board is conducted and the manner in which the duties granted to it are fulfilled. The advisory board may delegate supervision of the administration of advisory board activities to an administrative secretary and other employees of the department as the secretary shall appoint.”

The Advisory Board submitted its first recommendations to the Department of Health. The recommendations included allowing “dry leaf or flower” to be cultivated and sold at Pennsylvania’s licensed dispensaries. The law previously defined “medical marijuana products” as processed oils (including concentrates), tinctures, pills, and topicals. While smoking cannabis is specifically prohibited by the law, a form that can be “vaporized or nebulized” is permitted, thus opening the door to flower. The Board also recommended adding four qualifying conditions – Neurodegenerative Diseases, Dyskinetic and Spastic Movement Disorders, Addiction substitute therapy – opioid reduction and Terminally ill. Further, it recommended cancer in remission as qualifying as well as simplifying the definition of “chronic or intractable” pain.

The Department of Health had up to one year to act on the recommendations of the Board. In a move that excited patients and advocates, Dr. Rachel Levine on behalf of the Department acted quickly adopting all of the recommendations above. Her rapid reaction is significant for a number of reasons: 1. It demonstrates the importance of the support of the Executive Branch. During the efforts to pass medical cannabis reform activist and legislators ran in to a brick wall in former Governor Tom Corbett (R). The former Governor refused to meet with patients and dismissed medical cannabis as a “gateway drug.” When Governor Tom Wolf took office in 2015 he made it clear that he fully supported the program. 2. The Advisory Board does not exist in name only. It clearly took its responsibilities seriously and acted quickly to address some important patient concerns; 3. Adding dry leaf/flower as a “medical cannabis product” give patients greater ability to find products that effectively treat their condition. Equally important is affordability. Processed oil products have been expensive as PA waits for its licensed cultivation facilities to be come full operational. Providing access to the plant itself at a lower price point than processed products is critical for patients on fixed incomes as medical insurance does not cover medical cannabis products.

As more cultivation facilities become licensed and operational patients will have increased abilities to find the strain or product that most effectively treats their condition. By adding cancer “in remission” and streamlining the definition of “chronic pain” more patients will have access to medical cannabis. The four added conditions bring the number of defined qualifying conditions up to 21 from 17. Adding “addiction substitute therapy” is especially critical as Pennsylvania, like the rest of the nation, struggles to cope with the opioid crisis and the consequences of over-prescribing addictive narcotics. Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program may have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, but patients can feel confident that the Advisory Board takes its role seriously and is committed to improving the program.

Patrick Nightingale is the Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML. You can follow their work on Facebook and Twitter. Visit their website at http://www.pittsburghnorml.org/ and make a contribution to support their work by clicking here. 

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GOP Lawmaker: Trump Administration Pledges Non-Interference In Legal Marijuana States

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 12:09

Republican Senator Cory Gardner (CO) says that he has received a verbal commitment from President Donald Trump specifying that the administration will not take action to disrupt marijuana markets in states that legally regulate the substance.

“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” Gardner told the Associated Press. “Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.”

He added: “Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all. Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees.”

In January, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidelines directing federal prosecutors not to take action against those who were compliant with state-sanctioned cannabis regulations. In response to that decision, Rep. Gardner had vowed to block all nominees for Justice Department jobs.

On Friday, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said, Trump “does respect Colorado’s right to decide for themselves how to best approach this issue.” At a separate press conference, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the President and Sen. Gardner had spoken about the issue and that the senator’s account is “accurate.”

In response to the administration’s pledge, NORML Director Erik Altieri stated: “We applaud this commitment from President Trump, who promised during his campaign to take a federalist approach with regard to marijuana policy. That campaign promise was not reflected by Trump’s appointment of longtime marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to the position of Attorney General or any of the actions that Sessions has taken since becoming the nation’s top law enforcement officer.”

“With the President now reiterating this commitment, it is time for Congress to do its part and swiftly move forward bipartisan legislation that explicitly provides states with the authority and autonomy to set their own marijuana policies absent the fear of federal incursion. Doing so would not only follow through one of Trump’s campaign promises, but it would codify the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans.”

Senator Gardner reiterated that he and his colleagues “are continuing to work diligently on a bipartisan legislative solution (to the state/federal conflict) that can pass Congress and head to the President’s desk.”

Thirty states have enacted statutes regulating the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Nine states have passed laws regulating marijuana use by adults. By contrast, federal law defines the marijuana plant as a ‘Schedule I’ prohibited substance that lacks “currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/13/18

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 09:25

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

I first want to bring your attention to some key developments happening at the federal level. United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, introduced legislation to remove low THC hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act and amend federal regulations to better facilitate industrial hemp production, research, and commerce. Identical companion language, HR 5485, was also introduced in the House.

Additionally, the United Nations World Health Organization is due to review the current international classification of marijuana, THC, cannabidiol, and other related compounds and preparations this year. In the lead-up, the WHO is asking member nations to submit feedback. Between now and April 23rd, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comment from “interested persons” (I.E. you) regarding the international Schedule 1 Status of marijuana under international agreements. Over 8,500 NORML members have already sent in their comments.

At the state level, Governor Bill Walker of Alaska signed SB 6 into law, to establish an agricultural pilot program to permit the cultivation, production, and sale of industrial hemp by registered providers. The Pennsylvania Department of Health Medical Marijuana Advisory Board recommended adding flower (to be vaped) as a form of medication, and a Florida judge ruled that a medical cannabis patient has the right to grow his own marijuana.

South Carolina and Maryland state legislatures adjourned this week, effectively killing a SC medical marijuana bill, and a MD decriminalization expansion bill.

At a more local level, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller signed a bill into law Thursday decriminalizing the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in the city.

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

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

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

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

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

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

Rhode Island

Legalization
House Bill 7883 seeks to place a non-binding marijuana legalization question on the state’s November ballot.

