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NORML’s Weekly Legislative Update

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 25, 2010

    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.

    Massachusetts: On Tuesday, March 2, members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hear testimony in favor of Senate Bill 1801, which seeks to legally regulate the commercial production and distribution of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. The hearing is scheduled for 1:00pm in room A-1 of the Massachusetts State House. You can read NORML’s written testimony to the Committee here. You can also watch video of NORML representatives previously testifying in favor of this measure before lawmakers here. For information on attending next week’s hearing please visit here, or to contact the Committee, please go here.

    Washington, DC: Members of the DC City Council’s Committee on Health this week held their first hearing on implementing the District’s new medical marijuana law. Council members heard several hours of 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 testified on behalf of the measure, which is expected to be enacted by the Council by May of this year. If approved by the Council, Congress has 30 days to either approve or reject the measure. More information about this measure is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    South Dakota: Representatives of the South Dakota Coalition for Compassion this week turned in nearly twice the required number of signatures necessary to place a medical marijuana legalization initiative on the November 2010 statewide ballot. You can read the text of the measure here, or become involved in the campaign by going here. NORML will begin reporting more in depth about this effort once the measure has been certified by the state to appear on the 2010 ballot.

    Hawaii: Members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations heard testimony today in favor of SB 2450, which seeks to reduce minor marijuana possession penalties from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1000 fine, to a civil infraction punishable by a fine only. You can read NORML’s written testimony in support of the measure, which is co-sponsored by 19 of Hawaii’s 25 Senators, here.

    Maryland: On Friday, February 26, at 1:00pm the House Committee of Health and Government Operations and the House Committee of the Judiciary will jointly hear testimony regarding several legislative proposals that seek to legalize the use, production, and distribution of medical marijuana. NORML representatives will be in attendance and testifying at tomorrow’s hearing.

    New York: On Tuesday, members of the Senate Health Committee passed S. 4041, which seeks to allow state-qualified patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana for therapeutic purposes. To learn more about S. 4041 and/or its Assembly companion bill, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    34 Responses to “NORML’s Weekly Legislative Update”

    1. BOY IZ THAT D BEST NEWZ IVE HEARD COME OUT OF MA$$ SINCE D BOSTON TEA PARTY LOL JUST FINISHED TXTING MY LOCAL POLITICIANS TOLD THEM 2 KUT D CRAP N LETS GET OUR ECONOMY ROLLIN AGAIN!I EVEN TOLD D WHITE HOUSE 2 STOP WASTING THER TIME WITH HEALTH CARE N WORK ON LEGALIZING MAR. NOW THATS REAL HEALTH CARE THAT MOST SICK PAT. DESPERATLY NEED..NOT 2 MENTION D MONEY IT WOULD GEN. IT WOULD MOST CERTAINLY PAY 4 H.C. N SOME!AS FAR AS D MYTH GOES ABOUT POT BEING A GATEWAY DRUG IS JUST THAT A MYTH! IF POT IS D GATEWY DRUG THAN PRESCRIPTION PILLS IZ D HIGHWAY KIDZ R NO LONGER GOIN FROM POT 2 COC THERE GOIN FROM D MED. CAB. 2 D KOOKER! E ZAYAS!

    2. randy nc says:

      I can see D.C. stalling this forever…just sayin’.(-_-)

    3. James Crosby says:

      Support the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act!

      http://www.cannabistaxact.org/

      If you want a yard sign for your land, then go register here & they will offer you one!

      http://octa-2010.com/

      I know I want a yard sign for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act. So I registered instantly. It’s a support site for those that love the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act. Go check it out!

      NORML, I love you, but please cover the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act a little sometime. After all, Oregon NORML is working on it.

    4. Chris says:

      I’m happy things are starting to snowball or so it seems. I’ll be happier when I see Florida in your weekly round up. Soon!!

    5. CJ says:

      Word up ENRIQUE! LEGALIZE BUD!!

    6. DB says:

      Things sure are quiet in Wisconsin…

    7. The Facts says:

      Washington State — A growing number of people in this state are joining many in Oregon and California in believing that marijuana use should be decriminalized. Their changing attitudes, described in the Wall Street Journal in a Jan. 15 article “Push for Looser Pot Laws Gains Momentum,” have been molded during 20 years of proselytizing by MoveOn.org founder George Soros and other drug-legalization promoters. In more than a dozen states, Soros (as detailed in David Broder’s book, “Democracy Derailed”) has sponsored voter initiatives for the more widely accepted medical marijuana and then for legalization. Initiatives to move beyond medical marijuana to legalize and tax the drug are gaining steam in California and Oregon, intended for 2010 ballots

    8. The Facts says:

      Dear , Enrique

      Your either a cronnie appearing to be stupid for Drug or Alcohol or you need to go back to grade school to learn to spell. I suspect your a cronnie .

