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NORML’s Legislative Round Up February 5th, 2016

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director February 5, 2016

    map_leafThis week we have an array of legislative updates ranging from more bills being introduced, other bills stalling, and everything in between. We have news out of Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, Utah and Washington D.C.! Keep reading below to get the latest in marijuana law reform this week.

    Federal:

    The Marijuana Advertising in Legal States (MAILS) Act was introduced this week by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici. This legislation would “reverse the outdated declaration by the U.S. Postal Service in December 2015 that prohibited the mailing of newspapers with ads offering to buy or sell marijuana, even if the marijuana-related ad complies with state law.” Senator Wyden says, “Our bill updates the federal approach to marijuana, ending the threat to news publications that choose to accept advertising from legal marijuana businesses in Oregon and other states where voters also have freely decided to legalize marijuana.”

    Democrat Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made comments this week in response to a question at a town hall meeting from a medical marijuana patient who asked what she would do to decriminalize the drug. Clinton responded boldly saying, “She would do a lot.” She reiterated her support for states to decide the issue and reaffirmed that, if elected President, she would reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act to a Schedule II substance. She stated, “I have no doubt there are very real benefits to people.”

    Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also made comments this week related to marijuana policy when he addressed the question, “If elected, how would your administration address the current tension between state and federal marijuana laws?” Sanders responded, “As President, I would direct HHS and DOJ to immediately review if marijuana should be rescheduled or descheduled under the Controlled Substances Act, and I would instruct DOJ not to interfere with states who have legalized or decriminalized marijuana.”

    State:
    Arizona: House Bill 2007, was introduced to defelonize minor marijuana possession offenses.Under present law, marijuana possession is classified as a felony, punishable by up to two years in jail. House Bill 2007 reclassifies minor marijuana possession offenses from a felony to a civil offense, punishable by a fine only — no arrest, no criminal prosecution, and no criminal record. #TakeAction

    California: Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that seeks to dissuade California cities and counties from enacting municipal restrictions on the cultivation and dispensing of medical marijuana by amending a drafting error in the The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. It also removes objectionable language authorizing local governments to prohibit patients from cultivating, storing, donating, or processing marijuana for their own personal use, and by doing so, reaffirms that qualified patients have the right under state law to engage in personal cultivation absent a city or state license.

    Florida: House legislation, House Bill 271, redefines industrial hemp as an agricultural crop and establishes licensing regulations to allow for the plant’s cultivation. A committee substitute version of the bill was unanimously approved by members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Tuesday, February 2nd. We’ll keep you updated as this legislation moves forward. #TakeActionindustrial_hemp

    Hawaii: Objectionable legislation is pending in the House to eliminate patients’ longstanding rights to cultivate medical marijuana. House Bill 1680 repeals patients’ legal authority to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis. Criminalizing the personal cultivation of cannabis is an arbitrary prohibition that has absolutely no basis in public safety. For sixteen years, thousands of Hawaii patients have possessed the ability to cultivate personal use qualities of medicinal marijuana. There exists no evidence that this law has led to any sort of widespread abuse or public safety threat.. #TakeAction

    Illinois: Legislation is pending in the Senate to expand Illinois’ hemp law to promote hemp-related commerce. The act seeks to establish regulations for the Department of Agriculture to license persons “desiring to grow, process, cultivate, harvest, process, possess, sell, or purchase industrial hemp or industrial hemp related products.” #TakeAction

    In separate news, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner this week rejected a recommendation from the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to expand the state’s medical marijuana program by adding eight additional qualifying conditions. For more information on organizing patients’ efforts in Illinois, please contact Illinois NORML.

    Kansas: Members of the Senate voted 38 to 1 on Wednesday, February 3, in favor of a Committee substitute version of HB 2049 to reduce criminal penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenses from a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year incarceration and a $2,500 fine) to a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by no more than six months in jail and a $1,000 fine). Second convictions will no longer be classified as a felony offense. The amended language now returns to the House for a concurrence vote. #TakeAction

    Maine: Marijuana legalization advocates turned in more than 100,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office this week in hopes of meeting the 60,000 requirement to qualify for the 2016 ballot. Read more about this campaign here.

    Maryland: House Bill 443 is pending in the General Assembly to permit the Department of Agriculture to authorize institutions of higher education to cultivate industrial hemp for academic research purposes.This legislation is scheduled to be heard Wednesday, February 10th by members of the Environment and Transportation Committee at 1:00PM. #TakeAction

    Separate legislation, House Bill 665, seeks to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2016 ballot to regulate adult marijuana use. If approved by lawmakers, the bill would allow voters to decide if they wish to regulate the commercial cultivation, processing, and retail of marijuana to adults over the age of 21. You can read the full text of this proposal here. #TakeActionlegalization_poll

    New Jersey: Assembly Bill 2050, legislation to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses in New Jersey, is pending in the General Assembly. If approved, the legislation would remove criminal penalties for those who possess 15 grams of marijuana or less. New Jersey’s 24,765 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2013 was the state’s highest number in 20 years. #TakeAction

    Rhode Island: Governor Gina Raimondo has proposed that a new tax be imposed upon state qualified patients who choose to cultivate their own cannabis. The proposed taxes range from $150 per plant for an individual patient up to $350 per plant for growers with cultivator licenses. The proposed tax is rightfully drawing fire, from patients and other concerned citizens. For more information on efforts to oppose this change, please visit the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition.

