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Weekly Legislative Roundup, 1/28/2017

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director January 28, 2017

    blogstickerWelcome to this week’s edition of the legislative roundup. With prohibitionists fighting nationwide, from Massachusetts to deny the will of the voters with the implementation of legalization to Hawaii where the state is seeking to impose increased monitoring of drivers who may be under the influence of marijuana, NORML is constantly working to fight the rising tide of anti-science legislation cropping up.

    On the proactive “Team Rationality” side, NORML chapters are advancing efforts from reducing criminal penalties in Virginia to expanding worker protections for cannabis consumers in Washington state.

    Below are the priority bills that we’ve tracked this week, with more being posted on our http://norml.org/act page every day.

    If you have not yet, make sure to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

    Thanks for all you do,

    Justin

     

    Arkansas

    Legislative efforts are pending to amend the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana law in a manner that would restrict qualified patients from smoking herbal preparations of the plant. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson indicates that he favors the plan.

    NORML opposes this effort to fundamentally change the law for the following reasons.

    The inhalation of herbal cannabis is associated with the rapid onset of drug effect while the oral consumption of other preparations, such as oils, extracts, or pills, is associated with significantly delayed onset. For patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms, such as those suffering from severe nausea, seizures, or spasms, inhaling herbal cannabis is the fastest and most effective route of administration. Inhaling cannabis also permits patients to better regulate their dose.

    Further, the effects of orally ingested cannabis are far less predictable in comparison to inhaled cannabis. This is because there exists far greater variability in the ways that marijuana is metabolized when it is consumed orally — meaning that patients may experience disparate and even dysphoric effects from dose to dose, even in instances where the dose is standardized.

    AR Resident? Click here to email your representatives to oppose this effort.

    Additionally, SB 130 prohibits individuals from operating a motor vehicle if they have 5 or more nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood. NORML opposes  this proposal.

    It should not be presumed that the detection of THC is predictive of psychomotor impairment and such a presumption should not be codified in Arkansas traffic safety statutes. The imposition and enforcement of this measure risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations.

    AR Resident? Click here to email your representatives to oppose this effort.

    Hawaii

    Legislation is pending, SB 548, to legalize the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana for those over the age of 21.

    According to 2014 statewide poll, 66 percent of Hawaii voters support the taxation and regulation of marijuana.

    HI Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

    Additionally, Legislation is pending, SB 17, that seeks to establish a per se limit of “five nanograms or more per milliliter of active tetrahydrocannabinol” for anyone driving a motor vehicle.

    NORML opposes this proposal.

    It should not be presumed that the detection of THC is predictive of psychomotor impairment and such a presumption should not be codified in Hawaii traffic safety statutes. The imposition and enforcement of this measure risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations.

    HI Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

    Massachusetts

    On Wednesday, December 28, a handful of lawmakers met in a special session and voted to delay the roll out of retail marijuana providers from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2018. As summarized by The Boston Globe, “The extraordinary move, made in informal sessions with just a half-dozen legislators present, would unravel a significant part of the legalization measure passed by 1.8 million voters just last month.” Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill into law just two days later.

    But this was only the beginning.

    Now, Senator Jason M. Lewis is proposing bills that would reduce the amount of marijuana that an individual can possess, restrict the number of plants that a person can grow, and ban various forms of THC infused products including edibles.

    The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is shocking, and is typified by the comments of Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg who, only hours after the vote, pronounced: “I believe that when voters vote on most ballot questions, they are voting in principle. They are not voting on the fine detail that is contained within the proposal.”

    It’s time for you to send another clear message to your lawmakers: Abide by voters’ decision or suffer the consequences.

    MA Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

    Nebraska

    State Senator Anna Wishart has introduced comprehensive medical marijuana legislation, LB622.

    Senator Wishart’s bill is similar to legislation that was introduced in 2016 and narrowly defeated. LB622 will allow patients with conditions such as Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, opioid addictions and some types of cancer to obtain marijuana. Additionally it would permit patients to grow up to 12 plants and/or possess up to six ounces of cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Last year’s bill was narrowly defeated by lawmakers.

    Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Nebraska patients deserve these same protections.

    NE Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

    New Hampshire

    After nearly a decade of frustration, 2017 may finally be the year that New Hampshire voters successfully see marijuana possession decriminalized.

    HB640, sponsored by 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats, will amend criminal penalties for marijuana possession is pending in the House, where lawmakers have overwhelmingly supported such efforts for eight years in a row. However, legislators this year are hopeful that, for the first time, they also have sufficient votes to also clear the Senate.