The proposal question would read: “Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”

Update: The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HB 7883 on 4/10.

RI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters weigh in

Employment Protections
H 7899 seeks to protect state-registered medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

Update: The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HB 7899 on 4/12. The Committee recommended the bill be held for further study, effectively killing it for this year.

New Jersey

Legislation is pending, S2426 and A3740, to further expand the state’s medical marijuana law.

The measures provide doctors the discretion to recommend medical marijuana to any patient for whom they believe it will provide a benefit. A third proposal, S2373, is also pending to allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition.

NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting doctors decide

Louisiana

House Bill 579 seeks to expand the state’s nascent medical cannabis program.

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

Update: HB 579 was approved by the House 60-39 on 4/12, and now heads to the Senate. As amended by the House, the bill also adds Parkinson’s disease to the list of conditions eligible for cannabis therapy.

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

New Hampshire

Home Cultivation
House Bill 1476 is pending, which seeks to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use.

Update: The Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on HB 1476 on 4/12. The committee’s vote is expected as soon as next week.

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

Expungement
House Bill 1477 would permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement.

If passed, HB 1477 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 ¾ of an ounce of marijuana. The bill already passed the full House earlier this year.

Update: HB 1477 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 4/10. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate on 4/19.

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

Medical Expansion
Senate Bill 388 seeks to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis. It already passed the full Senate last month.

Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee held a public hearing on AB 388 on 4/11. and there will be an Executive Session on the bill at 10 am on 4/17 in LOB 205.

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

California

Assembly Bill 2069 seeks to strengthen employment rights for medical cannabis patients. The bill would explicitly bar employers from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

Update: The Assembly’s Labor And Employment Committee will hold a hearing on AB 2069 on 4/25 at 1:30pm, rescheduled from 4/18.

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

 

Additional Actions to Take

Hawaii

House Bill 2729 seeks to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status. It already passed the full House last month.

Update: HB 2729 passed the full Senate unanimously on 4/10, but the House disagreed with the proposed amendments.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity

Maine

Lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to amend a key provision of the state’s voter-initiated adult use marijuana law. Under existing law, adults may legally cultivate as many as six mature marijuana plants on their property. Lawmakers are suggesting halving this amount. The bill already passed the full House earlier this month.

NORML opposes this law change.

Update: Members of the Senate voted 24-10 in favor of the measure. The legislation, which would implement retail marijuana sales, in addition to making numerous other changes with regard to taxes, social clubs, and home cultivation, has enough support to override a potential veto from Gov. LePage — who opposes marijuana sales.

ME resident? Click here to email Governor LePage and urge him to veto this bill

Oklahoma

Senate Bill 1120 seeks to preemptively challenge provisions in State Question 788. SQ 788 is written in a manner to be patient-centric. The changes proposed by SB 1120 are unduly restrictive and are not in the best interest of physicians or their patients. The bill already passed the full Senate last month.

NORML endorses State Question 788 and opposes SB 1120.

Update: SB 1120 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 4/11 by a 11-5 vote.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in opposition to this effort

Illinois

Senate Bill 2298 provides for the ability for individuals to cultivate hemp with a state license even if they are not part of the state’s Agriculture Department pilot program. That program only permits hemp cultivation as part of a state-sponsored research program.

Update: SB 2298 was heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee on 4/12, and was then approved by the Committee.

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

California

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

Update: AB 3157 will be heard by the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on 4/23.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of temporary tax reductions

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

Categories: Blog Feeds

Senate Majority Leader Introduces Bi-Partisan Hemp Legalization Bill

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 11:59

United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation today to remove low THC hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act and amend federal regulations to better facilitate industrial hemp production, research, and commerce.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 allows states, not the federal government, to regulate hemp production and allocates grant funding to federally subsidize industrial hemp cultivation. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established agricultural crop.

Senator McConnell said: “Today, with my colleagues, I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which will build upon the success of the hemp pilot programs and spur innovation and growth within the industry. By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans, we can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the county.”

Senator McConnell previously shepherded federal reforms (Section 7606 of the Farm Bill) in 2014 permitting states to legally authorize hemp cultivation as part of academic research pilot programs. Over two-dozen states have established regulations permitting limited hemp cultivation under this provision. In 2017, state-licensed producers grew over 39,000 acres of hemp, up from roughly 16,000 acres in 2016.

Separate legislation, HR 3530, is currently pending in the US House of Representatives to exclude low-THC strains of cannabis grown for industrial purposes from the federal definition of marijuana. That measure has 43 co-sponsors.

To contact your members of Congress in support of this legislation, please click here!

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NORML Responds as Ex-House Speaker Signs On With Marijuana Industry Leader

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 09:43

It has been announced that former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, along with former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, have joined the Board of Advisors for Acreage Holdings, a multi-state corporation operating in the medical and recreational marijuana space. The company holds licenses for dozens of cannabis businesses in the United States.

Boehner, in comments to the press, made it clear that he has reversed his long held opposition to marijuana legalization. In an interview with Bloomberg news wire, he stated: “Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically. I find myself in that same position.”

In response to this announcement, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri issued the following statement:

“John Boehner’s evolution on marijuana legalization mirrors that of both the American public in general and Republicans specifically. Recent polling finds that over 60 percent of Americans support adult use marijuana legalization and, for the first time, this percentage includes a majority of self-identified Republicans. Allowing states the flexibility and autonomy to set their own marijuana regulatory policies is consistent with conservatives’ long-held respect for the Tenth Amendment, as well as with the party’s recent embracing of populism.”

Altieri continued, “Regardless of motive, former Speaker Boehner is still held in high regard by a large percentage of the GOP membership and voter base. We look forward to his voice joining the growing chorus calling for an end to cannabis criminalization. Anything that expedites the ability for patients to access this safe and reliable treatment alternative, and that facilitates an end to the practice of arresting otherwise law abiding citizens for the possession of a plant should be welcomed with open arms.”

