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Weekly Legislative Roundup, 2/10/2017

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director February 10, 2017

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

    One thing is clear so far this year, elected officials see the writing on the wall when it comes to marijuana in America. This week, the number of bills filed throughout the country pertaining to various marijuana related policies broke 1,000.

    Most importantly, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

    With the recent confirmation of militant marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, passage of this Act is necessary to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference.

    In just the last day, we have had over 1,500 people email their Congressional Representative to support this crucial piece of legislation.

    Additionally, much to the dismay of marijuana advocates (and a number of our allies including the ACLU and NAACP), Jeff Sessions has been confirmed and sworn in as the nation’s Attorney General.

    What happens next in regards to marijuana policy is uncertain but for now, NORML and marijuana advocates from around the country will continue to pursue further progress, be it at the state or federal level.

    Below are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

    Don’t forget 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
    Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

    HR 975 states, ‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’

    Click here to email your Congressional Representative to urge them to support this crucial legislation.

    Connecticut
    Multiple pieces of legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate its commercial distribution is pending in both the state House and Senate.

    Reps. Melissa Ziobron (R), and Juan Candelaria (D) also have similar measures, HB 5314 and HB 5539. HB 5314 has been reserved for public hearings and HB 5539 is still being debated in committee.

    The House Speaker has previously acknowledged that he expects these bills to receive full hearings this session, so it is vital that your lawmakers hear consistent support for these measures from voters like you.

    CT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    New Hampshire
    Update: HB640 has passed the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on a vote of 14-2.

    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 to support this effort.

    New York
    Legislation has been filed for the 2017 legislative session to eliminate the ‘public view’ loophole exception in New York state’s marijuana law. Abuse of this provision has led to hundreds of thousands of needless marijuana arrests in recent years, primarily in New York City, despite the possession of the plant being decriminalized in the state since 1977.

    NY Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

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

    A majority of Rhode Island residents, about 60 percent, 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 to support this effort.

    Texas
    Legislation has been introduced for the 2017 legislative session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    House Bill 81, filed by Representative Joe Moody and cosponsored by Representative Jason Isaac, seeks to amend state law so that possessing up to one ounce of marijuana is a civil violation, punishable by a fine – no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record. Under current state law, first-time marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

    According to the ACLU, Texas arrests over 70,000 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses — the second highest total in the nation, at the cost of over 250 million dollars per year.

    TX Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Tennessee
    Several pieces of legislation are pending to amend marijuana possession penalties.

    HB 831 and SB 1116 seek to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

    Separate 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 $50 fine-only offense. However, under these bills, simple possession would still remain classified as a misdemeanor.

    TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    OTHER ACTIONS TO TAKE

    Florida
    HB 237 seeks to prohibit individuals from operating a motor vehicle if they have 5 or more nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood.

    NORML opposes this proposal.

    The presence of low levels of THC in blood is an inappropriate and inconsistent indicator of psychomotor impairment. No less than the United States Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) agrees, stating, “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”

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

    FL Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Georgia
    Legislation is pending in the Senate, SB 105, to reduce felony marijuana possession offenses to a fine-only misdemeanor.

    Under state law, the possession of over one ounce of marijuana is classified as a felony offense — punishable by a minimum of one year in jail and up to ten years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Senate Bill 105 would reduce this penalty to a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $300.

    GA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Iowa
    Legislation is pending in the House, HF 199, to establish a statewide medical marijuana program. Under HF 199, qualified patients with intractable pain and other conditions would be able to obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities. Similar legislation is also pending in the Senate, SF 205.

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

    IA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Kansas
    Legislation is pending before lawmakers, SB 155, to establish regulations governing a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

    SB 155 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.

    Kansas is one of fewer than a dozen US states that has taken no action to reform its medical marijuana laws. Please urge your House and Senate lawmakers to support these comprehensive legislation.

    KS Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Minnesota
    Legislation to permit the adult use, cultivation, production, and retail sale of marijuana is forthcoming in the Minnesota legislature.