    9. JUST FINISHED WATCHIN REDMANS INTERVIEW WITH HIGH TIMES I STRONGLY SUGGEST U ROLL 1 UP N WATCH IT!”PIMP MY GROW ROOM”IZ FUCKIN HILARIOUS!HEY MASS. DONT 4GET 2 CONTACT UR LOC. POLITIANS N VOTE 4 BILL 1801 REGULATE MARIJUANA 4 DIST. PROD. N SALE 2 PPLS OVER 21 IN THE STATE OF MA$$.E ZAYA$

    10. Lea says:

      Enrique is either a Troll or a Cop, notice his email address attached to the name.
      Typing in all CAPITALS Enreekee is offensive and considered SHOUTING. Grow up.

    11. wash-voter says:

      Washington State also #7. http://sensiblewashington.org/
      Go Evergreen State. :)
      Pray for 2010 to be the year our future generations remember. I’ll remember what I was doing on that day.

    12. Anonymous says:

      hope NY medical mj gets passed!

    13. Lea says:

      Anyway … Allen St. Pierre’s written testimony in D.C. was and is wonderful. You covered Allen, in the short amount of time they allow, many key points.

    14. Hey ,world don’t forget WASHINGTON STATE HAS …I-1068…We are in the throws of collecting 320000 signatures so we can have legal Cannabis for. Adults 18 and over. sensiblewashington.org

    15. Anonymous says:

      whats the deal with pennslyvania medical?

      I remember it started up around the same time NJ was doin it thing with medical.

      NJ has it now, what about p.a?

    16. mike says:

      here in georgia we would be happy if cops just wont shoot us over weed .they shoot our dogs just for fun.

    17. William says:

      Is there Anyone In Idaho? please talk to me.

    18. somedood says:

      Nothing out of North Carolina as usual…

    19. Just me says:

      For those of you dejected about no legislation going on in your state, theres a nice story about the UNODC over at drugwar rant. Seems the UNODC is back peddling.

      http://www.drugwarrant.com/

    20. randy nc says:

      #19; We live in the bible (brainwashed) belt buddy. We’ll be one of the last and still have some of the tightest restrictions. But it could be worse… Still can’t buy a beer on Sunday in S.C.

    21. mntnman444 says:

      One of the main arguments in favor of legalizing and regulating marijuana is the fact that because it is illegal the black market controls the price and anytime a product is prohibited the price is inflated.
      NORML has been using the argument that with legalization the black market would be put out of business just as the mafia was with repeal of alcohol prohibition.Now Mr Stroup is suggesting that the govt keep the inflated black market prices in place if legalized…$300-$600 per ounce!
      I don’t know what NORML is thinking but this would amount to legalized rape.Legal marijuana should cost no more than legal pipe tobacco and if these ridiculous prices are kept it will do nothing to cut out the black market and give prohibitionists a reason to say legalization doesn’t work.
      I’m so pissed off at NORML…I have supported them for decades and I feel totally betrayed by them.Marijuana should not be legalized so the govt can make a profit…it should be legalized because it’s the right thing to do!

      [Editor's note: You're misinterpreting Keith Stroup's interview. 1) The mafia was not put out of business because alcohol prohibition ended in the early 1930s, 2) Ideally, in some perfect world that does not exist, cannabis should cost the same as wheat, tobacco or corn, in other words, pennies per ounce. However, no where on the face of the earth is cannabis sold for pennies for ounce, not in medical cannabis wellness centers, Netherlands, Jamaica, India's bhang shops, etc... Stroup's point in the interview regarding the future costs of legalized cannabis for consumers is that based on the experience at medical cannabis wellness centers, Netherlands' coffeeshops, Jamaica and India's bhang shops a) even when 'legal' cannabis exists it still manages to fetch very large profit margins over the cost of production and b) recession wary, tax-starved local and state governments will likely tax cannabis at higher rates than most products or services, lumping cannabis taxes in with other so-called 'vice' taxes like, for example, alcohol, tobacco and junk food.

      One of the MAIN reasons why NORML so strongly supports cannabis consumers' ability to cultivate their own cannabis is to not be subject to excessively high market prices, vice taxes and potentially inferior product.]

    22. William says:

      #19 Pepole are getting angry,or so I have heard talk to me.

