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Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/25/17

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director March 25, 2017

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

    As we prepare to for April and marijuana related attention that comes with 4/20, NORML has put up an action alert on the appointment process for new US Attorneys (If you didn’t know, Attorney Jeff Sessions fired the holdovers from Obama Administration). With so many issues swirling around in the political lexicon, it’s important that we not see a wave of Sessions-style prohibitions be installed throughout the country, so please email your Senators now and tell them to demand the the new US Attorney’s respect state marijuana laws.

    Additionally, Representative Tulsi Gabbord went to the floor of the House of Representatives and spoke on behalf of her legislation entitled “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 – HR 1227. You can watch the video by clicking here.

    A very special shout-out for me to make is the success of having Virginia Governor McAuliffe signed into law SB 1027, to regulate the instate production of cannabis oil. Congrats Virginia NORML and your whole team!

    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

    US Attorneys: Members of the Senate will now be asked to consider new appointments. Please contact your Senator and urge him/her to consider those US Attorneys who will respect statewide marijuana laws.

    With 29 states having established medical marijuana programs and eight states having enacted adult-use regulatory laws, it is vital that those appointed to this prestigious position respect the will of the electorate.

    US Attorneys possess broad authority when both interpreting the laws and prioritizing their enforcement. Under the past administration, US Attorneys largely took a ‘hands off’ approach in jurisdictions that had legalized the use of marijuana, as directed by the 2013 “Cole Memo.” Incoming US Attorneys ought to take a similar approach.

    Click here to email your Senators to defend the majority of voters who reside in legal cannabis states and to reject those nominees who will not support state marijuana laws.

    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.

    According to a March 2015 Quinnipiac University poll of Connecticut voters, 63 percent favor permitting adults to legally possess personal use quantities of cannabis.

    Update: SB 11 had a hearing on March 22.

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

    Illinois
    Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate the commercial cannabis market.

    The measures permits adults to legally possess personal or grow use quantities of marijuana in private.  Additional provisions establish a regulated market for the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to adults.

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

    Massachusetts
    On Election Day, 54 percent of voters decided in favor of Question 4: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act – permitting adults to legally grow and to possess marijuana for personal use, while also establishing regulations governing commercial cannabis cultivation and capping taxes on retail sales.

    But it has become apparent that some powerful politicians and bureaucrats wish to ignore voters’ will and rewrite history.

    Update: Hearings on implementation will be:
    March 27th at 4 pm at the West Springfield High School auditorium,
    April 3rd at 11 am at the Statehouse,
    April 10th at 4 pm at the Shrewsbury High School.

    MA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to implement Question 4 in a timely manner as passed.

    New York
    Legislation (A. 2142 and S. 3809) is before the Assembly and Senate to seal the records of those who have previously been convicted of the possession of marijuana in public view.

    New York has historically had the highest marijuana-related arrest rate in the nation largely because of questionable arrests made under the ‘public view’ exception.

    Passage of A. 2142 and S. 3809 will make it so these hundreds of thousands of minor offenders are no longer stigmatized by their arrest record.

    Update: NORML is joining multiple organizations, including Empire State NORML and the Drug Policy Alliance in calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to include the language from A. 2142 and S. 3809 in his budget.

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

    Tennessee
    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.

    Update: Members of the House have passed HB 173 by a vote of 65 to 28 March 23. The measure now awaits action from the Senate.

    TN Resident? Click here and email your Senators to oppose this effort.

    Additional Actions To Take

    Nebraska
    LB622 will allow patients with conditions such as Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, opioid addictions and some types of cancer to obtain marijuana. Qualified patients would not be permitted to grow cannabis and would have to obtain non-smoked, cannabis-infused formulations from state-licensed providers. A version of this legislation debated last year was narrowly defeated by lawmakers.

    Update: LB 622 has advanced out of committee by a vote of 6 – 1.

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

    New Mexico
    An amended version of House Bill 527 amends state law so that qualified patients may not be denied organ transplants. It also expands the pool of qualifying conditions for which a physician may legally recommend cannabis therapy, to include indications such as Crohn’s disease, chronic pain, hepatitis C, neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, and post-traumatic stress, among other conditions. It also establishes reciprocity for non-residents.

    Update: SB 177 was tabled in lieu of HB 527. An amended version of HB 527 is now before the Governor, having passed the House by a vote of 45 to 16 and the Senate by a vote of 28 to 9.

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

    Nevada
    Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 259, to vacate certain marijuana possession convictions that occurred prior to the plant’s legalization.

    The measure would permit those with criminal convictions for offenses involving the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana prior to January 1, 2017 to have their convictions vacated.