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The FDA Wants To Hear From You About Marijuana Scheduling

Tue, 04/10/2018 - 08:53

…At least that’s how the public comment process works. 

This year, the United Nations World Health Organization is due to review the current international classification of marijuana, THC, cannabidiol, and other related compounds and preparations this year. In the lead-up, the WHO is asking member nations submit feedback, of which no nation is more influential than the United States.

Between now and April 23rd, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comment from “interested persons” (I.E. you) regarding the international Schedule 1 Status of marijuana under international agreements.

We have made it incredibly easy for you to make your voice heard and need you to join your voice with thousands of other NORML members in making it clear: Cannabis does not fit in a controlled substances agreement, let alone Schedule 1.

Click here to submit a comment. 

Right now, we are collecting comments and will be delivering them by hand to the FDA offices on April 23rd.

In the action alert, you will find a pre-drafted comment that we encourage you to amend and include any other important aspects you deem worthy. You can draw additional information from our Factsheets and About Marijuana pages to expand your position for these public comments.

Don’t forget, democracy is not a spectator sport. Go on record with the FDA and fill out a comment to recommend the international descheduling of marijuana NOW.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Building A Better Medical Program In Pennsylvania, One Flower At A Time

Tue, 04/10/2018 - 07:00

As a longtime Pennsylvanian, I have gotten used to the slow drudge of progress and the archaic mindset of our policymakers in this state. With that said, we did manage to pass a Medical Marijuana Law two years ago this month, though the law became a skeleton of its robust beginnings. Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act was enacted earlier this year, as the first facilities began growing, processing, and dispensing cannabis-derived products (oils, tinctures, topical, vapes, and pills). The program has seen many pitfalls in its infancy, including supply shortages, a lack of qualified doctors, and many other shortcomings yet to be addressed. But public response has been phenomenal, with nearly 30 thousand patients have registered in the program’s first few months.

Recently the Department of Health (parent to our state’s Medical Marijuana Office), announced the second round of applications for permits for growers/processors and dispensaries. Our state also made a bold move and announced that it would be one of the first states to offer permits for clinical research of medical marijuana. As a crescendo to all of that, yesterday the PA-DOH MMJ Advisory Board convened two years after the program’s inception (as was written into the law) to make recommendations to the Department of Health, its committees, and the Governor. The formation of this committee was included in the law, to act as an independent voice to meet and make recommendations periodically, composed of doctors, law enforcement, government officials, and patients advocates.

The Board’s recommendations included adding indications (to the 17 already in place), adjusting rules, and adding flower (to be vaped) as a form of medication. The addition of flower was our biggest ask of this committee. Yesterday’s proceedings were only a first step and are merely “recommendations”. The Secretary of Health has up to one year to act upon yesterday’s recommendations, and that will include the political bureaucracy of committees making recommendations as well as studying and implementing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate any of these changes in the law. This is FAR from being law, but Secretary of Health, Doctor Rachel Levine, has been a proponent of the program thus far, and we are hopeful for swift action in Harrisburg.

What will this mean for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana patients? The added indications will create a more inclusive program. The inclusion of flower to the program will provide added relief to many patients, including those with PTSD. Optimistically, this NORML Executive Director sees this as an even greater victory as it puts into place all of the instruments necessary to handle the eventual statewide LEGAL sale of recreational marijuana. Like any new idea, PA’s program has its’ faults but is growing faster than anticipated. I believe that these ongoing Advisory Board reviews are our best hope for a more perfect program for everybody. As an advocacy group, Lehigh Valley NORML will continue to push our politicians for more reform, until we get it right. In the end, we fight for the people – and the people want this reform. The patients need these reforms. And we DEMAND them!

Jeff Riedy is the Executive Director of Lehigh Valley NORML. Follow their work on Facebook and Twitter.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/6/18

Fri, 04/06/2018 - 11:37

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

I first want to bring your attention to some key developments happening at the state level. Proponents of a 2018 medical cannabis ballot measure in Utah achieved a signature milestone last week, a representative from the Lt. Governor’s Office said that officials have already validated 117,000 signatures from registered voters — more than than the 113,000 necessary to qualify for the state ballot.

Also at the state level, The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs announced plans to solicit public comment on how marijuana is classified under state law and whether any change in its classification status is warranted. The Division will solicit comments during a series of public events, known as “informal conferences,” in Newark and Trenton later this month. The Division also will accept written submissions.

At a more local level, the Albuquerque, New Mexico City Council approved a proposal to decriminalize marijuana, Portland, Oregon is using $300,000 in marijuana tax revenue to fund a public education program about safe driving, and voters in Naturita and Berthoud, Colorado approved ballot measures allowing marijuana businesses to operate.

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

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

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

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

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

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

Connecticut

House Bill 5394 is pending to develop a plan to legalize and regulate the retail sale of marijuana in the state and to provide for substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs and measures.

Update: HB 5394 was approved by the Joint Appropriations Committee by a 27-24 vote on 4/5. This marks the first time any committee in the state has ever approved an adult use legalization measure.

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

Missouri

House Bill 1488 seeks to establish provisions regarding the legalization of marijuana as well as establish certain licensing requirements.

Update: HB 1488 will be heard by the House General Law Committee on 4/10 at 5 PM or upon adjournment (whichever is later) in House Hearing Room 5.

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

New Hampshire

Senate Bill 388 is pending, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program. It already passed the full Senate last month.

The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis.

Update: The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on SB 388 on 4/11 at 11am in LOB room 206.

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

Tennessee

SB 1710 and HB 1749 would permit qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: Senator Steve Dickerson, sponsor of SB 1710, killed the bill for this year due to the lack of support from the legislature, but HB 1749 is still scheduled to be heard by the House Health Committee on 4/10.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana extracts

California

Expungement
Assembly Bill 1793 is pending, “to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.