    Deputy Minority Leader, State Rep. Jon Applebaum has announced his intent to sponsor the measure in a press release. The bill would allow those age 21 or older to legally possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use and establish regulations governing its commercial production and retail sale.

    MN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    New Mexico
    Update: HB 89 has cleared the first committee as it makes it’s way to the floor of the House.

    State Representatives Bill McCamley and Javier Martinez introduced HB 89 to regulate the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana in the state.

    ”It is either going to happen sooner or it is going to happen later and if it happens sooner we can realize the economic benefits now.” McCamley said.

    NM Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Oklahoma
    Legislation is pending in the House, HB 1877, The Medical Marijuana Act of 2017.

    Passage of the Act would regulate state-licensed dispensaries to provide up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana to qualifying patients.

    Separate provisions protect the rights of patients from civil sanctions, stating: “An employer shall not discriminate against an individual in hiring, termination or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize an individual, based upon the past or present status of the individual as a qualifying patient or designated caregiver; A person otherwise entitled to custody of, or visitation or parenting time with, a minor shall not be denied custody, visitation or parenting time solely for conduct allowed under this act.”

    OK Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Vermont
    UPDATE: H. 170 was first heard on Thursday, Feb. 9th

    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.

    VT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Wisconsin
    Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) introduced a pair of bills seeking to provide qualified patients with legal access to medical cannabis. The first bill establishes a statewide medical marijuana program, while the second bill would poll voters’ attitudes on the issue in the form of a nonbinding statewide referendum.

    Speaking at a news conference, Sen. Erpenbach said that the passage of his legislation will put patients “in a situation where they don’t have to break the law anymore.”
    WI Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    15 Responses to “Weekly Legislative Roundup, 2/10/2017”

    1. Trojan72 says:

      Deschedule marijuana from controlled substances list. Marijuana should be legalized nationwide. The corrupt government is the real problem.

    2. saferinneworleans says:

      We are still getting the good in Louisiana. Thank you Texas!

      Tennessee police are setting up a straw man – opioid deaths – in opposition to medical marijuana. They’re really protecting their pocketbooks.

      The Tulsa World asked readers to recommend a new law. Medical marijuana is winning the poll, overwhelmingly. http://www.tulsaworld.com/homepagelatest/what-laws-do-tulsa-world-readers-want-to-see-passed/article_5ffee986-26f6-5830-944d-4cdc724c1014.html

    3. MSimon says:

      Sessions is a law an order guy. Take away the law….

      Good to see a Republican leading the way on changing the law.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Republicans taking the lead on legalization?

        Stop. Don’t say that while I’m having supper, you made milk come out my nose!

        I assume you are referring to Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA); I think it’s safe to say we’re all glad to have his support. But taking the lead? He may be taking the lead among other Republicans, maybe that’s what you meant. But then again, that’s not too hard, is it?

        Nice try.

        • MSimon says:

          Sessions is a problem because Obama didn’t do the right thing. He double crossed us. That is why a lot of anti-Prohibitionists voted for Trump.

          And yes. Republicans will be taking the lead on this issue. When they support an issue it will be honest support. Not like the support we got from Obama.

          Anyone got any ideas on how to get more Republican support? Maybe calling them a bunch of sub human racists and women haters will win them over.

          The City vs Country divide has been a feature of human politics for 5,000 years or more. Too bad we haven’t figured it out yet. And this is despite the fact that voting patterns in the last election make this obvious.

          Two Ecologies

          A Thermodynamic Explanation Of Politics

          We are in the current situation because the anti-Prohibition forces made their cause a one Party issue. It is time to change that.

          • Evening Bud says:

            MSimon,

            Ah, a member of the “Party of Personal Responsibility” speaks up–and promptly passes the buck!

            There’s a reason that most of the states that have legalized both Rec and MMJ are blue states. Instead of bemoaning the fact that some here (rightfully) point out the Neanderthal attitudes of the Right when it comes to legalization, you should “talk to your people,” lol, and convince them to support legalization.