    NV 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.

    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 email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Vermont
    Legislation is pending, 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.

    Update: Members of the House Judiciary Committee advanced H. 170 on March 22 in an 8 to 3 vote. It now awaits action on the House floor. A new statewide Public Policy poll finds that Vermont residents favor this legislation by a margin of 57 percent to 39 percent.

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

    28 Responses to “Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/25/17”

    1. NICOLAUS YANNOTTI says:

      I can not wait to see texas or actually the Federal Government and Norml just winning the fight!

    2. John Thomas says:

      I finally figured out who retrograde Jeff Sessions sounds like: Huckleberry Hound!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLs1v92TsJ-l_vgSEqDzpk3Zzd_kQ3DVym&v=YIP8Kd2N5Jw

    3. Julian says:

      Texas:

      SB 170 to decriminalize marijuana in the state of Texas needs your help to get into committee!

      https://ssl.capwiz.com/aclu/tx/issues/alert/?alertid=76324646&type=ML

      The ACLU of Texas has a link to your state Senator and Lt Gov. Dan Patrick, who is poised to hold this up if we dont take action. Write and call!

      HB 81 to decriminalize marijuana is pending in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. Vice Chair Todd Hunter is also the Chair of the Calendar Committee which decides if bills get a floor vote in Texas. Hunter held up a decrim bill in 2015 by failing to put the vote on the Calendar. 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

    4. Matt says:

      WAKE UP TENNESSEE! Keep the city decrim. in place you fools, it is going to be legal in your state anyway soon enough, matter of time! Vote NOT on the nullification! Just delaying the inevitable! Vote the sponsors of the nullification out, and protest them!

    5. What Me Worry? says:

      Since Demos have been complete obstructionists, raised so many red herrings, done bupkis regarding Obamacare and been in general a bunch of snowflakes, why should the GOP want to work with that party? A very few will but most won’t. Might as well bark at the moon these days.

      If you want something from the other side you have to give up something. Bipartisan dealmaking used to be done on a regular basis in DC. Not so much these days!

      But hey, if you want to hate The Donald and an honest man like Sessions, go ahead and see how far you get with legalization. Cut off your nose to spite your face, yeah, that’s the ticket to get policy in your favor.

      • Julian says:

        Ok NORML, that’s it; this was the post that made me say it officially;

        We need re-Captcha for this website.

        And the words have to be complex enough to not only eliminate bots but include educational phrases like “Sessions has opiate confessions” y’know, so people (or Russian bots) like “WhoMe” over here can at least learn something before they regurgitate feeble-minded propaganda all over this blog. SOMEbody has to pull the bad weeds out of our good little weed garden.

        • LOL! You find the tech that works to do that and I’ll load it up.

        • What Me Worry? says:

          I love the sound of screeching snowflakes on a blog….LOL! Did you think you libs have a monopoly on personal freedom issues? Of course all you can do is insult and then a NORML official comes along to give you some safe space comfort, which does even more to discredit your side. Keep it up and pretty soon we’ll be back to life sentences for pot.

          MAGA!

          P.S. I guess smoking too much made you forget there is a libertarian wing out there which has little use for the libs of today.

          • Mark Mitcham says:

            Then why are you here? Are you trying to be the creep at the party?

            • What Me Worry? says:

              The creep I see is you. But hey, if you are up for legal MJ and I most certainly am, I’ll overlook the ugly parts inside you. Deal?

              THE CURE OF PROHIBITION IS WORSE THAN THE DISEASE.

            • Mark Mitcham says:

              @hatmeworry,
              No deal. Can’t think of anything you have that I need.

            • Dain Bramage says:

              @ What me worry,
              The question is, did you click on the green “act” tab? This is what we have provided you: a chance to participate. If you did, you’re in! Otherwise, what are you waiting for?

          • Craig says:

            @whatmeworry,
            Bye, Felicia!

          • mexweed says:

            “Libs of today” contrasted with “libertarian”?
            1. There’s a “tory” lurking inside that “tarian”.
            2. “Liberal”? Every word ending with a “-ool” sound is bad luck.
            3. Try LIBERATIVE. We’re talking about an herb which, raised to vaporizing temperatures, has powers to LIBERATE. What it Liberates might be LEAP i.e Longterm Episodic Associative Performance memories which Uprush out of the deepvault of the psyche, forming unprecedented combinations, inventions, innovations and intonations.
            .
            Any true CONSERVATIVE will want to Liberate cannabis users, not only medicool, recreationool, butg also inspirationool, educationool, occupationool. “Hemp For Bigtree” Rieferforestation programs worldwide, consisting of hemp plantations which preceed tree plantings, will result in a needed massive increase in CO2-eating vegetation thus conserving out livable climate.
            .
            “Whosoever postureth before you as a Conservative, ASK FIRST what they propose to Conserve.”

