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Weekly Legislative Roundup, 2/3/2017

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director February 3, 2017

    revolutionbumperWelcome to this week’s edition of the legislative roundup!

    With over 800 bills being filed in state legislatures and at the federal level, marijuana policy is moving fast.

    A big thanks to the over 3,000 people who have emailed their elected officials through our action alerts in the last 6 days alone! Remember, bookmark our Action Page (http://norml.org/act) and keep checking for new updates.

    If you haven’t yet, read NORML’s Paul Armentano’s most recent op-ed in The Hill newspaper “Voters demanded pot policy changes, it’s time for lawmakers to listen.”

    Below are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week.

    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 and keep fighting,

    Justin

    PRIORITY ALERTS

    Federal

    Senate lawmakers are only days away from taking a vote that may have a drastic impact on the future of marijuana policy.

    Sessions recently was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee and during his confirmation hearing, he failed to give a straight answer with regard to how the Justice Department should respond to states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use and left the door open for federal enforcement.

    Click here to email your Senators and tell them to oppose Jeff Sessions

    Arkansas

    Senate legislation is pending, SB 238, to indefinitely halt the enactment of the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana law.

    Specifically, the measure states that Arkansas patients may not legally access medical marijuana until the substance has been federally legalized.

    This arrogant piece of legislation is a direct attempt to undermine an election outcome. Fifty-three percent of voters decided in November in favor of Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. State lawmakers have responsibility to abide by the will of the people, to do so in a timely manner, and to not let patients needlessly suffer.

    AR Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    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 elected officials now.

    Rhode Island

    A coalition of Rhode Island lawmakers has reintroduced a marijuana legalization this legislative session.  

    The bill will allow adults 21 and older to possess cannabis and will establish a framework for businesses to cultivate and distribute marijuana. While the language is similar to that of previous bills that have failed to come to a vote, lawmakers this year believe that Rhode Island is ready to catch up to its northeast neighbors.

    A majority of Rhode Island residents support legalization and Jared Moffat, Director of Regulate Rhode Island, believes: “It’s time for Rhode Island to look very seriously at this issue and pass a bill. Otherwise, we risk falling behind those other states.”

    RI Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    OTHER ACTIONS TO TAKE

    Federal

    Legislation is pending in the US House, HR 715, to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance and so that cannabidiol (CBD) is excluded from the federal definition of cannabis.

    Cannabidiol is a non-mood altering constituent in the marijuana plant that possesses a variety of therapeutic effects, particularly anti-seizure properties. Over a dozen states recognize by statute that CBD is safe and therapeutically effective.

    Further, the cannabis plant’s schedule I classification has long been inconsistent with the available evidence. Most recently, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a comprehensive report acknowledging that “conclusive or substantial evidence” exists for cannabis’ efficacy in patients suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. This finding is incompatible with the plant’s Schedule I status, which opines that it possess “no accepted medical use in the United States.” Twenty-nine states now permit physicians to authorize marijuana therapy to qualified patients.

    While simply rescheduling marijuana under federal law will not end federal prohibition, it will bring about some needed changes in law. At a minimum, it would bring an end to the federal government’s longstanding intellectual dishonesty that marijuana ‘lacks accepted medical use.’ It would also likely permit banks and other financial institutions to work with state-compliant marijuana-related businesses, and permit employers in the cannabis industry to take tax deductions similar to those enjoyed by other businesses. Rescheduling would also likely bring some level of relief to federal employees subject to random workplace drug testing for off-the-job cannabis consumption.

    For these reasons, we urge your support for HR 715 while also recognizing that ultimately cannabis must be removed from the Controlled Substances Act altogether. Passage of HR 715 is a first step in this process.

    Click here to email your Congressional Representative now.

    Iowa

    Legislation is pending, HF 199, to establish a statewide medical marijuana program.

    Under these proposals, qualified patients with intractable pain and other conditions would be able to obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities.

    A more narrow version of this program is proposed by separate legislation, HF 198.

    While the program proposed by the measures is a fairly narrow one, it is far superior to the state’s existing CBD-specific law, which only applies to patients with intractable epilepsy and fails to provide an in-state supply source for CBD-related medicine.

    IA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is making its way through the New Hampshire House, HB 656, to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adult use.