Update: The Assembly’s Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing on AB 1793 on 4/17 at 9am.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past convictions

Employment Protections
AB 2069, to strengthen employment rights for medical cannabis patients. The bill would explicitly bar employers from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

Update: The Assembly’s Labor And Employment Committee will hold a hearing on AB 2069 on 4/18 at 1:30pm.

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

Alaska

Senate Bill 184 prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill’s intent is to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal under today’s laws, and to make it more likely that people convicted of only low-level crimes will become contributing members of society.

Update: SB 184 was approved by the Judiciary Committee and referred to the Finance Committee on 3/29.

AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of sealing past convictions

 

Other Actions to Take

Hawaii

House Bill 2729 seeks to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status. The bill already passed the full House last month.

Update: The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved HB 2729 with amendments on 4/6, and will now go before the full Senate.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity

Oklahoma

Legislation is pending, HB 3468, to create the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission, contingent upon the results of State Question 788, the statewide ballot measure that would provide patients with regulated access to medical cannabis. NORML endorses State Question 788.

Should the voters decide in favor of SQ 788, the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission would serve to address any issues related to the medical marijuana program in Oklahoma and ensure the swift implementation of the provisions outlined in SQ 788.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission

Georgia

House Bill 65 seeks to expand Georgia’s limited medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.

The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible to receive an authorization for CBD therapy to include those with post traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain. The bill also creates a study commission to review and make policy recommendations with regard to whether the state should provide in-state production and distribution of CBD products. Lawmakers failed to take action this session on separate legislation which sought to establish rules regulating CBD production and dispensing.

Update: HB 65 was approved by the House and Senate, and now awaits action from Gov. Nathan Deal.

GA resident? Click here to email Governor Deal in support of medical CBD expansion

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 282, to allow for the possession and retail sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products containing zero percent THC. Under this proposed legislation, Kansas citizens would not need to be a part of a patient registry or be diagnosed with a certain qualifying condition in order to legally possess or purchase CBD products. The bill was already passed unanimously by the Senate earlier this year, and the full House last week, with amendments.

Update: The Senate did not agree with the House’s proposed changes, so a conference committee of three members from each house were appointed to work out a version of the bill that will be satisfactory to both houses. The report from the Conference Committee is now available, and will require approval from both chambers.

KS resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD sales

California

Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions safely conduct transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

SB 930 would allow financial institutions to work with licensed cannabis businesses to issue certified checks and conduct payroll for certified California employees, pay their state and local taxes and fees while lessening the burden on local government to collect and manage large sums of cash, pay their rent, and invest in California’s economy

Update: SB 930 will be heard by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 4/18 at 1:30pm in Room 112.

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

Maryland

House Bill 698 seeks to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program. The bill would “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.” It already passed the full House last month.

Update: HB 698 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/4, and will now go to Governor Larry Hogan for his signature or veto.

MD resident? Click here to email Governor Hogan in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

Missouri

Senate Bill 547 and House Bill 2034 seek to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp.

If passed, the bills would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp. Both bills have already passed their respective chambers.

Update: A hearing is scheduled for SB 547 in the House Agriculture Policy Committee on 4/10 at 12PM or upon conclusion of morning session-whichever is later in HR 1. HB 2034 is still pending in committee in the Senate.

MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp modifications

Iowa

Senate File 2398 seeks to establish The Iowa Industrial Hemp Act. The bill would allow the Department of Agriculture to establish a research pilot program that engages in the licensed cultivation, production, and marketing of industrial hemp.

Update: SF 2398 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/4, and now awaits action in the House.

IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp research

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

Categories: Blog Feeds

NORML Chapters Continue State-Level Push for Marijuana Law Reforms

Thu, 04/05/2018 - 12:27

Since the beginning of the year, NORML Chapters throughout the country have been busy organizing lobby days for the 2018 legislative session. With the hope of reforming various aspects of their state’s marijuana policies, NORML affiliated activists have been meeting with state representatives to educate lawmakers and their staff about the advantages of ending marijuana prohibition and encourage support for over 100 pieces of legislation nationwide.

In addition to organizing more lobby days than was previously done in 2017, many NORML chapters including Delaware NORML, Denver NORML, Illinois NORML, and Lehigh Valley NORML have scheduled multiple lobby days for their 2018 legislative sessions. To date, NORML chapters have organized and/or participated in nearly 30 lobby days in 16 states. From fighting for employee protections in Colorado, Oregon and California, to pushing to expand access for patients in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and working to pass legislation to tax and regulate adult-use marijuana in Delaware, NORML chapters have been working overtime this legislative session.

Virginia

Members of Virginia NORML, led by Executive Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, have been focused on securing access and protection from prosecution for all patients since 2016. This session, their hard work finally paid off with unanimous passage of HB 1251 and SB 726 to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis oil law by removing qualifying conditions and instead allowing doctors to decide when to issue a recommendation.

“Virginia will be the first state to expand a hyper-restrictive single qualifying disorder program to include any diagnosed condition. This didn’t happen because of industry dollars or high powered lobbyists, it happened because two moms wouldn’t take “no” for an answer,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini.

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

Colorado

There’s an effort underway in Colorado to define off-duty marijuana use a legal activity under Colorado’s prohibition of legal activities as a condition of employment law. Democratic Representative Jonathan Singer is leading the effort in the House, but proponents – consisting mostly of members of Denver NORML, Colorado NORML, and Southern Colorado NORML – are working to lock down a Republican sponsor before the bill is introduced to encourage bipartisan support.

Also in Colorado, state lawmakers recently formed the first-ever statewide Cannabis Caucus to facilitate discussions on how to best address the various areas of public policy that have been impacted since voters approved the state’s marijuana legalization measure in 2012.

“This kind of caucus is something we at the national level have been looking at for quite some time,” says NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji, who’s based in Denver. “Since the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, it just made sense to have something similar at the state level.”

