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Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/17/2017

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director March 17, 2017

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

    First and foremost, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Fun fact, marijuana is still safer than alcohol. You can read more about it in Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? co-authored by NORML’s own Paul Armentano.

    This week we saw “legislative crossover” days dash the hopes of advancement in both Kentucky and Iowa. Additionally, the New Hampshire Senate defeated a legalization effort there, yet we are confident that this is the year when the Granite State finally decriminalizes marijuana.

    If you missed it, our monthly national chapter call had updates from Colorado, Delaware, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Washington state on their recent lobbying efforts. You can read more in calls report by clicking here.

    The Washington City Paper published a great piece entitled Pot: A Political History which does a wonderful job of giving context to the struggles that we face today after 80 years of marijuana prohibition.

    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
    End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

    The “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

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

    Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

    Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the newly formed Cannabis Caucus

    Colorado
    Colorado State Senator Bob Gardner and Representative Dan Pabon have introduced legislation, SB 184, The Marijuana Membership Clubs and Public Use Bill, will provide Colorado municipalities with the regulatory framework needed to allow responsible adults the option to socially consume marijuana in a membership club away from the general public.

    Update: SB 184 passed the full Senate on Thursday, March 9, by a vote of 25-10 and will now be sent to the House. Gov. Hickenlooper has threatened a veto, saying he opposes any expansion of indoor smoking.

    CO Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    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.

    Update: Lawmakers have scheduled a pair of hearings in March to debate these various legalization proposals. Members of the Public Health Committee heard testimony on Tuesday, March 7. Members of the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on Wednesday, March 22.

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

    New Mexico
    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 258, to reduce penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses.

    The measure eliminates criminal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one-half of one ounce of cannabis, reducing the offense to a $50 fine. Under present law, this offense is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 15 days in jail and criminal record.

    Update: Members of the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee passed SB 258 on March 14. It must still pass through one additional committee prior to receiving a House floor vote.

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

    Tennessee
    Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, are sponsoring the legislature’s most concerted effort to legalize medical use of marijuana.

    Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine.

    Update: SB 860 was placed on the calendar of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee for March 14 and HB 673 was deferred in Senate Judiciary Committee to March 28.

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

    Additional Actions To Take

    Kansas
    Legislation is pending, House Bill 2152, to permit qualified patients access to marijuana or extracts containing CBD and low levels of THC.

    The measure would permit patients with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder or a condition causing seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, to possess marijuana or extracts containing no more than three percent THC. The measure also seeks to establish rules governing the state-licensed cultivation of low-THC marijuana strains and the preparation of products derived from such strains.

    Update: Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee heard the bill on Wednesday, Match 15 at 1:30pm, Room 546-S.

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

    Maine
    Legislation is pending, LD 1064, to require health insurance policies to cover expenses related to the physician authorized use of medical cannabis.

    The measure states, “A carrier offering a health plan in this State shall provide coverage for marijuana for  medical use for an enrollee who has received certification for the medical use of marijuana from a medical provider.”

    ME Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Maryland
    House and Senate legislation is pending to allow those with past criminal marijuana convictions to have those records expunged.

    House Bill 379 / Senate Bill 949 permit those who received a criminal marijuana possession conviction prior to October 1, 2014, to seek expungement of their records.

    Update: Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee passed SB 949 on March 9.

    MD Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Massachusetts
    Legislation is pending before the House, H 113, to prohibit employers from discriminating against patients who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours. Additional legislation, H 2385, would expand protections for medical marijuana patients so that they may not be discriminated against with regard to housing, higher education, and child custody issues.  

    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.

    It is time to end this discriminatory policy.

    MA Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Montana
    House Bill 529 imposes a special six percent statewide tax upon medical marijuana sales. This tax would be in addition to the imposition of existing state and local taxes.

    While NORML generally does not oppose the imposition of fair and reasonable sales taxes on the commercial sales of cannabis for recreational purposes, we do not support such excessive taxation on medical sales. Most other states that regulate medical cannabis sales do not impose such taxes and Montana patients should not be forced to pay these excessive costs.

    Update: Members of the House Taxation Committee heard testimony on the bill on March 15. Most witnesses testified against the bill.

    MT Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to oppose this effort.

    New Mexico
    Governor Susana Martinez has vetoed House Bill 144, which sought to establish a hemp research program in compliance with provisions in the federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to engage in licensed activity involving hemp absent federal reclassification of the plant. The Governor provided no public explanation for the veto.

    The bill has previously passed the House and Senate by votes of 42 to 26 and 30 to 12 respectively.

    Update: Lawmakers have introduced a third hemp research bill, House Bill 530. This bill was passed by the House on March 14 by a vote of 65 to 1, and now awaits senate action.