    Members of the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety heard testimony regarding the bill on Wednesday, February 2, at 2pm.

    Police in New Hampshire arrest some 2,900 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of New Hampshire adults, 62 percent of whom now endorse legalizing and regulating cannabis, according to a 2016 WMUR Granite State Poll.

    NH Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    Kansas

    Legislation is pending before lawmakers, The Kansas Safe Access Act, to establish regulations governing a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

    The measure would permit qualified patients to grow their own medical marijuana or to obtain it from a licensed dispensary, while also educating physicians who seek to recommend cannabis therapy.

    KS Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    South Dakota

    More than a dozen lawmakers are backing legislation, Senate Bill 129, to eradicate the state’s marijuana possession by ingestion law.

    Under the law, one can be charged with a felony drug offense if their past use of a marijuana shows up on a blood or urine test. In the case of cannabis, byproducts of THC may be detectable for several weeks after one has ceased using it.

    South Dakota is one of the only states that criminalizes the internal possession of marijuana or other controlled substances, and it is the only state that defines the activity as a felony offense.

    SD Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    Tennessee

    Legislation is pending in the House and Senate — SB 265 and HB 297 — to reduce penalties associated with the possession of one-eighth of marijuana (3.544 grams) to a fine-only offense.

    Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine. Passage of these pending measures would reduce the penalty to a $50 fine and no possibility of jail time.

    Simple marijuana possession would still remain classified as a misdemeanor.

    TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    Additionally, legislation is pending in the Tennessee House, HB 173, to nullify the enactment of citywide marijuana decriminalization ordinances and to prevent additional municipalities from enacting similar marijuana reform measures.

    The intent of the bill is to override the passage of recent citywide measures in Nashville and Memphis — both of which passed local ordinances last year making minor marijuana possession offenses a non-arrestable citation.

    By contrast, state law classifies marijuana possession as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a criminal record.

    TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    Vermont

    Legislation is pending in the House, H. 170, to eliminate civil and criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults.

    If passed, the measure would legalize the possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana, up to ten grams of hashish, and/or the cultivation of two marijuana plants in a private residence.

    The measure would also reduce existing penalties for those who possess greater quantities of cannabis.

    VT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    Wyoming

    Wyoming lawmakers are debating HJR 11, a joint resolution to legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

    This resolution legalizes and regulates the commercial cultivation and retail sale of marijuana to adults over the age of 21. Under this measure, adults would be able to legally possess up to three ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants in the privacy of their home.

    WY Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    Additionally, legislation, HB 197, to amend marijuana possession penalties has passed out of Committee and now faces action on the House floor.

    Passage of the measure would reduce existing marijuana possession penalties from up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine to no more than 20 days in jail and a $200 fine for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders would face stricter penalties under the proposal.

    Members of the House Judiciary Committee rejected a separate bill, HB 157, which NORML had endorsed that sought to decriminalize the possession of up to three ounces of marijuana.

    WY Resident? Click here to email your elected officials now.

    33 Responses to “Weekly Legislative Roundup, 2/3/2017”

    1. TheOracle says:

      The federal government can not force the states to enforce federal cannabis prohibition. YOU AIN’T THE BOSS OF ME! So many people want it legalized and are just not gonna fucking change it is unenforceable. President Trump, I want the federal government out of the business of enforcing cannabis prohibition. This is what I want you to do. Get the U.S. out of treaties in which we have agreed to enforce worldwide international prohibition. We ought not to be the world’s policeman for cannabis prohibition. At the same time, order Congress to get the federal government out of enforcing cannabis prohibition, and have it regulated like alcohol and tobacco, states deciding and not the federal government for them.

      The voices of all the people of the polls are screaming YOU AREN’T THE BOSS OF ME.

      • Jared says:

        You do realize that the federal government enforces their will on states by threatening to withhold federal money to states? So ya, they can without barely lifting a finger

        • TheOracle says:

          Yeah, I realize that. I live in a prohibitionist state, so ain’t shit gonna change.

        • TheOracle says:

          Like I said: YOU AIN’T THE BOSS OF ME!