    Utah: On Thursday, February 4th, members of the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee moved SB 73, the Medical Cannabis Act, to the Senate floor. The legislation seeks to amend state law to permit for the state-licensed cultivation of cannabis, including strains with higher THC content, for the manufacturing of medicinal products and/or herbal preparations. We’ll keep you updated as this measure continues to move forward. #TakeAction

    Virginia: House and Senate lawmakers set aside legislation that sought to eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana possession offenses. On February 3rd, Senate Bill 104, was passed by indefinitely by the Courts of Justice Committee in an 11-4 vote. This action stalls any legislative progress for now, but allows for the committee to reconsider legislation at a later meeting. It is apparent by these actions that Virginia lawmakers need to hear from constituents that marijuana law reform ought to be a legislative priority. #TakeAction

    Washington D.C.: A bill aimed at permanently banning private marijuana clubs in the District was pulled on Tuesday and instead Council members passed an amendment to create a seven member taskforce to look into the issue more closely. The taskforce will be made up of two members from the D.C. Council, one from the Office of the D.C. Attorney General and five from city agencies, including the Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. Health Department, who will be appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser.

    11 Responses to “NORML’s Legislative Round Up February 5th, 2016”

    1. delayed justice is denied justice

      • Todd says:

        A civil discussion would be the Constitutional process according to our Bill of Rights:
        Congress shall make no law …abridging … the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Amendment 1)
        In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right …to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor. (Amendment 6)

    2. Julian says:

      C’mon DC! Don’t make me drive up there all the way from Texas to lobby for my marijuana lobbies! Its time to blow smoke in the face of Congress… Literally!

      What an incredible story with Kansas; Shona Banda, the good Lord is doing his work through you… Keep up the faith, because whatever you’re doing, its working!

      • Mark I. says:

        Kansas needs cannabis for phytoremediation efforts just below the states’ stockyards to give the recreational users of the state’s waterways their playgrounds back.

    3. Julian says:

      I had just received a letter from Senator Cruz replying how proud he was that he supported and co-sponsored the previous Sentencing Reform bill, so I knew something terribly bad was about to happen. But I couldn’t imagine this:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/opinion/sunday/holding-sentencing-reform-hostage.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

      Senator Cruz is holding up the new Sentencing Reform hostage in Congress, the bill that has the best chance ever of ending mandatory minimums and small, non-violent possessions of drugs including marijuana, because he supports a preposterous and unwarranted amendment to the bill that protects corporations from financial and environmental prosecution.

      I know, I could have just said “Cruz tears families apart and feeds their babies to alligators.” Same thing.

      What a spineless, two-faced P.O.S.! Cruz must have no balls and no brains if he thinks the American people won’t notice this! I’ll spare you all what else I wrote to him just now. Good work at the Times for putting this on their front page.

      Meanwhile, here’s what we can do; If you are from Texas, Go to the Take Action link on the top right hand corner and click on Sander’s End the Federal Prohibition of Marijuana Act. Then add your own script into the dialogue box and let Cruz know how you feel about his recent action to stall Sentencing Reform by attempting to protect corporations from financial and environmental prosecutions.

      At this point, it is obvious that Congress has the CDC turned against us, because if they were doing their job they’s be spraying Congress with pesticide and putting Cruz in quarantine where he belongs.

      • Danny says:

        I completely agree. I am a conservative that supports gay marriage and fully legalized marijuana for everyone. I will NOT be voting for any candidate that is anti legalization. So I will be voting Democrat for the foreseeable future. They will NEVER stop people from using ever!

    4. TheOracle says:

      Pennsylvania is still running its economy into the ground and massing up the debt of the state’s government.

      Washington state dig out ought to be ready in time for fall elections for Pennsylvania’s legislature to outright legalize, finally going with the momentum instead of being one big roadblock.

      De Blasio, medical marijuana is not only smart but it’s the start. NY’s medical marijuana situation is ineffective and louse by design. Is Bill totally useless to the cannabis community, or will he move toward full legalization, put the gas on medical cannabis, or what?

    5. Mark I. says:

      Kansas is trying to balance their budget shortfalls by stealing from the students, disenfranchised, and the voiceless. LEOs are stealing from the roads and homes of the states occupants and the legislators are stealing from the children.

    6. jim says:

      Does anyone know of a resource that could answer a question, if a county in cali. passes legislation prohibiting a dispensary can a town or city pass legislation that allows one in the city or town limits?

    7. TheOracle says:

      The Daily Chronic is reporting that the Democrat governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, attended a MMJ rally at the capital, Harrisburg, and called for the state House to move the legislation to his desk. I also saw him on a Harrisburg tv station, and people were blaming the holdup on the state Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Turzai.

      http://www.thedailychronic.net/2016/53436/pa-governor-speaks-at-medical-marijuana-rally-we-need-to-get-this-done/

      Harrisburg, the capital, is looking to decriminalize marijuana possession along the lines of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, something that needs to be replicated in cities across the state, from big cities right down to small cities. The cities are the Democratic enclaves of the state, while the rural areas tend to vote Republican

      http://www.wgal.com/news/harrisburg-mulls-reclassifying-marijuana-as-a-summary-offense/37886374

    8. Frant says:

      I get so excited (and relaxed at the same time) that after 50 years of waiting for this – it may actually happen. All I can say is “its about time”…..I hope I live long enough to see this happen….I lived in Hawaii 40 years ago – and there was a cloud over the state…..(supposedly ‘illegal’ but with all the people growing……when you know how it goes…..NYC got our there and were all smoking opening during a protest – ya know – you can’t arrest them all….there’s ‘power in people”…..

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