California

Members of California NORML are also working with state lawmakers on a bill that would bar employers from discriminating against workers because of their status as a medical marijuana patient, or a positive drug test for medical marijuana use. NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. While law-abiding and responsible adults in some states have the legal option to consume marijuana in the privacy of their homes, they still are at risk of losing their employment as a result of a positive drug test — even in instances where the use took place on weekends or after-hours.

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director of California NORML shared her thoughts on the effort: “Eleven states protect medical marijuana users’ employment rights in their laws, but not California. Cal NORML is sponsoring AB 2069, the Cannabis Worker Protections Act, to give workers in California the same right to use medical cannabis as opiates and other prescription drugs, as long as their use does not impair them on the job. Supporters can write to their representatives in favor of the bill at and join Cal NORML at our Lobby Day in Sacramento on June 4, 2018.”

Follow California NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

Maryland

Members of Maryland NORML focused their time on lobbying members of the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee in favor of HB 1264 / SB 1039 – a constitutional amendment that would put a question on this November’s ballot to let the voters decide on the issue of marijuana legalization and retail sales.

While that effort was not successful, Maryland is now in a position to expand the amount of personal possession of marijuana that is decriminalized from 10 grams to 30 grams as SB 127 continues to move forward after passing in the state Senate.

Follow Maryland NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

Delaware

Members of Delaware NORML lobbied for legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults. The Delaware Marijuana Control Act regulates and taxes marijuana in the same manner as alcohol. It allows adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and consume under 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use. It does not permit people to grow their own marijuana.

Hosting three lobby days already this year with a number on the way, Delaware is one of the states that we expect to achieve reform this decade.

Follow Delaware NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

New Orleans: Marijuana Possession Arrests Plunge Following Enactment Of Decriminalization Ordinance

Thu, 04/05/2018 - 10:54

Minor marijuana possession arrests have plunged in the city of New Orleans following the adoption of a municipal ordinance one year ago that called for fining rather than arresting low-level offenders.

According to data made available last week, just one percent of encounters between police and someone accused of possessing marijuana resulted in an arrest between June 2016 and May 2017. In prior years, over 70 percent of such encounters resulted in an arrest. In those cases, some 75 percent of those arrested were African Americans.

Under Louisiana state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are punishable by a term of incarceration of up to eight years, depending on whether the person convicted is a repeat offender.

In March of last year, members of the New Orleans city council voted 7 to 0 in favor of legislation permitting police to cite rather than arrest minor marijuana offenders (defined as those who possess 14 grams or less), including repeat offenders. First-time violators are subject to a $40 fine while subsequent offenders may face fines of up to $100. In recent years, nearly 60 municipalities in states where cannabis remains criminalized have enacted local ordinances either partially or fully decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.

According to a study published last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the enactment of recent statewide decriminalization laws has similarly resulted in a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests while having no adverse impact on youth use patterns.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Utah: Proponents Of 2018 Medical Cannabis Ballot Measure Achieve Signature Milestone

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 09:31

Proponents of a proposed 2018 medicalization initiative have gathered an estimated 160,000 signatures and appear poised to place the measure on the November ballot.

Last week, a representative from the Lt. Governor’s Office said that officials have already validated 117,000 signatures from registered voters — more than than the 113,000 necessary to qualify for the state ballot. Proponents of the measure, the Utah Patients Coalition, still have approximately two more weeks to collect additional signatures.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits qualified patients to obtain either herbal cannabis or cannabis-infused products from a limited number state-licensed dispensaries.

In recent days, both the Utah Medical Association and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have publicly opined against the measure. Nonetheless, public support in favor of the initiative remains strong, with 77 percent of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” endorsing the plan, according to a March UtahPolicy.com poll.

In 2014, Utah became the first non-medical cannabis state to explicitly permit qualified patients to possess CBD-infused products. However, that law provided no legal in-state supply source or distribution for the products. This legislative session, lawmakers approved separate legislation permitting the Department of Agriculture and Food to contract with a third party to cultivate cannabis for the purpose of manufacturing marijuana-infused oils and other related products, but only for those patients who are terminally ill.

Utah is one of at least four states where voters are anticipated to decide later this year on marijuana-related ballot proposals. Oklahoma voters will decide on June 26 whether or not to approve State Question 788 — a broad-based initiative that permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients at their sole discretion. NORML endorsed State Question 788 in January. In Michigan, proponents of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act have turned in more than 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot. State officials must certify a total of 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters. According to a March 2018 EPIC-MRA poll, and commissioned by Michigan NORML, 61 percent of voters say that they would vote ‘yes’ on the measure “if the election were held today.” In Missouri, backers of a voter initiated effort to legalize and regulate the therapeutic use and distribution of cannabis statewide have surpassed well over 200,000 signatures. Advocates must collect a total of 160,000 qualified signatures in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts by May 6, 2018 in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Studies: Marijuana Legalization Associated With Reduced Opioid Prescribing Trends

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 16:56

The enactment of marijuana legalization laws is associated with a significant reduction in the number of opioids prescribed and filled, according to a pair of studies published online today in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

In the first study, investigators from the University of Kentucky and Emory University assessed the association between medical and adult-use marijuana laws with opioid prescribing rates and spending among Medicaid enrollees. They reported:

“State implementation of medical marijuana laws was associated with a 5.88 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing. Moreover, the implementation of adult-use marijuana laws, which all occurred in states with existing medical marijuana laws, was associated with a 6.38 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing. … [T]he further reductions in opioid prescribing associated with the newly implemented adult-use marijuana laws suggest that there were individuals beyond the reach of medical marijuana laws who may also benefit from using marijuana in lieu of opioids. Our finding that the lower opioid prescribing rates associated with adult-use marijuana laws were pronounced in Schedule II opioids further suggest that reaching these individuals may have greater potential to reduce the adverse consequences, such as opioid use disorder and overdose.”