        • TheOracle says:

          If the feds withhold federal funding, then the states will need the revenues from legal cannabis all the more to offset what they’re not getting from the feds. Stupid move on the feds’ part if they pull that shit. They’ll make some headlines, and create headaches galore. Weed is not going away if they do that; it’s just gonna get forced back underground, and the (Mexican) cartels will get fatter. Bad move on Trump the Chump’s part if he wants to see who has the biggest balls. Maybe he will do that, enrich the cartels, just so he has an excuse to establish U.S. military bases in Mexico. Chump move. Totally stupid. He’s too money-grubbing to pass up the profits, and prohibition is a totally lost cause, so if Chump wants to be a total loser then he can prolong the greatest failure of the war on drugs ever. I try not to confuse stupidity with Big Balls. Why prolong prohibition when it’s already a big loser?!

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ3tqIukBKg

    2. Julian says:

      Texas has a marijuana policy lobby day coming up on May 8th at the state capitol.

      Register here:
      https://www.texasmarijuanapolicy.org/lobby-day-event-february-8/

      Here are a list of bills:
      https://www.texasnorml.org/85r-leg-session/

      And here is NORML’s library of recent research on medical marijuana:

      http://norml.org/library/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana

      It is important to pick the references out of the Library that are peer-reviewed, longitudinal studies. Study and copy them so that you are armed with these links in your letters to your state and federal legislators.
      For example, clicking on the links from Mr. Armentano’s library for epilepsy is an “open label case series”

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27655472

      In medicine, a case report is a detailed report of the symptoms, signs, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of an individual patient. Case reports may contain a demographic profile of the patient, but usually describe an unusual or novel occurrence. Some case reports also contain a literature review of other reported cases.

      Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work. So what we are looking for in the study are the author(s).

      They will be listed under the title like this:

      “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Febrile Infection-Related Epilepsy Syndrome (FIRES) in the Acute and Chronic Phases.”
      Gofshteyn JS, Wilfong A, Devinsky O, Bluvstein J, Charuta J, Ciliberto MA, Laux L, Marsh ED.
      J Child Neurol. 2016 Sep 21. pii: 0883073816669450. [Epub ahead of print]
      PMID: 27655472

      We MUST cite our references when writing our legislators. This is how we free the weed for those in need.

    3. Anonymous says:

      Jeff Sessions must agree in writing to not interfere with states that allow marijuana and he must agree to repeal the controlled substance act of 1970.

    4. djalan111@gmail.com says:

      Jeff Sessions must agree in writing to not interfere with states that allow marijuana and he must agree to repeal the controlled substance act of 1970.

    5. Anonymous says:

      Looking up in RI and VT… That will make 10 recreational states. So sad about Arkansas,,

    6. Anonymous says:

      Assuming Trump/Sessions don’t take us back to 1984,, I can see a goal of Recreational in all Blue states within 5 years (maybe sooner) being attainable.

      • Evening Bud says:

        I occasionally try to clear my head of all things Trump now and then just to remember the great legalization victories we won this past election. It’s tough, with Trump causing disruption virtually every day that he’s been in office.

        So I happily remind myself that California is now in the legal column. The country’s single largest economy is in the legal column. I’ve been to Denver and have seen marijuana freedom up close; I can only image what San Francisco and LA will look like, and San Diego and San Jose.

        And of course with the legalization of the other states, Boston and Las Vegas will also become MJ havens. Can’t wait to visit any of those places once they get things going.

    7. MSimon says:

      HR 715 says a Schedule other than Schedule 1.

      Schedule 2 would not be much of an improvement.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Finally, something we agree on! I’ll take it.
        Deschedule not reschedule!

        While schedule II could reasonably be called nationwide legalization, paradoxically, it wouldn’t end marijuana prohibition.

        I say, if marijuana legalization doesn’t end marijuana prohibition, then we’re not there yet!

    8. Freedom&Liberty says:

      Thank you NORML!… continue to move forward…Lets end the poor representation and move forward with positive..common sense…and end the in your face assault.. to a truthful accepting approach…We must speak life…and help change the negative nancys that clam to be for and against marijuana. Simple common sense…We can approach our current President and his Admin…to make proper changes in law…that will benefit our nation all around. So Speak Life get onboard and lets build up our nation.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Wrong. Do not give Trump anything.
        Fight back! Resist. Never give in to white supremacist terrorism.