    NH Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

    Additionally, Multiple bills are pending before lawmakers to expand the pool of patients eligible to qualify for medical marijuana therapy.

    In particular, these measures would permit patients with conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress to obtain legal access to marijuana.

    Most recently, an exhaustive report released by the National Academies of Sciences determined that there is “conclusive” evidence that cannabis is “effective for the treatment of chronic pain.” Authors concluded, “In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids (constituents found organically in the marijuana plant) are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction of pain symptoms.”

    NH Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

    New York

    Senator Liz Krueger (D) has introduced the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in the New York General Legislature.

    The act legalizes possession and cultivation, and would establish a market for legal marijuana for adults 21 and older.

    NY Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

    North Dakota

    Legislation is pending, HB 1340, in the statehouse to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and marijuana-related paraphernalia.

    Under existing law, marijuana possession of one ounce or less is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, while the possession of greater amounts are classified as a felony offense punishable by up to five years in prison. Possessing marijuana-related paraphernalia is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

    ND Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

    Virginia

    UPDATE: SB1091 has passed the full Senate by a vote of 38-2 and HB 2051 has passed it’s first committee vote in the House of Delegates.

    State Senators Adam Ebbin (D), Bill Stanley (R) and Delegate Les Adams (R) have introduced SB 1091 and HB 2051 respectively, legislation that would remove the mandatory driver’s license suspension currently imposed for those with a marijuana possession conviction.

    Under current law, any drug conviction, regardless of whether or not a motor vehicle was involved, results in an automatic suspension of the individual’s driving privileges for 6 months.

    VA Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

    Additionally, SB 1298 has cleared the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on a 9-4 vote as it seeks to establish affirmative defense for possession of cannabidiol if an individual has written certification that they require the substance due to an approved medical condition.

    Affirmative defense establishes a basic set of facts surrounding cannabidiol possession cases. If someone with a qualifying medical condition is caught possessing marijuana, an affirmative defense for the individual would likely result in a more lenient punishment.

    VA Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

    Washington

    UPDATE: HB 1212 has passed committee, making it the first piece of legislation for home cultivation in Washington state history.

    Legislation is pending before the House, HB 1094 and HB 1212, to prohibit employers from discriminating against patients who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours.

    The bill amends existing law so that: “An employer  may not refuse to hire a qualifying patient, discharge or bar a qualifying patient from employment, or discriminate against a qualifying patient in compensation or in other terms and conditions of employment because of the qualifying patient’s: (i) Status as a qualifying patient; or (ii) Positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites.”

    Changes in the legal status of marijuana has not been associated with any adverse changes in workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that legalization is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

    WA Resident? Click here to email your representatives to urge them to support this effort.

     

     

    22 Responses to “Weekly Legislative Roundup, 1/28/2017”

    1. Brandi says:

      In Utah at the beginning of the week there were five cannabis bills being proposed, and yesterday the legislature let us all know that they will not be pursuing any of them. They have used the excuse that they don’t know where President Trump is headed and will not even have the conversation this year. Many people have put so many hours of work into this legislation season, and we are getting completely screwed. So as of yesterday the ballot initiation has begun, there’s quite a few different groups that are working together to make this happen, we need all the support that we can get here in Utah!! Thank you

    2. Tony says:

      Don’t forget Maryland new bill to be introduced on Monday. We really need everyones help to get Maryland up to speed like our Bothers and Sisters in California,Colorado,Oregon, Washington, Alaska,Washington D.C. Nevada,Maine and Massachusetts.Please help us our States economy really needs this.

    3. Julian says:

      Delay is the enemy? Then we need to read up on our reps and be prepared. Dress up, read up and visit your state legislators.
      The focus of our resistance to a billionaire prohibitionist coup is at the state level. With that said,

      http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19787

      Our best strategic focus at the federal level is to lobby for HR331 and kill asset forfeitures. The talking point to your Rep is: “If the Sheriff’s Association can use our tax dollars to seperate sick children from their families for posession of the safest most effective treatment available to them, marijuana, then it’s past time to seperate law enforcement from their asset forfeitures and make them persue real crimes like rape and murder or voter caging;

      http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/inside-trumps-bogus-investigation-voter-fraud-lies-gops-long-crusade-keep-people?akid=15158.2366751.7bzBKC&rd=1&src=newsletter1071282&t=8

