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NORML Blog

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 6, 2015

    California: Governor Signs Law Expanding Medical Marijuana Patients' RightsDemocrat Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation today, Assembly Bill 258, to allow medical marijuana patients to receive organ transplants. 

    Hospitals in California and elsewhere have denied patients from receiving organ transplants solely based on their status as medicinal marijuana consumers. Assembly Bill 258 reads, “A hospital, physician and surgeon, procurement organization, or other person shall not determine the ultimate recipient of an anatomical gift based solely upon a potential recipient’s status as a qualified patient, as defined in Section 711362.7, or based solely upon a positive test for the use of medical marijuana by a potential recipient who is a qualified patient.” 

    Passage of AB 258 ends these discriminatory practices in California.

    The new law takes effect on January 1, 2016.

    According to a study published in the American Journal of Transplantation, marijuana use by patients undergoing transplants does not adversely impact survival rates.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel

    Oregon has now joined the growing list of states that have fully legalized marijuana.

    In November of 2014 the voters of Oregon approved Measure 91, with 56 percent of the vote, ending marijuana prohibition and legalizing recreational use. Under the terms of that initiative, marijuana officially became legal in Oregon last week, on July 1, 2015, allowing adults to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana in the home and up to one ounce outside the home; and to cultivate up to four plants per household, out of public view.

    The state has until Jan. 1, 2016 to issue regulations regarding the issuance of licenses to commercially cultivate and sell recreational marijuana, and retail outlets are expected to be open by late 2016. In an attempt to provide a legal supply of recreational marijuana more quickly, the legislature just approved a proposal that will permit the existing legal medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling marijuana to recreational users on as Oct. 1, 2015. It is great to see the state legislature make a special effort to implement the will of the voters in a timely manner.

    The Smell of Freedom

    On the eve of the end of marijuana prohibition in Oregon, Portland NORML organized a midnight celebration (and seed give-away, now legal in Oregon) on Burnside Bridge, under the iconic Portland, Oregon sign, where thousands of celebrants exercised their First Amendment rights, and lit-up en masse, as the clock struck midnight. The Portland police were present but allowed those gathered to enjoy this moment in history and made no arrests for public smoking, despite the huge cloud of marijuana smoke rising from the bridge. It seemed like an appropriate way to celebrate the end of prohibition in Oregon.

    Portland NORML Executive Director Russ Belville issued a statement thanking the police for exercising discretion and not hassling the celebrants, and making it clear the job of legalizers is not yet complete in Oregon. “We have achieved legalization. Now we seek equalization. We will not stop until we have the same rights as beer drinkers and cigar smokers,” Belville said, noting marijuana consumers still need protection from job discrimination, so they don’t lose their jobs for marijuana smoking, unless they come to work in an impaired condition; protection for parental rights, so marijuana smokers are no longer presumed to be unfit parents, without evidence of abuse or neglect; and protection of Second Amendment rights, so smokers do not lose their right to own guns.

    Oregon now joins Colorado, Washington, Alaska and the District of Columbia as states in which marijuana is fully legal. It is no longer contraband, nor can the smell of marijuana any longer be used as probable cause to search a vehicle, or to obtain a search warrant to search a person’s home. Legalizing marijuana accomplishes more than simply making it legal for us to smoke; it returns basic Constitutional protections to those of us who smoke marijuana responsibly.

    And the Oregon model is, for the moment, the most progressive of the first few legalization laws, in terms of the quantity of marijuana products permitted. In addition to the eight ounces and four plants permitted in the home, it covers all forms of marijuana, including edibles and tinctures, allowing an individual to legally possess up to one pound of solid edibles, 72 ounces of infused liquids, and one ounce of concentrates or extracts. That should satisfy even the most enthusiastic users.

    Oregon Measure 91

    It is especially heartening to see the state legislature now building on the voter-approved legalization by enacting legislation to undo some of the damage previously inflicted by marijuana prohibition. On July 2nd Governor Kate Brown signed HB 3400 into law, reducing most marijuana offenses that remain on the books from a felony to a misdemeanor, and providing for many prior marijuana convictions to be set aside, sentences reduced, and records sealed. An estimated 78,000 marijuana convictions may be eligible for reduced sentencing or to be set-aside altogether under this latest legislation.