        • Busting The Conflaters says:

          Last I looked, there is no Million Man Klan march on the schedule. Combining overblown fears with MJ legalization does no favors for anyone.

          • Mark Mitcham says:

            The New Jim Crow
            From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
            The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
            Author Michelle Alexander
            Country United States
            Language English
            Subject Criminal justice, race discrimination, race relations
            Genre Non-fiction
            Publisher The New Press
            Publication date 2010

            The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a book by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights litigator and legal scholar. The book discusses race-related issues specific to African-American males and mass incarceration in the United States, but Alexander notes that the discrimination faced by African-American males is prevalent among other minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged populations. Alexander’s central premise, from which the book derives its title, is that “mass incarceration is, metaphorically, the New Jim Crow.”

            Overview
            Though the conventional point of view holds that discrimination has mostly ended with the civil rights movement reforms of the 1960s, Alexander posits that the U.S. criminal justice system uses the War on Drugs as a primary tool for enforcing traditional, as well as new, modes of discrimination and repression. These new modes of racism have led to not only the highest rate of incarceration in the world, but also an even greater imprisonment of African American men. Were present trends to continue, Alexander writes, the United States will imprison one-third of its African American population. When combined with the fact that whites are more likely to commit drug crimes than people of color, the issue becomes clear for Alexander: “The primary targets of [the penal system’s] control can be defined largely by race.

            • mexweed says:

              As @Julian’s been researching, one issue relevant to African-American males is that many of them vote Democrat, therefore prosecuting, locking up, Black-listing as “felon” kills a million potential Democrat votes, so that Republicans can proceed to “elect” any D. J. Crow casino clown commander-in-chief candidate.

          • Negative Nancy says:

            How very pathetic, that anyone would keep a schedule of Ku Klux Klan events. You are a case in point.

      • Negative Nancy says:

        The only thing more disgusting than Trump are the people that support him.

        • MSimon says:

          Well thanks. I guess I should stop writing anti-Prohibition for right wing sites then?

          https://spartareport.com/2016/10/heroin-making-war-abused-children/

          You don’t make a sale by starting your sales pitch with “you are an idiot and moral degenerate”. To win we are going to need to make at least some of “them” allies.

          Consider how you might attain that.

          • Negative Nancy says:

            If the shoe fits, wear it. I have no use for you at all.

          • Anonymous says:

            President Donald Trump said on Tuesday there was “no reason” to curb law enforcement agencies that seize cash, vehicles and other assets of people suspected of crimes, a practice that some lawmakers and activists have criticized for denying legal rights.

            The issue of civil asset forfeiture, created to disrupt the activities of organized crime groups, arose when sheriffs from around the United States told Trump at a White House meeting that they were under pressure to ease the practice.

            “I’d like to look into that,” Trump said. “There’s no reason for that.”

            In 2016, a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill, which did not become law, that would have required the government to do more to show that seized property was connected to a crime. Critics have said suspects have few avenues to challenge the seizures and that forfeiture laws were sometimes abused. Police in some cases seize property from people who are never charged or convicted.

            Trump, a Republican, asked acting U.S. Attorney General Dana Boente, who was at the gathering, whether executive orders or legislation were needed to support forfeiture. Boente said that was unnecessary but law enforcement agencies needed encouragement.

            Trump voiced disagreement with lawmakers who want to change asset forfeiture laws, and some of the sheriffs laughed when Trump suggested he might want to “destroy” the career of one Texas legislator.

            http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-police-idUSKBN15M2BU?il=0

            Let’s put this sad bizarre myth that the Republicans are on our side to bed already..

            • Anonymous says:

              IN THIER OWN WORDS

              Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) “If Alabamians can put man on the moon, we can build new prisons,” Bentley said during his State of the State address on Tuesday.

          • Mark Mitcham says:

            Personally, I like the idea of a People’s Party, advancing The People’s agenda on cannabis. The People’s Party would be comprised of libertarians, progressives, reformed Democrats, sane Republicans, and betrayed Trump supporters who are looking for new representation.

            This would be a voting block that could conceivably capture 70% of the vote (that’s speculation, of course) and would put both the Democrats and the Republicans on notice.

