NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up
As I wrote on NORML’s blog yesterday, let the White House laugh for now but the public knows that the marijuana law reform issue is no laughing matter.
More states are moving forward to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, and this week has been especially busy.
If you have not yet gotten active in your state, now is most definitely the time to start.
Here’s this week’s latest summary of how you can get involved!
Taxing & Regulating Marijuana: As we noted previously this week, a pair of bills — House Bill 2929 and Senate Bill 1801 — seeking to “tax and regulate the cannabis industry” have been introduced in the Massachusetts legislature. You can show your support for these measures here.
In California, next Tuesday’s scheduled hearing before the Public Safety Committee on Assembly Bill 390: The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act, has been postponed. However, this is a good news! Members of the Committee on Public Safety and Health were anticipated to vote on AB 390 immediately following next week’s hearing. While it is impossible to know how the Committee would have voted, all early indications were that several powerful members of the Committee were expected to oppose the bill. We now have additional time to lobby the Public Safety Committee and the Assembly to support AB 390, which you can do here and here.
Decriminalizing Marijuana: Members of the Connecticut Joint Committee on Judiciary heard testimony this week from NORML and others in favor of Senate Bill 349, which seeks to reclassify the possession of minor amounts of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction. This measure is backed by a solid majority of state voters, and you can urge the Judiciary Committee to support this effort here.
Finally in Montana, members of the House Judiciary Committee deadlocked in a 9 to 9 vote this week on House Bill 541, which seeks to reclassify the possession of thirty grams or less of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction. This action does not kill HB 541, as the Committee can reconsider the issue if just one member is persuaded to change their vote. Help them do so by going here.
Legalizing Medical Marijuana: In arguably the biggest legislative news of the week, members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted Wednesday 234 to 138 in favor of House Bill 648, which seeks to authorize the physician supervised use of marijuana. The vote marked the first time that either chamber of the legislature had voted in favor of the medicinal use of cannabis. You can learn more about this effort by going here and here.
In other progress, legislative committees in Illinois and Minnesota also approved medical marijuana bills this week. Key hearings and committee votes are also scheduled in the coming days in Montana and Alabama. You can learn how to support these and other statewide medical cannabis efforts at NORML’s Take Action Center here.
To learn about additional pending legislation in Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Washington, please visit NORML’s Legislative Action Alerts page here. March 27, 2009