NORML’s Weekly Legislative Update
Lawmakers around the country are debating a record number of marijuana law reform bills in 2010. NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up is your one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country, along with tips for influencing the policies of your state.
** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and make the changes they want to see. We can’t do it without you.
California: Democrat Assemblyman Tom Ammiano reintroduced legislation on Thursday that seeks to legalize the production, distribution, and personal use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. Assembly Bill 2254, the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act of 2010, would enact regulations governing the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana for adults. The noncommercial cultivation of marijuana for personal use would not be subject to taxation under the proposal. In addition, AB 2254 would not alter existing legislation on the use of medicinal cannabis, nor would it impose new taxes or sanctions on the medical cultivation of cannabis.
In January, a previous version of this proposal (AB 390) was approved by the California Assembly, Committee on Public Safety. The vote was the first time since 1913 that lawmakers had called for the repeal of cannabis prohibition. Further votes on AB 390 did not take place because of calendar restraints. To learn more about AB 2254, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here or go to California NORML’s website here.
Washington: Senate lawmakers failed to act this week on Senate Bill 5615, which sought to reclassify minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor to a fine-only civil infraction. Their inaction kills the bill for this legislative session.
In January, House lawmakers also rejected a proposal that sought to legalize and regulate marijuana production, sale, and use to those age 21 or older. Yet a January statewide poll of 500 adults found that a solid majority of Washington voters support legalizing marijuana. As a result, NORML Legal Committee member Douglas Hiatt, along with NORML Board Member Jeffrey Steinborn and others are petitioning to place the issue before state voters this November. To qualify for the ballot, organizers needs to turn in 241,153 valid signatures of registered voters to the Secretary of State’s Office on or before July 2. You can learn more about this effort here.
Washington, DC: Members of the DC City Council’s Committee on Health will hold their first hearing on implementing the District’s new medical marijuana law on Tuesday, February 23. Council members will hear testimony regarding B 18-622, the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act 0f 2010, which seeks to implement local regulations regarding the medical use and distribution of medical marijuana to qualified patients. Representatives from NORML will be in attendance and testifying on behalf of the measure. You can read NORML’s written testimony to the Committee here. If you wish to attend this hearing, please go here.
New Hampshire: House lawmakers will be spending part of their summer debating the merits of regulating adult marijuana use. In January members of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee heard testimony in favor of House Bill 1652, which sought to “allow [for] the purchase and use of marijuana by adults.” (Read NORML’s testimony to the Committee here.) On January 27, members of the Committee voted 16-2 on a motion to refer the bill to a special interim study committee. Members of the full House recently affirmed this amendment by a vote of 272 to 76, meaning that the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will study the bill more thoroughly this summer, and it will issue recommendations for the following legislative session by November.
Iowa: On Wednesday, February 17, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously in favor of reclassifying marijuana as a medicine under state law. (Note, this vote does not legalize the medical use of marijuana in Iowa.)
However, despite this latest decision from the Board, as well as a just-released statewide poll indicating that 64 percent of Iowans back legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, news reports indicate that lawmakers are not yet supportive of House File 2179, which seeks to legalize the physician-supervised use of cannabis. If you live in Iowa, please take time to contact your lawmakers here.
For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here February 19, 2010