      Evidence:

      http://www.thebestdemocracymoneycanbuy.com

      Even if there wasnt a paper trail from the crossfire program, I liken it to the hemp “conspiracy” …just because there aint $#!+ in the bowl doesnt mean we should drink out of it. A toilet is a toilet. And while I respect that we dont need bigger enemies than we already have in this legalization movement, leading us too often to dismiss the Koch brothers or Chris Kobach as a conspiracy for prohibition, we cant afford to stand by and watch some billionaires rape our economy and say “theres no evidence they dont want marijuana illegal.” Marijuana prohibition has been more effective for Democratic minority voter supression than the entire Crossfire program that stole the election for Drumph. If you dont believe me, load up a bowl, (a clean one, preferably) click on the link and learn about the few batman villains that are stealing our Democratic Republic. Then you tell me whether any of these billionaire bloodsucking bastards want marijuana legalized?

      • Evening Bud says:

        Julian,

        You’re right on about the asset forfeitures. The fact that you don’t even have to be frigging GUILTY of a crime, and still have your assets taken away, is especially insidious.

        Gee, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we use asset forfeiture on Wall Street bankers? A bank’s CEO commits fraud? Everything goes folks! Everything! They could start with the slimy CEOs of Wells Fargo.

    4. Mark Mitcham says:

      Regarding MA:
      Democrats and Progressives need to severely punish state Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester).

      There’s no excuse for Democrats anymore. None. They’ve been fully advised; they can’t claim ignorance anymore — from now on, if they try to pull that prohibitionist shit, just fire their asses.

      Never mind the Republicans for the moment. The Republicans are bat-shit crazy, no doubt. There may be no hope for those lunatics.

      But the Democrats should, and do, know better. Let’s clean our own house: Get rid of the traitor Jason Lewis.

      Here’s an excerpt from stopthedrugwar.org:

      “Massaschusetts Bills Would Gut Legalization Law. Hardline marijuana foe state Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) has filed legislation that would deeply curb the ability of state residents to possess and grow marijuana and threaten the ability of recreational pot shops to begin selling a full range of products next year. Lewis would delay the ability of pot shops, now set to open in July 2018, to sell edibles and concentrates for at least two more years, and he would dramatically increase the ability of local governments to reject marijuana businesses. Under the legalization law, they must go to the voters, but Lewis’s legislation would undo that. Groups that led the successful November legalization initiative are vowing a vigorous fightback. His package of 14 bills was filed last Friday, the last day to do so.”

      • Libertarian, not Liberal! says:

        Way to show your political intolerance there buddy. Guess you smoked too much to grasp the FACT that there is a libertarian wing of the GOP. The Republican monolith is a myth.

        • Mark Mitcham says:

          In the nineties, I went to a protest in Indianapolis, organized by MPP, on behalf of an ailing, bed-bound individual who was arrested and prosecuted for a fraction of an ounce of cannabis.

          There weren’t a lot of us there. About a van-full. But we had our signs, we took our places, and we got noticed. We interacted with the citizens walking by. Many were supportive. A few were hostile. But we were seen and heard.

          Half of us were far-left progressives; the other half of us were far-right libertarians. No one showed up representing “status-quo.”

          We engaged in honest-to-god bipartisanship. We ignored our differences in labels, and focused on the protest.

          So there: credit where credit is due. Happy?

          Now your turn, GOP smart-ass: Do you regret your big whopping mistake when you voted for Trump? Or were you just a third-party enabler? How’s that working out for you?

        • Mark Mitcham says:

          I correct myself: there was more than a van-full of protesters at the Indianapolis protest. It was only our van-full of six or seven protesters that I intended to describe as politically split.

        • Julian says:

          Will Libertarian Senator Jeff Flake R-AZ on the Senate Judiciary betray us and vote for Sessions? According to Politico, he already indicated he will. How do Libertarians contend with this? This after Flake rightfully voted against AG Lynch’s nomination for her support of asset forfeitures. And yet Sessions makes Lynch’s support for asset forfeitures look like a lunch ticket while he runs all the slop in the cafeteria of disproprtionate property acquisition and Democratic voter supression.
          When Flake flakes out, will you still be able to call yourself a Libertarian? Better call Flake before he flakes out…

    5. scot says:

      it’s great that your granting the people who don’t work the
      right to smoke weed, the people who work and pay taxes are exempt from your phony legal policies. why drug test for a legal product? BECAUSE ITS NOT LEGAL! ANYWHERE IN AMERICA!