          • Julian says:

            MSimon,
            Its not too late to stop the bull$#!+ and find a cure for your political dysentery.
            Take a deep toke on some Trainwreck and repeat after me:
            “I’m good enough and smart enough to read the facts on this webpage.”
            “President Obama allowed the Cole memos to the DOJ.”
            (Take another long toke, puff, and…)
            “If it were not for President Obama allowing voter initiated state legalization of marijuana to grow withOUT filing an injunction, (or putting Jeff Sessions in charge of the USAG) or provoking a prohibitionist Republican Congress with an executive order we would not have any examples of state legalization today.”
            (One more puff)…
            “Donald Trump campaigned on the same old racist propaganda from Harry Anslinger blaming Mexicans to confuse weak-spirited Americans into a fabricated drug war by further falsely blaming our socioeconomic inequality on drugs all races in America consume. But on a scale of nationality none consume anything so much as Americans”

            Finally, repeat and practice the next sentence morning, noon and night for the rest of your life;

            “I will research the truth, even if I don’t like the answers.”

    4. Oklahoma is changing possession from a felony to a misdemeanor.

    5. Anonymous says:

      Blue States going Recreational, Swing states going Medical, Even some Decrim in Red States, Then it all goes up in Smoke,, Thanks Trump Voters.

    6. Julian says:

      Texas:
      Senate bill 269 has reached the Senate Health Committee. Contact Senate Health Committee Chairman Sen. Shwertner here:

      http://action.mpp.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=20841

      Personalize your letter if you are a veteran who knows marijuana consumption can turn PTS into PTSGrowth!
      Remember the Compassionate Use Program was passed to help severely epileptic children with access to whole plant cannabis. If Sherriff’s Associations and DPS want to jack up the cost of this medicine with outrageous dispensary appication fees (we got it down to half a million from 1.2m but really?) …or if they want to use our tax dollars and asset forfeitures without due process to lobby our State legislature to keep life saving cannabis from sick children then its time to cut out the middle man in this doctor-patient relationship and pass SB269.

      Senate Bill 170 to decriminalize marijuana in the State of Texas has also reached committee:

      http://action.mpp.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=20838

      Key points for Crminal Justice Committee Chairman Whitmire:
      1). This will create jobs by keeping productive nonviolent Texans in the workforce.
      2). Allow law enforcement to focus on real crimes like rape and murder
      3). Dont forget to mention SB 380 to eliminate asset forfeitures without due process:

      http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/html/SB00380I.htm

    7. Julian says:

      Pushing SB170 is critical in the Texas state Senate.
      The House version HB81 has a great chance of passing. The author, Representative Joe Moody, D-El Paso has just been named Chair of the House Jurisprudence Committee. Moody has shown brave leadership on marijuana reform for Texas.
      And I cant give enough praise to my district Representative Jason Isaac- R, Dripping Springs. Ill never forget lobbying his office to expand the Compassionate Use Act when his staff came out that he supported decriminalization. Next thing I know he’s cosponsoring HB81. To all of you that are rightfully frustrated with Republicans, remember were not going to agree on every issue; my state Senator just might support SB170 but the day I lobbied she went to vote on SB4; so great, were getting marijuana consumers out of jail but the prison lobby wants to replace us with immigrant families. Its disgusting; but we have to make progress where we can and continue to voice our concerns. That means go to NORML training seminars and citizen lobby. It works!

    8. ..... says:

      I personally like my second amendment rights, therefor will lean republican even if I don’t like them on alot of social issues, nearly every person of my generation that votes Republican feels this way. The problem is the left has to appeal to the far left commies, and the right has to appeal to the “christian” vote. Everyone else picks sides based on a single issue. It’s easier to buy illegal marijuana than it is to lose my right to bear arms. But in an ideal world I would have both. It’s only a matter of time till the Republicans realize they cant win and be anti marijuana, but the democrats will never realize they should back off and don’t tread on me.

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