            The purpose and usefulness of third parties depends on the election. I voted for Nader, because at that time, Democrats and Republicans were Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Evidence? One word: Lieberman, as in Gore/Lieberman. And at that time, you couldn’t even get a Democrat to use the word “marijuana.” It was hard to tell the two parties apart, at least on marijuana policy.

            The Hillary/Trump election was different. Everyone who doesn’t want to die in a nuclear furnace should have voted for Hillary — never mind all the rest! But you didn’t. Thanks (not.)

            But you’re a Trump supporter, am I right? So you wouldn’t be interested. And likewise, we wouldn’t want you either, you would just sell us out.

      • Anonymous says:

        In your guts you know he’s nuts.
        He didn’t pick Jeff Sessions to make proper changes to the law..

        • Julian says:

          Off that note, I present to NORML my rhyming masterpiece:

          “nuts In his hair
          Drumph’s too sick to care”

          http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/trump-hair-drug-dangerous-side-effects

          A poem by Julian:
          (Ehemm)…
          “Nuts in his hair…
          Drumph’s too sick to care.
          Thats where
          The 25th amendment is there
          Too many sick people
          Need the weed to live fair
          While Drumph worships the steeple
          Of false hope and despair
          We split in pair
          workin on our state legi-slay-chair

          If smokin weed is NORML
          Then Take Action
          And get on with us
          Tell Drumph stop poppin pills
          And go to lil dicks anonymous

          It really doesnt matter
          if your Congressmans Republican
          Democrat, a dirty rat,
          Or lyin sack; Go visit’em

          No concession-Sessions
          May go after legal markets
          But the Feds have many lessons
          Over state criminal dockets

          They cant cage all our votes
          Up in 2018
          So its time to get together
          And free all the green

          See when we organize
          We realize where the divides come
          Dress my brother up to legalize
          Were gonna have fun
          State Rep, Eyes to eyes
          to our surprise
          He’s on the gun
          “Decriminalize”
          Were the cries
          Of his legislation
          (say whAT?)

          And after all the laughter
          Go join your NORML chapter
          “Hey bro, where is the capitol”
          Lets go, Already tapped’er
          And if we get too stoned
          I already google-mapped’er
          Like the raptor
          We are more than one
          Facing up the lies
          Right in their face
          Till Lobby Day is done

          Then roll you up a fatty
          Take a caddy
          To the Putt n Puff
          Celebrate till late
          Then go home
          I think Ive said enough…
          This crowd is rough…
          But the tough stay tough

          Citizen lobby
          Its more than a hobby

          • Evening Bud says:

            Get down, Julian!

          • Dan Rapper says:

            I’m in, Lemme in,
            got to say my thing
            now it’s My time to rhyme
            and add just one thing

            and that’s, We never bow.
            Never then, never now.
            Got a power in the tower:
            Muy loco chingou!
            Got a shiny white cop at the top
            who don’t stop
            and the redneck just
            don’t care nohow.

            Kowtow? No go!
            Marijuana? Gonna roll.
            Getting High? Lay low!
            SWAT teams? Hell no!

            Jeff Sessions GOT TO GO!

            I’m out

          • Evening Bud says:

            Julian, having watched a video about Drumpenfuhrer’s difficulty reading the written word, I’m positive that most of your rap would leave his plutocratic ass completely confused.

            I’ve always said: Republicans like their women barefoot and pregnant. And they like their presidents dumb as doorstops.

            • Julian says:

              Intelligent fools
              Follow predatory rules
              While kids become tools
              In Propaganda Schools

              See history is a weapon
              So we cant see what we step in
              The lies become a crutch
              To skip the research truth is preppin
              So obtuse
              No excuse
              We have a smart phone in our hand
              Only to watch refuse
              Let loose of truths to understand

              Denial is persuasion
              For us to search
              For truths equation
              Emoluments are tax evasion
              Just like a grape is a raisin

              I Inhale these facts
              In an alternate reality
              Came back to planet earth
              To plant the seed
              Of weed morality
              Its no formality
              To share the evidence
              This is our malady
              To hold account of Presidents

    9. Matt says:

      Arkansas and Tennessee STOP trying to stop the future you KNOW is coming.

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