The full text of the study, “Association of Medical and Adult-Use Marijuana Laws With Opioid Prescribing for Medicaid Enrollees,” is available here.

In the second study, University of Georgia researchers evaluated the association between the enactment of medical cannabis access laws and opioid prescribing patterns under Medicare Part D. They reported:

“This longitudinal analysis of Medicare Part D found that prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year from an average of 23.08 million daily doses per year when a state instituted any medical cannabis law. Prescriptions for all opioids decreased by 3.742 million daily doses per year when medical cannabis dispensaries opened. … Combined with previously published studies suggesting cannabis laws are associated with lower opioid mortality, these findings further strengthen arguments in favor of considering medical applications of cannabis as one tool in the policy arsenal that can be used to diminish the harm of prescription opioids.”

The full text of the study, “Association Between US State Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Prescribing in the Medicare Part D Population,” is available here.

Both findings are consistent with those of numerous prior studies finding that cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, mortality, and overall prescription drug spending. A compilation of these studies is available in the NORML fact-sheet here.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/30/18

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 11:06

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

I first want to bring your attention to a key development at the federal level. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he will introduce a bill to legalize industrial hemp next month. The legislation will not only change hemp’s status under the law but will also set aside federal funds to support its cultivation.

At the state level, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has made dramatic changes to the state’s regulatory program. Changes include: reduced cost of the medical marijuana registry for patients by 50%; reduced cost for veterans, seniors, and those on disability by 90%; expanded the qualifying conditions list to include Tourette syndrome, chronic pain, and other conditions; and other much needed technical fixes.

Also at the state level, Iowa regulators offered medical cannabis dispensary licenses to five businesses, and North Dakota activists say they’ve collected more than half the signatures they need to qualify a marijuana legalization ballot measure.

At a more local level, New Orleans, Louisiana marijuana arrests are dramatically down following the enactment of an ordinance that allows police to issues summonses for low-level possession.

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

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

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

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

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

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

Connecticut

The Connecticut Legislature is considering several bills to to regulate and tax the retail sale of marijuana to adults. HB 5111 and HB 5112 are still pending in the Joint Committee on General Law, and HB 5458 died in a House committee last week.

Update: The General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee held a hearing on 3/28 on another proposal, HB 5394, to develop a plan to legalize and regulate the retail sale of marijuana in the state and to provide for substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs and measures.

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

South Carolina

Legislation is pending, H 3521 and S 212: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions. If passed, the bill would provide patients with regulated access to medical cannabis via licensed providers.

Update: The Senate Medical Affairs Committee approved S 212 on 3/29 on an 8-6 vote, after it was approved by the subcommittee on a 3-2 vote last week. H3521 was tabled after the House Medical, Military, and Public and Municipal Affairs Committee held a hearing, but the Chairman didn’t put the bill on the agenda.

SC resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

Tennessee

Medical Extracts
State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program in Tennessee.
The measure permits qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: HB 1749/SB 1710 was significantly amended at the request of the sponsor. As amended, the measure depenalizes the possession of CBD extracts by qualified patients, and also provides protections to those from out of state. It does not provide an in-state regulated supply system for CBD products. Members of the House Criminal Justice Committee approved the amended bill on 3/28.

HB 1749 will be heard by the Health Committee on 4/3, and SB 1710 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee also on 4/3.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD extracts

Medical Cannabis
Legislation is pending, HB 830 and SB 1119, to establish a medical marijuana access program.

The bill would provide qualified patients with access to cannabis therapy through licensed dispensaries or pharmacies, under the supervision of a certified practitioner. The bill would also prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient.

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

New Jersey

Legislation is pending, S2426 and A3740, to further expand the state’s medical marijuana law.

The measures provide doctors the discretion to recommend medical marijuana to any patient for whom they believe it will provide a benefit.

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

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, SB 388, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis. Currently there are only four licensed dispensaries operating across the state to serve an estimated 3,500 patients.

Update: SB 388 passed the Senate on 3/22, and now awaits action in the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee.

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

 

Additional Actions to Take

California

Legislation has been introduced by Sen. Bob Hertzberg [D], SB 930, to assist financial institutions to safely conduct transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

Update: SB 930 will be heard by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 4/18 at 1:30pm in Room 112.

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

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, HB 2729, to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. It already passed the House earlier this month.

Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status.

Update: HB 2729 will be heard by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday 3/29 at 10:50am in Conference room 211.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity

Oklahoma

HB 2913 is pending: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. If passed, this bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes. It already passed the House unanimously earlier this month.

Update: HB 2913 was approved by the Senate Agriculture and Wildlife Committee on 3/27, and is now awaiting action from the Appropriations Committee.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of a hemp pilot program

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program. It was already approved by the Senate last month.

Update: SB 263 was approved by the House on 3/28 by a 123-1 vote. It now awaits action from the Governor.

KS resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of hemp research

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

Categories: Blog Feeds

[NORML France] Pétition – Cannabis : L’amende ne changera rien, il faut réguler d’urgence!

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 07:31

Le 17 mars 2018, NORML France a lancé une pétition à l’attention d’Emmanuel MACRON, Président de la République, et de Nicole BELLOUBET, Garde des Sceaux, Ministre de la Justice. Une semaine plus tard, ce texte a déjà recueilli près de 12.000 signatures. Une première en France pour une pétition portant sur le sujet du cannabis et de ses différents usages. 

Nous devons désormais promouvoir ce texte au-delà de nos cercles d’influence, en le partageant avec le plus grand nombre de nos contacts. À l’heure où de nombreux pays avancent sur des régulations plus compréhensives quant au cannabis, le gouvernement français propose en catimini une proposition d’amende forfaitaire délictuelle qui ne résoudra aucun des problèmes liés aux mésusages et aux trafics de ce produit.

