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NORML’s Legislative Round Up February 26th, 2016

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate February 26, 2016

    map_leafThe Vermont Senate approved legalization legislation this week! We also have several additional international updates from around the globe.

    International:

    Australia: Members of Australia’s House and Senate approved legislation this week to amend federal law to permit for the licensed production and distribution of cannabis to qualified patients. The move by Parliament follows recent efforts by several Australian territories to provide patients participating in clinical trials with access to the plant. Government officials will still need to develop and approve regulations for the new program before any production licenses can be issued.

    Canada: A federal court in Canada ruled this week that government officials cannot prohibit physician-authorized patients from growing their own supply of medical cannabis. The decision strikes down regulations enacted in 2013 that sought to take away patients’ longstanding authority to grow personal use quantities of cannabis.

    The judge’s ruling provides Parliament with six months to create new rules governing the regulation and distribution of medical cannabis in a manner that no longer requires patients to obtain medicine solely from federally-licensed, private third party providers. NORML Canada ‘s John Conroy served as lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case, while NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano served as an expert witness and filed an affidavit in the case.

    Federal:

    In an interview from last year but only recently made public, former US Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged that marijuana should “certainly be rescheduled”. He said, “You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate. So at a minimum, I think Congress needs to do that. Then I think we need to look at what happens in Colorado and what happens in Washington.”

    While NORML agrees that marijuana’s current classification in the Controlled Substances Act is inappropriate, NORML believes in descheduling cannabis, not rescheduling the plant. In an article published this week on Alternet, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano outlines why rescheduling cannabis does not go far enough and advocates for why it should be removed from the CSA altogether.

    State:

    greenhouseGeorgia: Legislation has been introduced, House Bill 1046, to amend state law so that minor marijuana offenders no longer face jail time. If approved, the legislation would make the first time possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a $250 fine. Subsequent offenses would result in a $500 fine for the second offense and $750 fine for the third offense. #TakeAction

    Hawaii: Pending legislation, Senate Bill 2787, to further encourage the state Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp for “research and development purposes” was approved by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor this week. The committee approved an amended version of the legislation in a 4-0 vote. #TakeAction

    Pennsylvania: Members of the Harrisburg City Council have scheduled two separate public meetings to discuss a proposal to redefine municipal marijuana possession offenses from a misdemeanor to a citation. The meetings will be Thursday March 10 at the Harrisburg Area Community College midtown campus, Midtown 2, Room 206, at 1500 North Third Street and Thursday March 24 at the city’s public works building at 1820 Paxton Street. Both meetings will start at 5:30 p.m.

    Michigan: Newly introduced Senate legislation, SB 813, seeks to permit for the personal possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana. Under the measure, adults would be permitted to possess and grow personal use quantities of the plant, and a system would be established for the retail production and sale of cannabis. Similar legislation introduced in the fall of 2015, HB 4877, remains pending in the Judiciary Committee. #TakeAction

    Vermont: Members of the Senate voted 17 to 12 on Thursday in favor of legislation, Senate Bill 241, to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of cannabis. The historic vote marks the first time that any legislative chamber in the state has ever approved legislation to permit the adult use and retail sale of cannabis.

    The Senate’s action was praised by Gov. Shumlin, who is backing the measure. The measure now will be debated by members of the Vermont House. #TakeAction

    marijuana_gavelWest Virginia: House Bill 4712 was introduced this week to depenalize marijuana possession offenses. The legislation removes marijuana from West Virginia’s list of schedule I drugs and removes all state criminal and civil penalties associated with the substance. Additionally, the proposal allows adults 21 and older to cultivate up to six cannabis plants, and to transfer up to one ounce of cannabis to another person age 21 or older without remuneration. #TakeAction

    In addition, senate legislation is pending to permit qualified patients access to medical cannabis. Senate Bill 640 permits qualified patients to engage in marijuana therapy and to cultivate (up to 12 mature plants) and to possess (up to six ounces) personal use amounts of cannabis. The measure also seeks to establish a permitting process for “registered compassion centers”, which will be licensed to produce and dispense medicinal cannabis to qualified patients. The bill is before the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee. You can read the full text of this measure here. Companion legislation, House Bill 4680, has also been filed in the House of Representatives. #TakeAction

    15 Responses to “NORML’s Legislative Round Up February 26th, 2016”

    1. Julian says:

      Words cannot express the depth of gratitude this nation owes to the Vermont Senate for representing the will of the people who elected them into office. The legal implications of this little state will be far reaching, and mark the climactic tipping point of our American Marijuana Tragedy for generations to come.
      We can’t help but wonder at the leadership and influence of Senator Sanders on this legislation, an Independent from Vermont, as he ascends to historic primary votes this Tuesday as a Democratic candidate.
      We need to keep writing Senator Sanders and let him know that he MUST explain that Hillary’s platform to REschedule to schedule II, the same as cocaine, is still sponsoring prohibition, while the federal legislation he introduced to deschedule marijuana is the first legislation that would end federal prohibition of marijuana. It is a shame if all Democratic voters aren’t aware of this fact before this Tuesday.

