Loading

NORML Blog

  • by NORML April 24, 2018

    We are pleased to release our 2018 Gubernatorial Scorecard. This extensive database assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to states’ governors based upon their comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.

    KEY FINDINGS

    • Twenty-four US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (14 Democrats, 9 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
    • Of these, only two US governors, both Democrats, received an ‘A’ grade
    • Fifteen governors received a ‘B’ grade (9 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
    • Seven governors received a ‘C’ grade (4 Republicans and 3 Democrats)
    • Nineteen governors received a ‘D’ grade (18 Republicans and 1 Democrat)
    • Four governors received a failing ‘F’ grade (All Republicans)
    • Three governors received no grade because of insufficient data
    • Of the 31 Republican US governors receiving a letter grade, only nine of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (34 percent)
    • Of the 15 Democratic US governors receiving a letter grade, 14 of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (93 percent)

    Commenting on the results, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated, “While federal officials tend to receive most of the scrutiny in the fight for marijuana law reform, it is not just members of Congress who deserve our attention. In fact, with the majority of marijuana-related campaigns decided on the state level, it is our nation’s governors who often hold the key to our success or failure.”

    Similar to the findings of NORML’s 2016 Governors Scorecard, this gubernatorial analysis once again affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are typically more progressive than the views held by the highest elected officials in their states – only 48 percent of whom received a passing grade from NORML. For example, while 64 percent of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only two Governors are public in their support of this position. Governors overall are also far less supportive of legislation to legalize the medical use of cannabis than are their constituents – more than 90 percent of whom back these type of reform measures.

    Also evident is that gubernatorial support for marijuana law reform often falls upon partisan lines. While 93 percent of Democratic governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher, fewer than 40 percent of Republican governors did so. Further, nearly all of the governors who received either a ‘D’ or a failing grade from NORML are Republicans. Conversely, both of the governors who received a ‘A’ grade from NORML are Democrats. This partisanship lies largely in contrast to voters’ sentiments, as the public tends to view many aspects of marijuana law reform, such as the regulation of medicinal cannabis, as non-partisan issues. (For example, according to 2017 Quinnipiac polling, 90 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of Democrats, and 96 percent of Independents favor “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”)

    Altieri continued: “Voters need to push current governors and 2018 gubernatorial candidates to take a proactive and positive stance on marijuana policy. Constituents must let their governors know that holding positions on marijuana legalization that are of step with the will of state voters will cost them at the ballot box, and that embracing sensible reform policies will increase their support among voters.”

    He added: “Look to New Jersey as an example. The exit of anti-drug zealot Chris Christie and the election of pro-legalization Phil Murphy has changed the entire tenor of the debate. Already, the state is moving to expand and reinforce their long suffering medical marijuana program and his very election catapulted the topic of full legalization to the top of this year’s legislative priorities list.”

    To read NORML’s full report, please visit: http://norml.org/us-governors

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director April 23, 2018

    NORML today hand-delivered over 10,000 written comments from US citizens calling on federal and international agencies to amend the international prohibition of cannabis. The public comments, which were requested earlier this month by the US Food and Drug Administration, will be considered as part of the World Health Organization’s ongoing review of the plant’s international classification.

    Under international treaties, the marijuana plant is classified in the most restrictive schedules available for controlled substances. NORML maintains that this scheduling does not accurately reflect the plant’s widespread therapeutic acceptance and relatively low abuse potential.

     

    The United National’s international prohibition of cannabis is a relic from a bygone era. This decision, which was largely a political one made over 50 years ago, does not accurately reflect either the available science or the rapidly changing political and cultural status of cannabis worldwide.

    Members of NORML’s Board of Directors also submitted their own written testimony to the FDA, opining: “In general, the safety, dependence, and usage profile of cannabis compares favorably to alcohol, tobacco, and other unscheduled substances. For this reason, NORML believes that cannabis [ultimately] should be withdrawn from the treaty framework entirely.”

    As of 1pm EST on April 23rd, there are only 6,566 comments submitted through the federal site. With the comments by NORML members, we will have submitted 61% of all public comments should that number hold.

    Background per Regulations.gov:

    The United States is a party to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances (Psychotropic Convention). Article 2 of the Psychotropic Convention provides that if a party to the convention or WHO has information about a substance, which in its opinion may require international control or change in such control, it shall so notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations (the U.N. Secretary-General) and provide the U.N. Secretary-General with information in support of its opinion.

    Paragraph (d)(2)(A) of the CSA (21 U.S.C. 811) (Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970) provides that when WHO notifies the United States under Article 2 of the Psychotropic Convention that it has information that may justify adding a drug or other substances to one of the schedules of the Psychotropic Convention, transferring a drug or substance from one schedule to another, or deleting it from the schedules, the Secretary of State must transmit the notice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary of HHS). The Secretary of HHS must then publish the notice in the Federal Register and provide opportunity for interested persons to submit comments that will be considered by HHS in its preparation of the scientific and medical evaluations of the drug or substance.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate April 20, 2018

    Welcome to the 4/20 edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    Today’s the day. The High Holy Day for cannabis consumers everywhere. Happy Holidaze, my people! Check out all the 4/20 events happening around the country, and remember to be safe and smoke responsibly!

    There have been lots of significant developments in the marijuana space recently, specifically at the federal level. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced his intention to sponsor a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

    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 it. Also, Senator Bernie Sanders signed on as a co-sponsor of The Marijuana Justice Act. Yesterday,  Sen. Sanders joined Senator Cory Booker on a live stream for a conversation about ending prohibition and co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act.

