NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up
The theme this week: Time to write your Governor!
Maine: Democrat Gov. John Baldacci signed legislation into law on May 1 expanding the state’s marijuana decriminalization law. As enacted, LD 250 makes the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana a civil violation, punishable by a fine only. (Presently, anyone found possessing more than 1.25 ounces of cannabis is presumed to be engaging in the marijuana sales and faces criminal penalties and potential jail time.) The new law takes effect later this fall. Only one other state, Ohio, treats the possession of more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis as a fine-only (no jail) offense.
New Hampshire: Only one man has the power to continue the criminalization of seriously ill patients in New Hampshire. That man is Democrat Governor John Lynch. If you live in New Hampshire, he needs to hear from you — now! Last week, Gov. Lynch indicated to House leaders that he was likely to veto HB 648, which would legalize the use and cultivation of medicinal cannabis by state-qualified patients. Legislative leaders are trying to revise the bill’s language to address the Governor’s concerns. But even more importantly the Governor needs to hear positive feedback from his constituents. You can contact Gov. Lynch here or by visiting NHCompassion.org.
Hawaii: Senate Bill 1058, an act to create a medical cannabis task force committee, has been approved by the legislature and now awaits action from Republican Gov. Linda Lingle. The intent of the task force is to address patients’ concerns and criticisms regarding Hawaii’s eight-year-old medical marijuana law. In 2008, Gov. Lingle vetoed a similar task force measure. That is why, if you live in Hawaii, we are asking you to contact the Governor and urge her to support SB 1058. You can do so by going here.
Rhode Island: House members are expected to vote later this week on House Bill 5359, which would allow for the state to license non-profit “compassion centers” to assist in the production and distribution of medical cannabis to qualified patients. The Senate previously voted 35 to 2 in favor of the legislation. House members will need to approve it by a similar majority — as the measure faces a veto threat from Republican Gov. Don Carcieri. If you live in Rhode Island, you can learn more about this campaign by going here or here.
Minnesota: Legislation to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis has been approved by the state Senate and now awaits action from the House. At this time, the bill’s primary hurdle appears to be Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has voiced strong opposition to the measure. If you live in Minnesota, please contact your House member and the Governor by going here.
For information on additional marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s Take Action page here. May 11, 2009