      • Ben says:

        It should and will be legal-
        and this country will both MAKE and SAVE billion$.

        Colorado, Oregon, and Washington,
        (not to mention DC) are having minimal issues,
        and in some metrics, things are actually better.

      • Julian says:

        NORML advocates there is no scientific way to determine when someone has been impaired or under the psychoactive influence of marijuana, citing stidirs from the NHSA, AAA and various contolled studies. With that said, employers can piss test all they want and lose their best talent. The trick for piss testing is to cut the lies out of insurance with evidence, not uninformed, finger pointing hysteria like you are doing now.

        You could read this webpage before you post so you dont have to attack a potential ally… if your cause is to reduce piss testing or potalyzer legislation, NORML is at the forefront of this effort. Reducing prison time takes priority. Dont let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        You’ve got it backwards, buddy! Weed is legal in many places. Workplace drug testing just means employers are dicks, that’s all. But that’s Corporate America! They don’t have to drug test you, they do it because they’re dicks, and it makes them money.

        Quit your job and get a hair! Stoners have jobs, too, you know. Tell your employer you smoke weed, if they don’t like it, fuck them. Keep doing that until you find a job that respects your human and civil rights.

        Or are you addicted to their money?

    6. Anonymous says:

      There’s also a bill in Arkansas to delay the medical marijuana law until the Feds legalize marijuana.. On every other issue Sen. Rapert is a rabid states rights guy. And Arkansas has a Republican super majority in the legislature. Not good.

    7. Anonymous says:

      So this week in Arkansas bill are filed to.
      1. Ban Smoked Medical Marijuana
      2. Ban Edible Marijuana
      3. Delay Medical Marijuana until federal legalization
      4. Ban Marijuana from ANY location in the state.
      And the Republicans have a 3/4 majority in the legislature.
      In football there’s a penalty for “piling on”

      [Paul Armentano responds: NORML Has action alerts opposing these legislative measures here: http://www.norml.org/act.

    8. Julian says:

      Talk to your legislators. Whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, if they are from our district they cannot represent us clearly if we dont meet with them. Just maybe, through hard work, reading the bills snd speaking clearly and respectfully we can say “WE” are reforming marijuana law and include our state legislators.
      I work closely with self identified Libertarians at the state level here in Texas to reform marijuana law. We need to work together.
      With that said, we need to contact our libertarian Senators; the question of freedom or betrayal from Libertarians at the federal level will be determined by the Senate floor vote on Sessions as USAG. My Senator Cruz ki$$ing Se$$ion$ @$$ makes no surprise. Cruz has loyalty only to the same billionaire donors Trump is courting that sponsored voter caging on elections. And Cruz flipped on objecting mandatory minimums at the last minute vote. About as spineless as Rubio.
      But Senators Jeff Flake, R-AZ and Rand Paul R-KY? They have to reveal their true colors on the AG vote. Do Libertarians stand up to the Federal government intruding in our daily lives? Do Libertarians really mean it when they say the government “has no business regulating what we put into our bodies?” Or does that all go out the window when voting for Sen. Sessions? Call your Senators now. 202-224-3121

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        The Sessions vote pins everyone to the wall, Democrats and Republicans alike. A “Yes” vote is indefensible by any legitimate standard that any Democrat or Republican could produce.

        After the vote, for every Senator, we will pin their true colors to their chest. Any Senator who votes to confirm Sessions…

        …is a fucking racist! Never forget it. Any Senator who votes to confirm Sessions will carry the name “Sessions” on their chest like a scarlet letter, and will forever be known as a complicit enabler of white supremacist power.

        Goddamn chickenshit politicians.

      • Julian says:

        And theres our answer:
        https://www.google.com/amp/amp.usatoday.com/story/97335598/?client=safari

        Sessions approved by the Senate Judiciary 9 to 11. All Democrats opposed
        All Republicans, including the Flake himself, a yes.

        Anyone who calls themselves Libertarian has to think hard about what this betrayal means for their party’s identity, which just sold its soul to prohibition. I’ll say it again; Senator Jeff Flake opposed the confirmation of AG Loretta because she supported Asset Forfeitures:

        Jeff Sessions is the Devil’s advocate for Asset Forfeitures, disproportionate incarceration and voter caging of people of color and Democratic votes.

        What happened to “the Federal government cant tell us what to put in our bodies?” What happened to “We the People?” Or “defending states rights?” Libertarians sold out to the Koch Cock again.
        When will Libertarian voters learn?

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