NORML’s Weekly Legislative Update

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 4, 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.

    ** Remember: 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.

    Washington, DC: Members of the DC City Council voted unanimously today in favor of legislation (The Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act 0f 2010) to establish medical marijuana dispensaries in the District of Columbia. The Council had given preliminary approval for the measure in April.

    As approved, Health Department officials would regulate up to five facilities to dispense medical cannabis to authorized patients. Medical dispensaries would be limited to growing no more than 95 plants on site at any one time. Patients are expected to be able to obtain up to four ounces of dispensary-provided marijuana per month. Patients would not be permitted to privately cultivate their own supply of medicine. Low-income patients will be allowed to purchase medical marijuana at a greatly reduced cost under the plan.

    The bill now goes to Mayor Adrian Fenty for his signature. Congress will then have 30 working days to either approve or reject the measure.

    Additional information on this measure is available here and also from NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.

    Pennsylvania: Democrat Sen. Daylin Leach held a press conference today to mark the introduction of Senate Bill 1350, The Compassionate Use Act, which seeks to make Pennsylvania the fifteenth state to legalize the physician-supervised use of marijuana.

    The bill is a companion bill to House Bill 1393, which awaits action by the House Health and Human Services Committee. (Read NORML’s testimony before the Committee here or watch video here.)

    The measures would allow state-authorized patients to possess and cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The measures also seek to allow for the state-licensed distribution and sale of medical marijuana by authorized ‘compassion centers.’ Nearly 60 percent of Pennsylvanians support the measure according to a December 2009 Quinnipiac University poll.

    To support this campaign, please contact Philly NORML or Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana, or visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    Illinois: House lawmakers may finally decide this week the fate of Senate Bill 1381, which seeks to regulate the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana. The measure was passed by the Senate in 2009 and is believed to be only one vote shy of majority support in the House. However, the 2009-2010 legislative session ends this Friday. If you live in Illinois, it is vital that you contact your House member today and urge him or her to end the prohibition of medical marijuana.

    Tennessee: Members of the House Committee on Health and Human Resources unanimously voted last week to establish a task force to study the issue of legalizing medical marijuana, and to report back to the legislature with recommendations. While this outcome is not ideal for seriously ill individuals who desire immediate legal protections, the members’ action is a significant step forward in the campaign to ultimately provide legal and safe access to medical cannabis for authorized Tennessee patients.

    NORML retained a state lobbyist this legislative session to represent the interests of our statewide affiliates, and to argue on behalf of legal access to medicinal cannabis. NORML and its affiliates will continue to actively lobby the legislature in 2011 and beyond in support of enacting common sense access and protections for Tennessee’s medical marijuana patient community.

    New Hampshire: Members of the Senate have rejected, on a voice vote, House-backed legislation (House Bill 1653) that sought to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses. The Senate vote came almost a month after House lawmakers overwhelmingly (214 to 137) voted in favor of the measure, which would have reduced the penalties on minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine to a nominal monetary penalty of no more than $200.00.

    Although some Senators acknowledged their private support for decriminalization (Read NORML’s testimony here), several committee members said the veto threat from Democrat Gov. John Lynchconvinced them that pursuing the bill was a fool’s errand.”

    Gov. Lynch last year vetoed legislation that sought to legalize the medical use of marijuana.

    To learn about pending legislation in additional states — and how you can get involved, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.

    31 Responses to “NORML’s Weekly Legislative Update”

    1. Rebl with a Cause says:

      Come November – Steve Cooley – the Los Angeles District Attorney (with backing from the California Narcotics Officers Assoc.) is running for California Attorney General. What a joke! We’re ready to throw his arss out as the L.A. D.A. The thought of him attaining any office higher than dog catcher [if that] is ???, well use [your own] imagination. Personally, I find it ludicrous! The boy made his own bed by attacking [LEGAL] medical dispensaries in L.A. – and – he can lie in it. I wish th boy no ill will, only an equal amount of compassion he has shown for Qualified 11362.5 Patients; that being…zero! I can find no sound reason to put the fox in charge of the hen house. That goes for any politician that opposes the will of the people. Political carpetbaggers can go take a aeronautical intercourse in a motivating french pastry.

    2. meman says:

      You guys forgot Rhode Island.. they’re discussing legalization or decriminalization.. (or neither)..


      [Paul Armentano responds: We are tracking progress in Rhode Island. You can support both bills clicking on the Rhode Island alerts in NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center.]

    3. Parker says:

      I’m another patient who would like to know if residents of Virginia and Maryland could see a physician in Washington D.C. for a prescription of cannabis at a D.C dispensary. My thinking is only D.C. residents will have legal access however I’d like to know for certain.


      [Paul Armentano responds: Only residents of the District will qualify for authorization. An amendment to allow MD and VA residents to qualify was rejected by the City council. A similar law to DC’s is pending in Maryland.]

    4. Pain-fully Stressed says:

      come on New york ! get with it ! contact your reps!

    5. Mike says:

      Had trouble using the auto send feature. It could not determine my rep. here in Illinois. My reps email address is lisadugan@sbcglobal.net.

    6. Theo says:

      Lea made an interesting point: ” Are they so stupid, so lame, that they don’t realize the cat is out of the bag in terms of cannabis lies?”
      I believe they assume very few voters visit this or similar sites. I would like to see a login on this site and how many people actually log in here daily. An email address and zip code is all you’d need to join NORML as a registered reader.

    7. Lea says:

      It is simply mind boggling how one state differs from another when it comes to medical marijuana. Furthermore, it is truly mind boggling that hoops still have to be jumped through to get legislation done.

      How is it that politicians do not understand that if they did indeed support Legalization OR Medical marijuana that they’d be elected OR re elected in a heart beat? Are they so stupid, so lame, that they don’t realize the cat is out of the bag in terms of cannabis lies?

    8. 1justin says:

      what about North Carolina? I saw on MPP’s site where we have finally got out health committee review, and I think it passed, like last month. Nothing yet here though.

      [Paul Armentano responds: HB 1380, introduced last year, has not received a vote in Committee.]

    9. Blackstone says:

      As a chronically ill Maryland resident who is forced to spend $335 a month on JUST my opioid pain medication, I’m hoping the new DC law will allow me access to another medication to aid in my recovery. Does anyone know if patients from Maryland and Virginia will be able to see a doctor who prescribes medical marijuana within DC and obtain a prescription?

      While I see this law as a great first step for the region, I feel that it doesn’t go nearly far enough in that patients should not be beholden to dispensaries and able to grow their own medicine. I do not have several hundred dollars to spend for pain medication, and marijuana should be a cheaper, more easily accessible substance but I worry that with such restrictions on dispensaries business motives will overtake compassionate care and prices will skyrocket.

      As a chronically ill patient who was well on his way toward becoming a practicing physician before degenerative illness and disability, I am always careful to only imbibe substances of purity. If I was legally able to grow my own medical marijuana, I would without a doubt do so organically, likely exceeding USDA Organic requirements. I’m worried that the incredible demand placed on dispensaries will compel them to grow conventionally as it is easier and cheaper to do so, though nearly all marijuana-cultivation experts know it makes poorer quality cannabis. Do you think dispensaries will offer strains available that are grown organically?

      I can only hope that my state of Maryland answers DC’s progress in kind with a law that creates even greater freedom of choice for medical marijuana patents.

    10. Mooky says:

      =/. That nieve, ignorant John Lynch.

      Cant teach an old dog new tricks I suppose. Luckily we cannabis folk are among the most patient.

      Delaying the inevitable is the current plan.

      Mr lynch will have a tough time with integrity vs despair as an old man. Oh well, all we can do is keep trying.

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