    By taking care to provide relief to those citizens previously convicted of marijuana offenses no longer considered criminal, Oregon has shown the way for adopting legalization in a fair manner. And it will hopefully encourage legislators in the remaining legal states to adopt similar provisions. One should not be burdened with a criminal conviction for an offense that has since been legalized, and we have an ethical obligation to do what we can to minimize the damage done to so many of our fellow-smokers during prohibition. As Belville said in his release, our work is far from done with the adoption of basic legalization; now we seek to be treated in a fair manner in all aspects of our lives, and to end all discrimination based on our use of marijuana.

     

    http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2015/07/legalization-arrives-in-oregon-its-the-smell-of-freedom/

     

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 2, 2015

    Police in Florida’s largest county will soon have the option to cite, rather than arrest, minor marijuana offenders.

    Commissioners for Miami-Dade county voted 10 to 3 this week in favor of a countywide ordinance to treat marijuana possession offenses involving 20 grams or less as a civil infraction, punishable by a $100 fine — no arrest, no criminal prosecution, no incarceration, and no criminal record. The new ordinance takes effect late next week.

    Under state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. According to an analysis by the ACLU, an estimated 60,000 Floridians are arrested for cannabis possession violations annually — the third highest statewide total in the nation.

    According to a countywide analysis by CBS, misdemeanor marijuana arrests accounted for 10 percent of all cases filed in the Miami-Dade criminal court system between the years 2010 and 2014. While African Americans comprise just 20 percent of the county’s population, they comprised over half of all of those arrested for marijuana possession offenses.

    Senior county officials have not yet provided details in regard to how police will implement the new law or what criteria they will use to determine whether to issue a citation or make an arrest.

    Several metropolitan areas, such as Milwaukee and Philadelphia, have previously decriminalized marijuana possession offenses citywide.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 30, 2015

    Oregon: Law Takes Effect Permitting Adults To Consume CannabisLegislation takes effect at midnight tonight permitting adults to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use.

    Fifty-six percent of state voters approved Measure 91 in November, which allows those over the age of 21 to legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis and/or to engage in the non-commercial cultivation of up to four marijuana plants (yielding up to eight ounces of marijuana). The law also permits adults to possess up to a pound of cannabis-infused edibles, 72 ounces of cannabis-infused liquids, and/or one ounce of marijuana concentrates.

    Separate regulations allowing for the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis have yet to be finalized by lawmakers. Legislation is under consideration to permit adults to temporarily purchase cannabis from state-licensed medical dispensaries as soon as the fall.

    State-licensed retailers are not anticipated to be operational until mid-to-late 2016.

    (In the interim, Portland NORML and others are engaging in seed giveaways tonight and tomorrow.)

    Oregon is the fourth state – joining Alaska, Colorado, and Washington – to permit adults to legally possess limited quantities of marijuana for their own personal use. The District of Columbia also allows adults to possess and grow marijuana legally.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    Louisiana: Marijuana Sentencing Reform Measure Signed Into LawRepublican Gov. Bobby Jindal signed legislation late yesterday significantly reducing criminal penalties for marijuana possession offenses.

    House Bill 149, which took effect upon signing, amends the state’s toughest-in-the-nation repeat offender laws for marijuana possession offenses.

    Under the previous law, second-time possession offenders faced up to five years of hard labor in prison. Third-time offenders faced up to 20 years hard labor in prison.

    Under the revised law, two-time marijuana possession offenders face a maximum sentence of six-months in prison. Three-time offenders face a maximum sentence of two-years in prison. Those convicted of marijuana possession for a fourth time face up to eight years in prison.

    First-time offenders found in the possession of 14 grams of cannabis or less now face a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail (reduced from six-months). House Bill 149 allows offenders to apply to have their record expunged if they aren’t convicted of a marijuana violation within two years of the first offense.

    According to an analysis by the ACLU, Louisiana ranks #14 in the nation in per-capita marijuana possession arrests.

    Gov. Jindal also signed separate legislation, SB 143, amending the state’s dormant Therapeutic Research Act. Specifically, the measure asks the state to adopt rules and regulations “relating to the dispensing of prescribed marijuana for therapeutic use” for patients with glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, or who are undergoing cancer chemotherapy. However, because this language directly conflicts with federal regulations prohibiting doctors from ‘prescribing’ schedule I controlled substances, it remains to be seen whether any licensed Louisiana physicians will agree to participate in the state’s proposed program.

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