    23. Chris says:

      #22 The only reason the state federal goverments will ever legalize cannabis is because they will make money, lots of money off of the taxes. Putting that argument aside growers are going to charge what the market will bear, look at the price for top flight alcohol. But just like if you don’t want to pay $3 a pound for tomatoes you grow your own, you could do the same with cannabis, or if you don’t have a green thumb you could form a co op with other like minded people. My biggest fear is they treat it like alcohal and prohibit private growth just like you can’t distille your own whisky.

    24. mntnman444 says:

      I did not misinterpret Stroups comments,he specifically said the govt should not lower the price to $25 per ounce and encouraged them to tax the hell out of it.I opposed the bill in Cal from the start because of the $50 per ounce tax…for Christ sake I just bought an ounce of Oregano for $1.It’s a fucking dried plant!!

      The mafia got out of the alcohol business the minute repeal was enacted…who are you trying to bullshit?And NORML has used the argument that with legalization ,the black market would be out of the business for decades.If anyone could sell a dried plant for $550 per ounce instead of $600 who the hell wouldn’t?

      I don’t care what it sells for in other countries…are you saying that legal hemp should sell for $600 per ounce??? It’s the same plant!

      I put in my time on the street passing out your Common Sense pamphlets in the 80′s and was harassed by the cops and the US Attorney…and this is what we get???…The only way to get it legalized is to let the govt ream us with no Vaseline?Ya know what? Fuck it…I can get Mex for $60 an ounce right now without your help.

      When the Hemp for Victory campaign was going on the US Dept of Agriculture figured it would cost a farmer $4 per pound to grow…so to be generous lets say $50 per pound today.Let the farmer charge $100 per pound and the govt tax it $100 per pound…with a 100% markup for retailers,that’s $400 per pound…that’s $25 per ounce!
      Now tell me what other crop can a farmer get a $50 per pound profit?What agricultural product can the govt get a tax of $100 per pound?? Everyone is making a killing and the consumer is paying a fair price!

      NORML…I have listened to you for decades acting like you are supporting legalization because it is the right thing to do…now just because you see this as the easiest way to get it legalized you are willing to sell out the people who supported you and let the man continue to punish us as if we are doing something wrong or immoral with a monetary punishment instead of a legal punishment.

      And Chris,my point is that letting the govt put such an outrageously high tax on it is the equivelent of a punishment…the same as the Harrison Act.

      [Editor's note: Ummm...oregano is not cannabis. You're living in a fantasy land disconnected from any economic reality if you believe that the value of cannabis is $1 an ounce. Whether greed, avarice, prohibition-related costs, risk costs, etc...your vexation that cannabis costs more than you want to pay while common, does not change economics, especially prohibition economics.

      The Common Sense series published by NORML in the 1980s called for local, county, state and federal taxes--four levels of taxation.

      The cost of cannabis is whatever the consumer is willing to pay for it. Self-evidently, under prohibition laws, even when supposedly legal for medical purposes, the economic value for cannabis, be it retail or wholesale, is minimally between $50-$200 an ounce--not $1. Frustratingly, for the consumer or patient, the current prices in states like CA and CO for an ounce of 'medical' cannabis is between $300-$500.

      NORML didn't write or pay for the signature gathering for TaxCannabis2010 in California, and the organization would not have likely began the process by discussing a $50/ounce tax. However, as the single most important cannabis reform endeavor in 2010, NORML endorses the legalization initiative and encourages all forward-thinking reformers to do the same.

      Ultimately, when cannabis has the same legal status as alcohol products, the taxes will not be excessively high because 1) a black market will begin again and 2) competition in a free market dictates that local or state governments can't set taxes too high on cannabis (or other products and services), or, other jurisdictions will garner the business...and taxes.

      Even if CA voters adopt a $50 per ounce tax to end prohibition, ensuing states will legalize cannabis and attract producers and consumers with lower taxes such that CA must lower their $50/ounce tax.

      BTW, there are studies indicating that even when grown en mass (over 50,000 plants) indoors, the cost per ounce to produce is $35-$40. With a reasonably assessed tax of 10% or so, cannabis consumers will probably pay $3-$4 of taxes per ounce, not $50.

      A helpful reminder from Voltaire for reformers: The perfect is the enemy of the good.]

    25. mntnman444 says:

      So Paul…this is how you treat longtime supporters who have a different opinion?You censor comments and then tell me I’m living in a fantasy word?
      So what your saying is that legal hemp will cost $35-$40 per ounce to grow?I guess we better continue to buy it from Canada and forget legalizing it here because they seem to know how to do it for much less.Even under alcohol prohibition the black market price was about 3 times higher than the legal price so you’re still way off.I have grown indoors with halide lights and in a room that yields 50 ounces over a period of 3 months with the electric costing $100 per month, it costs nowhere near $40 per ounce

      Oregano and tobacco are dried plant matter and the Oregano I bought was imported.Hemp is the same plant ,the only difference in how it is grown is that it is planted closer together.Tobacco is one of the most heavily taxed substances on earth but I do not pay $600 per ounce for my cigarettes even with the outrageous federal and state tax on them.

