• Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/3/2017


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    Welcome to this week’s edition of the NORML legislative roundup!

    At the state level, we have updated or added 23 Action Alerts this week as the total number of pieces of legislation introduced nationwide that pertain to marijuana has now topped 1,400.

    Federally, the developments just keep on coming, furthering the confusion and disarray at the Department of Justice and the marijuana policy objectives of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    AG Sessions has articulated alternative facts in regards to marijuana and violence and opioids and has yet to say what “increased enforcement” means. Yet a staffer at the DoJ did say that the “The department’s current policy is reflected in the 2013 Cole Memo,” referring to the Obama policy.

    Additionally, 11 Senators sent a letter to the Attorney General that stated “It is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the DOJ that it will respect the ability of states to enforce thoughtful, sensible drug policies in ways that do not threaten the public’s health and safety,” the senators wrote. “This ensures that state infrastructure, including tax revenue, small businesses, and jobs, can be protected; DOJ resources can be used most effectively; and most importantly, that marijuana can be properly regulated to improve public health and safety.”

    Conveniently, the “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” was reintroduced this week in the House of Representatives. Email your Representative to sign onto the bill and support it now by clicking here.

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

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

    Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
    Justin

    Priority Bills

    Federal
    NEW: 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 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 email your Congressional Representative to urge them to support this crucial legislation.

    Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

    Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the newly formed Cannabis Caucus

    States Rights: Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

    HR 975 states, ‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’

    Click here to email your Congressional Representative to urge them to support this crucial legislation.

    Arkansas
    Legislative efforts are pending to amend the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana law in a manner that would restrict qualified patients from smoking herbal preparations of the plant. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson indicates that he favors the plan.

    Update: The Senate version of this bill, SB 357, has passed Committee and now awaits action on the Senate floor.

    AR Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to oppose this legislation.

    Connecticut
    Multiple pieces of legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate its commercial distribution is pending in both the state House and Senate.

    Update: Lawmakers have scheduled a pair of hearings in March to debate these various legalization proposals. Members of the Public Health Committee will hear testimony on Tuesday, March 7. Members of the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on Wednesday, March 22.

    CT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Iowa
    Senate legislation is pending, SF 280, to reduce penalties involving the possession of five grams of marijuana or less.

    If passed, the measure would classify first time offenses from a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, to a simple misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 30 days in jail and a $625 fine.

    Update: Members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee passed the measure to the full Committee on February 28.

    IA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Tennessee
    Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, are sponsoring the legislature’s most concerted effort to legalize medical use of marijuana.

    Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine.

    TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Vermont
    Rep. Samuel Young has introduced H. 490 to regulate the commercial and retail marijuana market.

    H. 490 establishes a regulated system whereby adults may legally obtain marijuana from state-licensed retail providers and sellers.

    VT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Virginia
    Senator David Marsden has introduced a bill to re-approve a previously passed act that will regulate the instate production of cannabis oil for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.

    Update: SB1027 has been passed unanimously by both the House (99-0) and Senate (38-0) and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law or vetoed. The Governor’s Action deadline is midnight on March 27.

    VA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Additional Actions To Take

    Arizona
    Legislation is pending, SB 1337, to permit for the licensed production of industrial hemp.

    The proposal redefines hemp as a legal agricultural product and finds, “[T]he development and use of industrial hemp can improve the economy.”

    Update: SB 1337 passed in the Senate with a vote of 26-4 and is being transmitted to the House.

    AZ Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    California
    Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws.

    The bill states, “This bill would prohibit a state or local agency, as defined, from taking certain actions without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”

    Update: AB 1578 may be heard in committee on March 21.

    CA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Kansas
    Legislation is pending before lawmakers, SB 155, to establish regulations governing a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

    SB 155 would permit qualified patients to grow their own medical marijuana or to obtain it from a licensed dispensary, while also educating physicians who seek to recommend cannabis therapy.

    Update: A hearing was held to debate and discuss SB 155 on February 20.

    KS Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Missouri
    Legislation has been introduced in the House, HB 1095, to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate the commercial cannabis market.

    The measure permits adults to legally possess up to 35 grams of marijuana and/or to cultivate up to six marijuana plants. Adults may legally possess the total yield from those plants.

    MO Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    New Mexico
    State Representatives Bill McCamley and Javier Martinez introduced HB 89, the Cannabis Revenue & Freedom Act to regulate the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana in the state. Companion legislation, SB 278, introduced by Sen. Gerald Ortiz, is also pending in the Senate.

    Update: Members of the House Business and Industry Committee voted 9-1 on Monday, February 27, to defeat House Bill 89. SB 278 is still awaiting a vote in the Senate.

    NM Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Additionally, Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 258, to reduce penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses.

    The measure eliminates criminal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one-half of one ounce of cannabis, reducing the offense to a $50 fine. Under present law, this offense is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 15 days in jail and criminal record.

    Update: A Senate substitute version of SB 258 was passed 33 to 9 by members of the Senate. The amended version of the bill now awaits action by the House.  

    NM Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    South Dakota
    Two bills are pending in South Dakota that provide various protections for medical marijuana users in South Dakota. SB 95 and SB 157 do not establish a South Dakota program, but protect those individuals who are prescribed medical marijuana in another state.

    SB 95 removes cannabidiol from schedule I and places it in schedule IV. Furthermore, it excludes cannabidiol entirely from the definition of marijuana.

    SB 157 protects patients that possess marijuana while they have a valid medical card from another state. The measure “covers patients who have moved to Colorado… or another legal state and done their due diligence for being prescribed medical marijuana.”

    Update: Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee removed the FDA provision from SB 95 and passed it 7 to 3 on March 2.