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

    Oklahoma
    Legislation has been introduced, Senate Bill 704, to provide for hemp cultivation and manufacturing.

    The measure excludes industrial hemp from the state’s definition of marijuana and provides for its commercial cultivation and export.

    The measure also expands the list of qualifying conditions eligible for CBD treatment under state law. Under this change, patients with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety would be eligible for medicinal cannabis products as long as those formulations are in liquid form and do not exceed 12 percent THC.

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

    Tennessee
    SB 1116 seeks to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

    Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine.

    Update: SB 1116 has a hearing scheduled for March 28.

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

    West Virginia
    Legislation by Delegate Hornbuckle of Cabell, House Bill 3035, to legalize and regulate the adult use, production, and sale of marijuana is before members of the House Health and human Resources Committee.

    House Bill 3035, allows adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and to cultivate up to six cannabis plants for their own personal use. It also regulates the commercial marijuana market and allows for the production of industrial hemp.

    WV Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    10 Responses to “Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/17/2017”

    1. Charles Kennedy says:

      Why no details on what happened to “dash hope” in Kentucky?

    2. Anonymous says:

      NO public explanation, New Mexico. That governor is law enforcement central.

    3. Julian says:

      Texas:

      Chairman Moody D-El Paso of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee dropped the gavel and closed testimony on HB81 to decriminalize marijuana in the state of Texas. Their decision is pending. Because Moody cosponsored the bill with my Representative Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, Moody had to recuse his vote.
      But even prohibitionist Vice Chair Todd Hunter-R couldnt believe not a single Sherriff’s Association testified against HB81.. just a lone prosecutor from Odessa. Amazing. Hunter is also the Chair of the Calendar Committee which decides if bills get a floor vote in Texas. If you live in Chorpus Christi, give Todd Hunter a call and tell him to give HB81 a floor vote!

      http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=32

      Also in Texas do not forget to mention SB380 to abolish civil asset forfeiture in the state of Texas.
      http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/pdf/SB00380I.pdf
      This is a powerful poison root of prohibition and we need to let our Reps and Senators know that taking people’s money and property to court without due process is unconstitutional and were not putting up with it.

    4. Julian says:

      Chase that evil governor of New Mexico out of office.

    5. TheOracle says:

      Folks are toning things down or canceling cannabis/420 celebrations in some places. We’re going by AG Sessions’s smoke signals and dog whistles. It’s like he pulled up some old drug warrior document on his computer, and he’s talking the same old shit.

      Someone needs to send him his new talking points, and the new talking points are if not outright pro-legalization then at the very least indicate that the feds will stay out of the way of legalization.

      We’re way past the lead and follow part and are on Get Out of the Way! Lead, follow or get out of the way, you know, the first two are out, and the country is in a get out of the way path.

      Grumpy Trumpies at the top of the hierarchy of their administration love money without regard for how it negatively affects others. When they shift money from knocking people off health care to tax cuts for folks who are already well off, that’s a transfer of wealth from poor folks to rich folks. They should have no problem then with legalizing something that is a safer choice than alcohol.

      The last thing any thinking person is going to believe is if they get all holier than thou and focus on the negatives of the after legalization reality. They don’t even wink an eye at gambling, alcohol, and the negative consequences of paying attention to the environment, energy, health care, burning bridges, blah, blah, blah.

      Why don’t you prohibitionists just figure out how much of pot of money you want and then give some signals for legalization to go forward at all levels, no meddling, green light the federal legislation?!

    6. Denny Strausser Jr says:

      Meanwhile here in PA.
      They will be a rally on 4/19
      Please if you are from PA, try to get to the capital in Harrisburg and join the rally.
      I am trying to get a ride for that day, as I really want to see more reform here in Pennsylvania. Show Tom Wolf that there’s plenty of support for this. Together, maybe we can get PA listed on here as one of the next States to at least decriminalize marijuana.

      I wish they would consider legalization further, but I will settle for decriminalization for now.

      Thanks For Reading.

      • Denny Strausser Jr says:

        Here’s more details.

        EVENT: Rally for Marijuana Law Reform
        LOCATION: Main Rotunda, PA Capitol Building, N 3rd St & State St, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120
        DATE: April 19, 2017
        TIME: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

        It is encouraged to show up a little early.
        Even as early as 9. But it begins at 11:30.
        Hope I can make it, and hope to see you all there.

        • Mark Mitcham says:

          What the hell? Why 4/19? That doesn’t make sense — I don’t get it. Well, regardless, I wouldn’t bet against a spontaneous 420 celebration as well on Thursday. The 420 protest is on 4/20. Then, at 4:20PM on 4/20, everyone lights up!! That’s how it works.

          419? WTF? Have one on 419 if you want, but the real one is 420!!!

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