      Here’s another helpful reminder…insult your longtime supporters and they may just not support you anymore.I already know several people who are not happy with the way you are handling things so don’t push it.It’s really nice of you to insult someone who put their ass on the line to help out just because you believe that allowing this excessive taxation is the only way to get it legalized.I am getting more support now from Reagan republicans who used to say that anyone who suggested legalization should be publicly hanged than I am getting from self proclaimed liberals,who tell me it’s a “non-issue”.The republicans don’t think it should be done for the money,they are now saying that prohibition is unconstitutional.

      Let me tell you,I was supporting NORML when Keith first founded it and I think Keith is a great guy,but I never thought I’d see the day when Keith would suggest to the govt to tax the hell out of marijuana users,he always acted like legalization was the right thing to do.And no need to explain the economics of prohibition to me,I was probably reading An Analysis of Marijuana Policy when you were still reading Jack and Jill $600 per ounce for legal marijuana is legalized rape and will do absolutely nothing to get rid of the black market…period!If you think any different than it is you who are living in a fantasy world disconnected from reality.

      [Editor's note: Don't want to be 'raped' paying taxes on retail cannabis? Just like the 2% of beer drinkers who brew their own, you too can grow your own cannabis for personal consumption.]

    26. mntnman444 says:

      I just talked to a facebook friend of mine about this who is a former director of NORML,he agrees with me that a reasonable tax similar to that on alcohol is fair and that is all I’m saying…so I guess I have at least one friend in that fantasy world.
      My point is,and my anger is about the fact that NORML is cheering this instead of questioning the motives and defending it’s supporters.Why does the govt deserve such an outrageous reward for righting a wrong they never should have committed in the first place?An unreasonable tax is nothing more than a punishment for something that is not,never has been and never will be criminal behavior or immoral.

    27. Men for legalization of Cannabis .

      YOU GO BOYS !

    28. Cory M Russell says:

      i actually read the bill,gasp! and the only things i dont understand are 1.the whole murky importation,unmarked bags rules 2.why Mass. would try and charge a 150$ fee for every ounce of shitty schwag you grow(they put it as cannabis between 1 and 5% THC)

    29. brian says:

      I guess once again we learn that the Obama administration was full of it offering us any change. Marijuana Seizure have nearly DOUBLED under his tenure thus far: http://www.mainjustice.com/2010/03/01/dea-marijuana-seizures-nearly-double/

      [The total amount of marijuana seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration nearly doubled from 1,539 metric tons in fiscal 2008 to 2,980 metric tons in last year.

      The numbers were disclosed as part of the DEA’s budget request for fiscal 2011.

      Despite Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that targeting individual users of cannabis for medical purposes was no longer a priority, the DEA budget request spoke dismissively of the benefits of medical marijuana, even placing the word patients in quotation marks.

      “DEA does not investigate or target individual ‘patients’ who use cannabis, but instead the drug trafficking organizations involved in marijuana trafficking,” the request stated.]

      Whomever we think is viable or not in 2012, please don’t vote for this fraud. Clearly NOTHING will change under the Obama presidency.

    30. D-_-ick says:

      Why can’t we get something slipped in like other bills that have gone under the radar. During all this Health care and Jobless bill action is going on some brave senators should stand up against prohibition.

    31. packlama says:

      600 an once? i cant afford that price. lets get it legal

    32. DarthNole says:

      VOTE for Legalizing Marijuana on Change.org:

      I am hoping that MPP, NORML, SSDP, LEAP and others will use their email lists and get behind this vote. They ask us to go support their videos, questions, ideas…. so hopefully they will rally behind us and get their email lists involved. The idea has dropped into 8th place, and there are many that are very close behind. Now is the time for us to be active!

      9 days to go….

      There is time to secure our spot in the discussion and there is plenty of time to lose it. What is your choice???

      MPP, NORML, SSDP, LEAP…. Can we count on you???

      http://bit.ly/cMZCHB

    33. Jason of IN says:

      Who cares if Marijuana is taxed? As a “criminal” according to our unfair state laws i would have to assume that the tax for buying 1oz of marijuana would be less that $1100 which is the combined cost of my court and probation fees. As long as the cost is less than that and the amount of stress it causes is less than i would say any legalization is better than none. Stop bickering and lets all agree that legalization is the right thing to do.

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