    SD Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Tennessee
    Legislation is pending in the Tennessee House, HB 173, to nullify the enactment of citywide marijuana decriminalization ordinances and to prevent additional municipalities from enacting similar marijuana reform measures.

    The intent of the bill is to override the passage of recent citywide measures in Nashville and Memphis — both of which passed local ordinances last year making minor marijuana possession offenses a non-arrestable citation.

    Update: HB 173 has been passed out of subcommittee and now awaits action by the full House Criminal Justice Committee.

    TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to oppose this legislation.

    Additionally, Several pieces of legislation are pending to amend marijuana possession penalties.

    HB 831 and SB 1116 seek to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

    Update: SB 1116 has a hearing scheduled for March 7.

    TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Texas
    State Senator Jose Menendez has filed Senate Bill 269, currently making its way through committee, to protect qualified patients who consume cannabis and to provide for the state-licensed production and distribution of the plant.

    Update: A bipartisan House version of SB269 to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Texas has just been introduced by Representative Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, titled HB 2107.

    TX Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Washington
    Legislation is before lawmakers, House Bill 2064, to amend state law so that industrial hemp is not longer classified under the state’s uniform controlled substances act.

    If passed, hemp plants will no longer be regulated as a controlled substance.

    Update: HB 2064 has unanimously passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.

    WA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

    Wisconsin
    Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) introduced a pair of bills seeking to provide qualified patients with legal access to medical cannabis. The first bill establishes a statewide medical marijuana program, while the second bill would poll voters’ attitudes on the issue in the form of a nonbinding statewide referendum.

    Update: The first bill, SB 38, had been introduced to the Senate and referred to committee.

    WI Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this legislation.

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  • Online Debate: NORML Versus Project SAM

    personal_cultivationThe Asbury Park Press and other Gannett newspaper affiliates published a fairly extensive online debate on Sunday between myself and Project SAM co-founder Kevin Sabet under the header “Should We Make Marijuana Legal?”

    I respond to numerous alarmist claims throughout the interview, including allegations that regulating the adult use of cannabis send s mixed message to youth, leads to increased use by young people, that cannabis is a gateway drug, and even the notion that marijuana prohibitionists are out-funded by reform advocates (as if)!

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Gov. Christie, who has consistently opposed legalization of marijuana, contends pot is a so-called gateway drug, that people who use pot will eventually graduate to harder, more dangerous substances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it hasn’t found a definitive answer on that question yet. What is your position and what are the most definitive studies you can cite to bolster it?

    Armentano: It is time for politicians to put to rest the myth that cannabis is a gateway to the use of other controlled substances — a theory that is neither supported by modern science or empirical data.

    More than 60 percent of American adults acknowledge having tried cannabis, but the overwhelming majority of these individuals never go on to try another illicit substance. And by the time these individuals reach age 30, most of them have significantly decreased their cannabis use or no longer indulge in the substance at all. Further, nothing in marijuana’s chemical composition alters the brain in a manner that makes users more susceptible to experimenting with other drugs. That’s why both the esteemed Institute of Medicine and the RAND Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center conclude, “Marijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation.”

    By contrast, a growing body of evidence now exists to support the counter notion that, for many people, cannabis serves as a path away from the use of more dangerous substances — including opioids, alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine and tobacco.

    You can read and comment on the entire online debate here.

    If you are a New Jersey resident, you can also take action in support of marijuana law reform in the Garden State here.

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  • Las Vegas NORML Ramps up Advocacy Efforts

    1294bbf7-8ed0-450d-9f98-5f7fd0090ae4With state lawmakers in Nevada quickly approaching their fast-tracked deadline of July 1st to implement the state’s new adult-use marijuana program, NORML is focused on ramping up our activism efforts in Las Vegas!

    Over the past two months, we’ve been busy planning, attending legislative hearings, tabling at events, doing community outreach, volunteering at our local community garden, and more to get the word out about our new chapter, and post-legalization activism in Las Vegas.

    So far during the 2017 legislative session, there have been several key pieces of legislation introduced. One of the most important bills that we’re currently pushing is Senator Tick Segerblom’s SB 329, which would safeguard many protections for marijuana patients and the legal marijuana industry. These protections include re-establishing patient grow rights, allowing medical marijuana research facilities, allowing marijuana establishments to be organized as a corporation, and adds PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

    Another important piece of legislation that we’re watching closely is SB 236; if adopted by lawmakers, this legislation would permit social use marijuana clubs across Nevada. With the issue of social marijuana consumption quickly becoming a main issue for marijuana advocates in post-legalization states, Las Vegas NORML believes this legislation would be the first step in providing marijuana consumers with a safe and legally defined space to responsibly consume their legally purchased marijuana.

    To learn more, join us for our next meeting on Tuesday, May 23rd where we’ll discuss the various pieces of marijuana-related legislation in Nevada! Get involved and invite your friends!

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    Creating a Space for Marijuana Activism

    We’re at a crucial time in the legislative session, so we need our members and supporters to speak-up for Nevada marijuana consumers by urging their representatives to support marijuana-related legislation. To help facilitate this, Las Vegas NORML has organized a postcard writing party! This will give everyone a chance to share their personal stories and reasons why they support marijuana legislation with their lawmakers.

    We also have two guest speakers from Nevada’s marijuana industry that will be joining us: DB Labs and Sahara Wellness. DB Labs will be educating our members on marijuana testing in Nevada, and Sahara Wellness will be sharing their story of helping patients in the community. Plus we’ll have event sign-ups, membership packages, legislative updates, and even FREE SNACKS! Who can say no to that?

    Be sure to RSVP using our Facebook Event Page, and invite all of your friends in Las Vegas!

    For more information on Las Vegas NORML, please find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or email us at LasVegasNORMLchapter@gmail.com.

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