    2. Cat Cassie says:

      Wow! Way to go Vermont! Good for you too WV! Looks like things are starting to happen on the East Coast. It’s just a matter of time before freedom rings for everyone.

    3. Don M says:

      Wow – If West Virginia’s House Bill 4712 passes, my family will consider moving there from Virginia since it’s not that far away! It seems like most of Virginia’s lawmakers want to continue the status quo of locking people up and stealing their stuff (Civil Asset Forfeiture).

      Senator Ebbin is one of the few voices of sanity here and I salute him for his efforts to end the stupidity of prohibition here.

    4. bobwv says:

      I hope soon to nicely ask an not gestapo officer what’s it’s like to not enforce treason and mass murder.

    5. Tom says:

      People have no idea who or what they are voting for anymore , what a shame !

    6. TheOracle says:

      Hear! Hear! I want cannabis completely descheduled. I don’t want it in the Schedule, the CSA, at all. It never belonged there in the first place.

      Harrisburg, Pennsylvania hopefully will make it only a citation in the near future, with other cities following and doing the same.

      Congratulations to Vermont are preliminary, but congratulations. Canada is legalizing, and you share a border with them. The frustrating part is waiting for it to happen, until adult recreational is actually available and being sold. Prohibitionists could stretch this shit out for who knows how long, you know, they’ve been doing it for such a long time.

      I’m hoping there are no setbacks to California moving forward with legalizing adult recreational. The prohibitionists should then acknowledge their defeat. Prohibition outsourced to Mexico basically, and now the states closest are legalizing, regulating to re-stabilize their communities, which means stop using prohibition to ruin families and lives and stop letting criminal run the marijuana sector. It’s all about public safety. To that end, cannabis banking needs to be legal right now!

    7. Dave says:

      Donald Trump: Leave Legalization to the States

      In a surprise move, Donald Trump has announced his support of a federalist stance regarding the question of marijuana reform, in which questions of regulated adult use should be “left to the states.” The Republican presidential candidate, fresh off his win of the New Hampshire primary, also expressed his full, unqualified support of medical marijuana reform.

      http://theleafonline.com/c/politics/2016/02/donald-trump-leave-legalization-states/

      TRUMP/2016 ??

      • Miles says:

        Screw the idea of leaving cannabis legalization to the states! This should be done nationwide at the federal level. No state should have the right to force their anti-freedom prohibitionist idiocy on their citizens.

        [Editor’s note: Ideally, cannabis legalization would be a top-to-bottom reform from the Congress. Unfortunately, members of Congress apparently must have to see a number of states first make the political move before they’re willing to act to pass legislation.

        In some ways this is logical and with historical precedent as cannabis prohibition first began at the state level circa 1913 and once a number of states had banned cannabis, so too the federal government in 1937.

        Bittersweetly, a state can’t be forced to legalize cannabis if does not want to, conversely, a state can’t be forced by the feds to have cannabis prohibition either.]

    8. Julian says:

      On the international front, action from the U.S., Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, Canada and most recently Australia is being underscored by the UNGASS meeting and change in international drug policy due this April;

      http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/heres-why-uns-big-meeting-drugs-ungass-matters-you?ms=2D1_1602FebruaryNewsletter&utm_campaign=fy16newsletter&cid=701U0000001fFWw&spMailingID=24832894&spUserID=MTMzNzExMjQ0MjY3S0&spJobID=744554290&spReportId=NzQ0NTU0MjkwS0

    9. Julian says:

      And on the presidential front, I would like to say “boo to you” for every black preacher, mayor and leader in South Carolina that took money and bait from the Hillary campaign and lead their people to more incarceration. The black vote in South Carolina was purchased for Hillary with blood money.

      And Bernie… Im so disappointed that he didn’t clarify his position between REscheduling (like Hillary) and DEscheduling marijuana (like the first bill of its kind Bernie introduced to the Senate). Bernie went so far to explain disproportionate incarceration to a black audience in Atlanta, the fact that white and black peoples consume the same amount of marijuana yet our black brothers and sisters are between 4 and 8 times likely to go to jail over it… (Except in places that have legalized, like DC…) And yet he failed to bring it up in the debates… that Hillary wants to keep prohibition by Rescheduling marijuana to the same category as cocaine!! Cocaine people!! That’s still racist prison for profit! Placing a nonviolent herb like marijuana in that same schedule, KNOWING your own children are more likely to go to prison? For SHAME.

      Bernie wants to keep your black @$$ out of jail, South Carolina and you go and vote for Hillary? S.C. has been institutionalized. And that goes for churches just as well as prisons!

    10. bobwv says:

      Here in West gestapo Virginia the news says sb640 is dead. Mass murder is addictive. They can’t give it up.

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