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NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director December 11, 2015

    map_leafState legislators are pre-filing numerous marijuana reform bills in preparation for the start of the 2016 legislative season. Additionally, members of Congress are negotiating on federal funding measures that could have dramatic effects on national marijuana policy. Keep reading to below to find out what new legislative reforms are taking place in your state and what the federal budget could mean for you!

    A full list and summary of pending state and federal legislation is available here. Summaries of the dozens of marijuana law reform bills approved this year is also available here.

    Federal: Congressional leadership is deciding on the inclusion of four marijuana-specific provisions in the FY 2016 spending bill. Passage of these measures will have an important effect on the role the federal government will play (or not) in 2016 federal marijuana policy. As previously reported on by Marijuana.com here they are:

    *Prevent the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

    -Similar language was enacted last year and is current law for Fiscal Year 2015. On June 3, the House approved the amendment by a vote of 242-186 and on June 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted the amendment by a vote of 21-9.

    * Prevent the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state industrial hemp research programs.

    -Similar language was enacted last year and is current law for Fiscal Year 2015. On June 3, the House approved the amendment by a vote of 289-132 and on June 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment by a voice vote.

    * Allow doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans, and prevent the V.A. from denying services to veterans because they are medical marijuana patients in accordance with state law.

    -On April 30, the House narrowly rejected the amendment by a vote of 210-213 but on May 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment by a vote of 18-12, and its language was included in a bill passed by the full Senate on November 10.

    * Prevent the federal government from punishing banks for doing business with state-legal marijuana providers.

    -On July 23, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment to by a vote of 16-14

    Additionally, Congress will be weighing whether or not to include in the final spending package language that would bar Washington D.C. from implementing a recreational market for marijuana. Last year, Congress included language that prevented the district from taxing and selling marijuana, leading to the implementation of a grow and share program in the District.

    We are expecting to receive news of final budget negotiations next week so keep following the NORML blog for an update!

    Flag_of_Illinois.svgIllinois: House Bill 4357, legislation to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses in Illinois, is pending in the General Assembly.

    If approved, the legislation would make the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine only. Adults would no longer face criminal arrest or the threat of time in jail or a criminal record.

    Introduced by Representative Kelly Cassidy, this proposal largely mirrors legislation previously introduced in the spring of 2015 that was approved by members of both the House and Senate.

    320px-Flag_of_Missouri.svgMissouri: Senate Bill 762, which permits for the personal possession and retail sale of marijuana by those age 21 and over, has been prefiled for the 2016 legislative session. The measure permits adults to privately possess up to one ounce of cannabis without penalty. Senate Bill 762 also seeks to license the commercial production and to regulate the retail sale of marijuana for adults. To take action on this measure click here.

    House legislation has been prefiled —HB 1524 — to allow marijuana convictions to be expunged contingent upon the passage of a constitutional amendment or other statutory enactment legalizing marijuana. To take action on this measure click here.

    Senate Bill 761 has been prefiled in the Missouri legislature to exempt marijuana from certain forfeiture provisions relating to controlled substances.

    “Under current law, illegal controlled substances, anything of value exchanged for a controlled substance in violation of the law, money used to facilitate a violation of the controlled substances laws, money found in close proximity to an illegal controlled substance, and any other property used in relation to or derived from a violation of the controlled substances laws is subject to seizure and forfeiture.” This act exempts marijuana from these forfeiture provisions. To take action on this measure click here.

    Additional information for these and other pending legislative measures may be found at our #TakeAction Center!

    ** 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 to make the changes they want to see. Get active; get NORML!

    13 Responses to “NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up”

    1. Malcolm Kyle says:

      When fascism came to the USA it was not labelled “Made in Germany”, it was not marked with a swastika, it was not even called fascism. It actually had many names, like Prohibition, War on (some) Drugs, DEA, CIA, Kleiman, Sabet, Sembler, Chabott, Volkov, Leonhart, ….

    2. Julian says:

      I am relieved to see temporary legislation for veterans access and cannibanking on the table.
      But… truth is “Preventing the DOJ” without preventing the unconstitutional CSAct? Its just another head off the Hydra in our Marijuana Tragedy.

      Solution: Use revenue from fairly taxed marijuana and the CSAct on REAL Forensics Training, Crime Lab and Teacher Certification, Peer Based Review of REAL criminal and DNA evidence and a closure of all the loop holes that allow police departments, prisons prosecutors and forensic scientists to police and review themselves. Think about it; publically funded peer based review, not just something someone found on wikipedia… (Hey, I use wikipedia…) This revenue would not only reduce the dependency of the DOJ on self-serving prosecutors and Drug War lobbies, but would simultaneously address the lack of Congressional oversight by funding policy reform through consumer-scrutinized, (and therefore Congressionally represented) marijuana sales tax.

      The new DOJ plan is more foxes in charge of the hen house;
      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/crime-lab-scandals-the-focus-of-new-doj-plan/
      The language written by the National Commission of Forensic Sciences states that crime labs only have to take their evidence to “accredited crime labs whenever practicable.”