      • Craig says:

        Bye, Felicia.

      • TheOracle says:

        I would hardly characterize folks in the cannabis community as snowflakes. That is just so bandwagon. So is insinuating that we’re a bunch of haters.

        Well newcomer, some of us are like the frozen tundra like, you know, in Siberia or Alaska, Canada. I’ve been hated and hunted by all the prohibitionist presidents going back to Nixon, and I haven’t melted yet.

        We have been here for a long time, like the poor you will always have with you. People in the cannabis community come from different political parties as is in this article about a poll from 2016 that shows that Republicans want cannabis legalized, too.
        http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/12/support-for-marijuana-legalization-continues-to-rise/

        There is no give and take on legalization. It’s long overdue. To think that two men, the Donald and Sessions, could control what millions of people do would require constant and ceaseless monitoring of everyone. Donald and Jeff can’t be physically in the same room with us or in a room with enough cameras for the two of them to break everyone’s privacy to try to enforce their way out of legalizing.

        Cannabis is NEVER going away. Just legalize it!

      • Evening Bud says:

        ” . . . an honest man like Sessions . . . ”

        LOL, yeah, he’s so honest, he only lied about his meetings with the Russians. Sessions obviously is a grad student from the Donald Trump University of Lying Liars.

    6. Chad says:

      Look at this fake troll ripping on dems for obstruction..get real dude..what President was the most obstructed in history? Forget about Obama already..trolling hick.

    7. TheOracle says:

      Pennsylvania ought to follow Illinois’s lead to solve its budget woes. It’s the steady revenue source the Republican majority legislature needs but won’t admit to.

      http://hightimes.com/news/illinois-considers-legalizing-marijuana-for-a-fiscal-boost/

    8. Ronda says:

      I was just wondering if anyone out there could help me help my brother get out of serving a 6year prison sentence for growing a couple personal pot plants. He has already served 2 months in county and one in federal prison. He uses it to help with anxiety and depression but not legal in our state but still a 6 year sentence.the cops.were doing an knock and talk he wasn’t home so they proceeded to walk around the property till they found the plant. Please someone out there help me help my brother and get him home this is the first time he has been in trouble never has had a drug charge before he is a 46 year old hard working son father grandpa brother PLEASE PLEASE someone help

      • Julian says:

        Ronda,
        Sorry to hear about your brother. If you click on the green tab that says “lawyers” under the “Act” tab you can find a link to legal AID, and at least contact your local NORML chapter for legal advice. Click on the Act tab to pass legislation to reform marijuana in your state because as more people with marijuana possessions are placed on parole, the quicker that your brother will get out.
        It sounds like your brother was charged both locally and federally. Since it has been more than a year, and I don’t know whether your brother has a pending trial, you need to find out what the statute of limitations is for you to file what’s called a Motion to Suppress Evidence.
        Tell your brother to stay strong and DON’T SIGN ANYTHING without a good lawyer. Law enforcement tends to intimidate people in prison while they wait on a trial into signing their rights away. Remember, if the police had no warrant signed by a Judge to enter the property than the case is simply about suppressing the evidence. Good luck.

        • Evening Bud says:

          Julian, very good advice, words we should all heed.

          Ronda, my best wishes for your brother; another victim of this tragic “war on drugs.”

    9. Byron says:

      What I would like to know is, how can we get the classification of marijuana overturned so that it, like alcohol, can be described as an intoxicant? I make it a point to contact my representative every time some legislation occurs, and in each appeal for favorable results, that reclassification would void all this nonsense about ganja being as evil as opiates. I for one suffer here in Indiana because I have no access to a plant that would replace five of the man made concoctions that make me worry about failing organs. Representative Young is for legal “weed” but he is only one against the many here, as former governor Pence said, “that will never happen.” That comment alone sums up the mentality of ignorance which exists here in the Mensa state.

    10. Nancy Lee Garrett says:

      The government warns us how harmful alcohol is to our bodies. 88,000 people in the US die from alcohol annually. But it is legal.
      The government made it a law that all products containing tobacco have a label on the packaging warning us of the dangers of using these tobacco products. 480,000 people in the US die from tobacco annually . But it is legal.
      Marijuana never killed anyone, and in fact has been proven to cure a lot of diseases. But it is illegal.
      If it doesn’t make sense it is Wrong!

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