    Additionally, legislation was introduced this week to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

    At the state level, Pennsylvania’s health secretary approved a recommendation from the medical cannabis law Advisory Board to allow sales of medical cannabis in flower form and to add new qualifying conditions to the list. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill into law that includes expungement for prior marijuana convictions. And unfortunately, South Dakota’s secretary of state rejected a proposed medical cannabis ballot measure because there were not enough valid signatures in a random sample.

    At a more local level, Los Angeles, California’s top marijuana regulator said the city is considering allowing consumption lounges, and Denver, Colorado’s mayor is proposing raising the city’s marijuana sales tax from 3.5% to 5.5% to fund affordable housing.

    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

    Louisiana

    House Bill 274 seeks to entirely decriminalize the possession and distribution of marijuana, contingent on the creation of a sales tax system that would regulate the legal sale of marijuana.

    Update: HB 274 was heard by the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on 4/17.

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

    Maine

    Legislation is pending, LD 1539, to greatly expand patients’ access to medical cannabis. Among changes proposed by the bill: Physicians would be able, at their sole discretion, to recommend cannabis therapy to any patient for whom they think it would benefit; Caregivers would be able to manage more than five patients at one time; Regulators would increase the total number of licensed dispensaries from eight to 14.

    Update: The Senate voted 25-10 to pass LD 1539 on 4/18, and it now heads to Governor LePage for his signature or veto. He has 10 days to act on the bill, but is expected to veto it.

    ME resident? Click here to email Governor LePage in support of expanding the medical marijuana program

    South Carolina

    Legislation is pending, H 3521: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions.

    Update: The House Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs held a hearing on H 3521 on 4/19, and then approved the bill by a 14-3 vote.

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

    New Hampshire

    Senate Bill 388 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: SB 388 was unanimously approved by the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on 4/18, after holding a public hearing and then an executive session on the bill.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the medical marijuana program

    California

    Assembly Bill 1793 would “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 unanimously approved AB 1793 on 4/17 after a hearing was held. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

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

    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: The House of Representatives approved similar legislation by a 30-10 vote on 4/15, HB 316, which restricts the release of certain records of convictions to the public. The bill now heads to the Senate.

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

    Hawaii

    House Bill 2729, 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.

    Update: The Senate approved HB 2729 with amendments on 4/10, but the House disagreed with the proposed amendments. Both Chambers will have to work to come up with a satisfactory compromise.

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

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    Oklahoma

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

    Update: HB 2913 was approved by the Senate by a 39-1 vote on 4/16, and now awaits action by Governor Mary Fallin.

    OK resident? Click here to email Gov. Fallin in support of industrial hemp research

    Missouri

    Senate Bill 547 seeks to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp. It 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.

    Update: SB 547 was approved by the House Rules Legislative Oversight Committee on 4/18 after holding an executive session. It’s on the calendar to be considered by the full House on 4/23.

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

    Iowa

    Senate File 2398 would 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. SF 2398 was already unanimously approved by the Senate earlier this month.

    Update: The House Ways and Means Subcommittee approved SF 2398 on 4/11.

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

    California

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

    Update: SB 930 was unanimously approved by the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 4/18 after a public hearing was held.

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

    That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates, and I wish everyone the happiest 4/20!

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director April 19, 2018

    In a video tweet posted on Vice News, Leader Schumer says:

    “I’ll be introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, from one end of the country to the other.”

    With this announcement, Senator Schumer has effectively made it clear that a legislative priority for the Democratic Party is to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. As Democratic Leader, it is his role to ensure that the caucus as a whole falls in line with this public policy position — a position that is held by more than 60 percent of Americans.

    This legislative relief must come sooner rather than later. Over 600,000 Americans, a disproportionate percentage of which are black, brown, young, and poor, are arrested for violating marijuana laws annually. These people bear the greatest burden and lifelong consequences of this ongoing failed federal policy, and it is time for Congressional leaders to take a stand to right these past wrongs.

    Vice reports: “The legislation, which his office expects will be released within the next week, has six main points. First, it would remove marijuana from Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances, which would end federal prohibition and leave it up to states to decide how to regulate the drug. Schumer stopped short of calling it legalization, but de-scheduling would essentially make marijuana legal at the federal level.”

    With Chuck Schumer now joining Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Ron Wyden in sponsoring comprehensive marijuana law reform legislation, it is time for the Democratic party to speak with one voice. The Party must be clear and consistent in their intent to legalize marijuana, as well as expunge the criminal convictions that hold millions of Americans back from basic needs like employment, housing, and pathways to higher education.

    As states start dialing back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were impacted by this oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied, and be provided the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation. We fully applaud Senator Schumer acknowledging this reality with today’s announcement.

    More information about Senator Schumer’s bill to come in the days ahead. 

  • by NORML

    Today, Senator Bernie Sanders joined Senator Cory Booker on a live stream for a conversation about ending prohibition and co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act.

    But they can’t do it alone.

    Right now, 33 members of Congress have put their name on the House and Senate versions of this legislation, but we still have a long way to go. Politicians are starting to realize that legalization is not only good policy, but good politics. Send a message to your federal officials and tell them to put their name on this legislation too.

    The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. The Marijuana Justice Act would be the sensible, moral, and rational way to end the failed policy of marijuana criminalization.

    In 2016, over 650,000 people were arrested for marijuana. The consequences are staggering. From time spent in jail to the costs of legal fees – to the collateral consequences, including but not limited to having to list a criminal offense on a job or housing application, the criminalization of cannabis is a cruel concept that most hurts those in poverty and is disproportionately enforced against people of color.

    Don’t wait until 4/20 to take action. Send a message to your lawmakers NOW.

    Thanks for standing up, speaking out, and being a NORML citizen.

    Your friends at National NORML.

Page 1 of 50312345...102030...Last »