À la vue des nombreux dérèglements générés par la prohibition du cannabis depuis plus de 45 ans, la régulation de la filière cannabicole dans son ensemble devient par dessus tout primordiale pour aller vers une société plus encline au respect des droits humains fondamentaux à travers l’accès à la santé, à l’emploi et à la justice sociale.

Nos revendications sont plus que jamais  légitimes, c’est pourquoi tous les citoyens français doivent se sentir concernés par cette question. La guerre aux drogues s’est transformé en une guerre aux personnes, à la santé mais aussi et surtout à la réalité scientifique.

Unis et nombreux, nos voix ne pourront être qu’entendues et respectées, c’est pourquoi nous vous demandons de signer cette pétition tout en la diffusant le plus largement possible.

 

Le texte de notre pétition dans son intégralité :

A l’attention de d’Emmanuel MACRON, Président de la République, et de Nicole BELLOUBET, Garde des Sceaux, ministre de la Justice.

Le gouvernement a tranché : Pour l’usage de cannabis, tous les citoyens devront s’acquitter d’une amende forfaitaire délictuelle fixée à 300€. S’ils ne paient pas sous quarante jours, la somme est doublée. S’ils ont déjà été condamnés pour consommation, c’est le passage devant le juge assuré.

Monsieur le Président, vous avez été élu sur une promesse de renouveau. En septembre 2016, vous disiez n’être pas contre la légalisation, être prêt à en parler et à en débattre. Nous sommes en mars 2018, le débat n’a jamais eu lieu, et la proposition finale du gouvernement n’est qu’un vulgaire paragraphe, caché dans 82 pages de texte, quelque part entre le statut du Parquet national terroriste et la législation sur les divorces.

Le projet de loi que vous défendez est une commande politique qui continue de marginaliser les plus pauvres, de persécuter les minorités et d’affaiblir les plus faibles.

A dire vrai, il n’y a qu’en France que le sujet pose encore problème. La Norvège dépénalise, le Portugal y est depuis plus de 15 ans, l’Allemagne y réfléchit, le Royaume-Uni infléchit ses positions, la Suisse aussi. A deux heures de Paris, tout le monde peut aujourd’hui se procurer du cannabis légalement.

Aujourd’hui, les consommateurs sont déjà suffisamment incriminés. Certains parlent de “dépénalisation de fait”. C’est faux. La répression des drogues n’a jamais été aussi forte. En 2016, un usager régulier sur cinq a été interpellé. Lorsqu’il y a 220 000 interpellations chaque année, que la réponse pénale est systématique, on ne peut pas dire qu’il y a dépénalisation.

Certes, une partie non négligeable de ces interpellations se solde par de “simples” rappels à la loi. Mais comment en vouloir à un juge réaliste qui constate qu’un citoyen ne fait de mal à personne – pas même à lui-même, en vaporisant son cannabis ? La loi qui incrimine l’usage n’est pas nécessaire, la peine est disproportionnée.

Pourtant le gouvernement a décidé de punir plus. Cette amende va creuser les inégalités : Les plus aisés pourront payer pour consommer alors que les plus pauvres continueront d’être traînés devant la justice. Certains pensent qu’il s’agit d’une simple contravention, que nenni, l’usage reste un délit.

Dans le même temps, rien n’est prévu pour la réduction des risques, qui devrait être la priorité absolue du gouvernement en la matière. Aucune mesure n’est prise pour régler les vrais problèmes: ceux de la consommation des mineurs, des consommations problématiques, de la difficulté d’accès à un produit sain, de la lutte contre les trafics. Dès lors, que vaut cette proposition qui ne résout rien ?

Nous pensons que seule une modification profonde de la loi pourra vraiment changer les choses. Dès lors que l’interdit pénal demeure, les mêmes causes produisant les mêmes conséquences, le système ne changera pas et l’échec du système répressif sera de nouveau constaté.

Que dire alors de ce cercle vertueux qui s’installe partout dans le Monde ? Il faut être aveugle pour ne pas remarquer que les pays ayant adoptés des lois plus réalistes et justes sur le cannabis, connaissent aujourd’hui bénéfices économiques, réduction des consommations, augmentation de la prévention, de meilleure lutte contre les addictions.

Tous les modèles ne sont pas à suivre, il y a bien des limites dans chaque Etat. Mais il y a deux dénominateurs communs : Des centaines de milliers d’emplois créés et une réappropriation du chanvre par la population. Partout où il était hier la propriété de quelques riches trafiquants, aujourd’hui, ce sont des millions de consommateurs à travers le monde qui profitent pour leurs impôts comme pour leur santé d’un produit plus sain, moins cher, et mieux encadré.

Nous ne voulons plus d’une législation qui incrimine. Un débat national sur le sujet est aujourd’hui nécessaire. Il est temps que la question de la dépénalisation et de la régulation soit posée.

Monsieur le Président, nous sommes prêts au changement. 

Categories: Blog Feeds

Governor Murphy Of New Jersey Expands Medical Marijuana Program

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 10:28

In his ongoing effort to expand the Garden State’s medical marijuana program to be more patient-oriented, Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) has made dramatic changes to the state’s regulatory program.

Changes include: reduced cost of the medical marijuana registry for patients by 50%; reduced cost for veterans, seniors, and those on disability by 90%; expanded the qualifying conditions list to include Tourette syndrome, chronic pain, and other conditions; and other much needed technical fixes.

These changes have been long advocated for by advocates in New Jersey, including South Jersey NORML leader, Temple University Professor, and Philly.com contributor Chris Goldstein.

Click here to tweet at Gov. Murphy and thank him for his efforts.

New Jersey resident? Visit http://www.normlnj.org/ and get plugged into the Facebook organizing group by clicking here.

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Michigan NORML Releases Candidate Questionnaire

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 19:00

Michigan NORML is pleased to announce the launch of our 2018 Candidate Questionnaire. The survey asks nine questions relating to cannabis and provides an additional space for candidates to make a personal statement on this issue. The results are posted on our website and will be utilized by our visitors to inform them about each candidate’s views on cannabis. All candidates that respond will be featured on our Candidate Profiles page with their complete response and links to their websites.