      I’d like to try that at work sometime. “Oh I was going to bring you a receipt with an engineer’s certification for all those materials I charged you for Mr. Smith but it just wasnt practicable sooo heeere’s your invoice… Have a nice day! …” Except my material orders dont determine whether someone’s mom or dad unjustly goes on death row!

      Its profit over justice until we make Congress understand they either clean up the CSAct or get voted out!

      Let’s replace the Drug Enforcement Agency with the Drug Education Agency and the Controlled Substances Act with the Certification Services Act.

    3. Toby Keith says:

      If Missouri passes that Branson won’t be the only tourist draw!

    4. Ben says:

      The only way we are going to be victorious
      is to push for changes where we can make them.

      Use your votes, use your voice.

      A vote for Hillary is a vote for more of the rhetoric which has obfuscated the truth,
      and buried legalized cannabis under a pile of filth. Bernie will actually get America up to speed, just in time to walk in stride with our friend, Trudeau of Canada.

      Remember, the whole line of argument about the unknowns and risks of cannabis,
      are overshadowed by the fact that,
      even with what we DO KNOW-
      1-alcohol (nearly most dangerous for user/society),
      2-cigarettes (nearly most addictive/costly)
      ARE LEGAL.

      — not to mention all the pharma ads with all the multitude of side effects listed in a commercial, rounded off by an image of smiling face, and a voice actor continuing, saying, “…see if DRUG_XYZ is right for you. Ask your doctor today.”

      Use your votes, use your voice.

      (This message was made possible because of NORML. Support our allies in this, and we will be victorious.)

      Use your votes, use your voice.

    5. Mike says:

      I thought Illinois was voting on legalizing recreational cannabis also? I’m so excited about it because I live in Illinois! I just pray it happens because it would help our state out soooo much. Plus I’m tired of smoking Mexican bullshit weed that’s been packed in god knows what. Taste like soap and seeds. Yuck! But more importantly it will slow down drug cartels. I know the weed industry takes in tons of money! Why don’t us Americans use this money for something good instead of having a huge black market. I think all drugs should be legal because people are not hurting anyone but themselves. And it would be better if they treated addicts like sick people instead of criminals. But cannabis should be legal in the whole United States! it’s ridiculous that people have to pick up and move, just to use a plant. I hope you feel me, peace and love!

    6. TheOracle says:

      Pennsylvania is becoming ripe to become the first state whose legislature legalizes both medical and recreational in one fell swoop the longer Harrisburg dicks around and can’t agree on a state budget. The embattled state’s Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, is a democrat and has states she’s against any kind of legal marijuana, including medical, as she thinks it’s a gateway drug. She’s embroiled in a scandal, and her law licenses has been pulled. The state is having to pay a team of out of state high powered lawyers in her defense because she’s still in office.

      I say the legislature votes her out of office, then since they don’t want to tax Marcellus Shale, come up with legislation to legalize medical marijuana, with adult recreational scheduled to become legal 6 months to a year after medical legalization goes into effect. They could make it look like just medical is being legalized if they include language in the law that states that every year the state has to revisit legalizing adult recreational. Someone just needs to come out and be the lightning rod for broaching that with the public. The longer there is no state budget, the more desperate the public will become and more likely agree to legal MMJ and legal recreational.

      Any organizations or industry movers and shakers out there willing to put together the legislation and press releases and radio and tv ads to make it happen in early 2016?

    7. Julian says:

      @Toby,
      Yes Toby, but the real question is will you Ever Smoke Weed with Willie Again?

    8. Mark Lee says:

      The attorney spearheading Iowa’s medical legislation is a very well intentioned man named Carl Olsen. Rather than depending on the services of in state professionals, such as myself, when he is in need of scientific/medical testimony he is joined before our state Legislature by GW Pharma. To the best of my knowledge there are only two open professionals, besides me, in the state. I do not like the Pharmaceutical Industry as the major scientific resource for any degree of legalization, for any state.
      This “war” has so fractured our nation that I will only use the term America as there is nothing united about the state of our country any longer.
      I direct a research team that has the answers needed for legalization. Not a new disease cure as those will come, but the “Root Cause” for human’s attraction to cannabis. Unbelievably this has been nearly accomplished using native flora and fauna, but we must relocate so this may be completed in a grow-op such as I once managed for seven successful years. Profits can be discussed privately, but we have a lot to offer including cannabis provided to anyone who shows the type of attraction we know we can discover. We simply need to create a grow, or team with an existing grow to complete our vital work in cannabis. Reach me at Whyiowa4medical on Twitter, I will not ignore rogue grows in Corporate Cannabis states as we can provide clearance for a “no raid” operation.

    9. Kevin says:

      In Kentucky Perry Clark pre-filed “The Cannabis Freedom Act”. I don’t know how much traction it will gain, but at least we have a bill addressing medical & recreational reform.

      [Paul Armentano responds: NORML’s legislative alert for The Cannabis Freedom Act is online here: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17979. The 2016 Kentucky legislative session begins on January 5.]

    10. Toby Keith says:

      @julian
      Not in Missouri or the south…….maybe in the future!

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