The format asks yes or no questions but provides space for candidates to elaborate on their answers.

We asked tough questions and frankly, a simple yes or no seemed inadequate. We want candidates to participate, but we felt the “gotcha” yes or no format hindered them from doing so. We believe the written option enables candidates to articulate the nuances of their positions and that seemed fair to them and our visitors.”

Michigan NORML is a non-partisan organization and we welcome candidates regardless of party affiliation, seeking any office from Township Trustee to Governor, to give us an honest report of your views toward cannabis. This tool was created to highlight individuals, not parties, and the only mention we make of party is on our main profile page where each candidate is listed.

Part of our mission and education here is no better way to educate than to ask candidates directly and broadcast their unfiltered responses directly to the public.”

Another response just came in… I have to split.

Brad Forrester is the Michigan NORML Director of Social Media. You can visit their website at https://minorml.org/ and follow them on Facebook and Twitter

Make a contribution to support their efforts by clicking here. 

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/23/18

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 11:09

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

I first want to bring your attention to a key development at the federal level. As a part of the newly proposed appropriations package known as an omnibus bill, a spending restriction upon the Department of Justice from prosecuting state-legal medical marijuana programs will remain in place through the end of September. Known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, it explicitly states that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

At the state level, lawmakers in Colorado have formed the first-ever statewide Cannabis Caucus to address issues such as social consumption, product testing, and the use of medical cannabis on public campuses. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb (R) signed a bill legalizing CBD sales into law. And Ohio regulators started accepting applications from physicians who want to be certified to recommend medical cannabis. Sales are expected to begin this fall.

Also at the state level, legalization bills died in committees in Connecticut and New Hampshire, as did a Maryland bill to let the voters decide on legalization.

At a more local level, voters in Cook County, Illinois — the nation’s second-most-populous county — overwhelmingly approved a marijuana legalization ballot measure. And Denver, Colorado is spending $1.2 million in marijuana tax revenue to repave roads.

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

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

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

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

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

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

Maryland

SB 127 would expand the state’s decriminalization law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense. Under current law, the possession of more than ten grams of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Update: SB 127 was approved by the Senate on 3/19 by a 36-11 vote. Amendments approved by the Senate includes a provision “prohibiting a driver of a motor vehicle from smoking or consuming marijuana in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a highway; prohibiting an occupant of a motor vehicle from smoking marijuana in the passenger area of the motor vehicle on a highway.”

SB 127 will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on 4/3 at 1pm.

MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an expanded decriminalization law

Tennessee

Medical Marijuana
Senator Sara Kyle (D) and Representative Larry Miller have introduced legislation SB 2320 and HB 2391 seeking to place a ballot initiative before voters with regard to the legalization of medical marijuana.

If passed, these bills would place the following advisory question on the November 2018 ballot: Should the Tennessee legislature approve the use of medical marijuana?

Update: SB 2320 was put on the calendar for The Senate State & Local Government Committee for 3/27/18, and HB 2391 was put on the Local Government subcommittee calendar for 3/28/18.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters decide

Medical Marijuana Extracts
State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to permit qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/28. The committee has amended the bill significantly to require patients seeking to use medical cannabis to obtain a prescription from a doctor. Because marijuana is categorized as a schedule I controlled substance, it remains unlikely that many physicians would ‘prescribe’ it, even if this legislation was signed into law. Therefore, the proposal’s language ought to be amended to read ‘recommend’ rather than prescribe.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of amending this bill

Arizona

Legislation is pending, HB 2064, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence. It already passed the House earlier this month.

The bill was originally intended only to ban dispensaries from selling edibles in packaging that could be appealing to children, but an amendment to the bill would also add opioid use disorder to the list of medical conditions that can legally be treated with medical marijuana.

Update: HB 2064 was approved by the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee on 3/13, and now awaits action from the Rules Committee.

AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of adding opioid abuse to the qualifying conditions list

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 282, to allow for the possession and retail sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products containing zero percent THC. It was already approved by the Senate unanimously last month.

While such products are often used in other states for therapeutic purposes, under this proposed legislation, Kansas citizens would not need to be a part of a patient registry or be diagnosed with a certain qualifying condition in order to legally possess or purchase CBD products.

Update: SB 282 was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee on 3/16.

KS resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, HB 1477, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement. It was already approved by the House last month.

If passed, HB 1477 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 ¾ of an ounce of marijuana.

Update: HB 1477 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/27 at 9:45am in SH room 100.

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

Alaska

Senator Tom Begich has introduced legislation, SB 184, to seal the convictions of past marijuana possession offenders.

Senate Bill 184 prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill’s intent is to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal under today’s laws, and to make it more likely that people convicted of only low-level crimes will become contributing members of society.

Update: SB 184 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/28 at 1:30 pm in BELTZ 105 (TS Bldg).

AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of sealing past convictions

 

Additional Actions to Take

Arizona

Republican State Senator Sonny Borrelli has introduced Senate Bill 1420, which seeks to enhance quality testing practices for medical marijuana products. If passed, this bill would improve product testing procedures and requirements, leading to an increase in product quality for patients. After passing the Senate last month, it was heard and passed by the House Military, Veterans and Regulatory Affairs Committee last week.

Update: SB 1420 was heard and then approved by the House Appropriations Committee on 3/21.

AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of better testing practices

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program. It was already passed by the Senate last month, and heard by the House Committee on Agriculture last week.

Update: SB 263 was approved by the House Committee on Agriculture on 3/20. A vote by the full House is expected in the upcoming weeks.

KS resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp research

Oklahoma

Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens has introduced HB 2913: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. If passed, this bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes.

Update: HB 2913 passed the House by a 92-0 vote on earlier this month, and now awaits action in the Senate Appropriations committee.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

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

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