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Weekly Legislative Update 4/22/17

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director April 22, 2017

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

    What a week it has been! With our 4/20 Online Day of Action, we have blown past the goals we had set and have now driven over 35,000 messages to Congress on HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017. If you have not yet, do so RIGHT NOW by clicking here. 

    This last week, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (D) signed into law the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act — a state-sponsored program that will permit qualified patients to obtain medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries. With the addition of WV, the United States will soon have 30 medical marijuana programs throughout the country.

    With the current Federal budget set to expire at the end of next week, it is imperative that Congress reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which protects those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. Send a message to your members of Congress now to protect patients.

    Following 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
    Protect Patients: Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, maintains that federal funds can not be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

    In December, Congress re-authorized the amendment as part of a short term spending package, House Resolution 2028. This bill extends federal funding through April 28, 2017, at which time the measure — and the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment — will expire.

    Click here to message your members of Congress to protect state medical marijuana and their patients. 

    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) earlier this year formed the 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 created Congressional Cannabis Caucus

    Florida
    On November 8th, more than 71 percent of Florida voters decided in favor of the constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, to allow for the licensed production, use, and dispensing of medical cannabis to patients with a doctor’s recommendation. However, state politicians are contemplating legislative efforts to amend the law in a manner that violates both its spirit and intent.

    FL resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials and demand that they support medical marijuana in Florida

    Iowa (at Governor)
    In a last minute deal by Iowa state lawmakers, both chambers passed HF 524, which would expand the narrow access of CBD with up to 3% THC to patients who have been diagnosed by an Iowa-licensed physician with Parkinson’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, AIDS and HIV, Crohn’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, as well as most terminal illnesses that have a life expectancy of less than one year and untreatable pain. The bill also sets up a framework for in-state production of the medicine. The bill now goes to Governor Terry Branstad (R) for his signature or veto.

    IA resident? Click here to send a message to Gov. Branstad and urge him to sign HF 524

    Texas
    HB 2200, will provide an affirmative defense regarding medical cannabis that would protect patients, caregivers, and doctors, will be heard on April 24.

    Affirmative defense establishes a basic set of facts surrounding marijuana 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.

    TX resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials to support this common sense reform.

    Vermont
    Members of the Senate voted 21 to 9 on April 21 in favor of an unrelated House bill, H. 167, which Senators had amended to include language to legalize the recreational marijuana market. Other Senate amendments in the bill mimic language in H. 170, which eliminates criminal and civil penalties specific to the possession or cultivation of personal use quantities of cannabis. The amended version of H. 167 now returns to the House for further action.

    VT resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and support legalizing marijuana in Vermont.

    Other Actions to Take

    Arizona
    Legislation is pending, SB 1337, to permit for the licensed production of industrial hemp.

    Update: Members of the House Standing Committee and the House Appropriations Committee both passed SB 1337 by votes of 7 to 1 and 12 to 1 respectively.

    AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support hemp in Arizona.

    California
    Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws.

    The bill states, “This bill would prohibit a state or local agency, as defined, from taking certain actions without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”

    Update: AB 1578 was passed by members of the Public Safety Committee on April 18 by a vote of 5-2.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort. 

    Louisiana
    SB 35, introduced by Sen. Yvonne Colomb, provides explicit exemptions from arrest and prosecution for persons lawfully in possession of medical marijuana.

    Presently, state regulators are finalizing rules and regulations governing its nascent medical cannabis program, which seeks to permit the production, dispensing, and use of non-herbal preparations of cannabis for qualified patients. Passage of SB 36 amends various criminal statutes to assure that those involved in the program are not inadvertently subject to criminal liability.

    LA resident? Click here to support this common sense legislation. 

    Nevada
    Senate legislation is pending, SB 236, to regulate the social use of cannabis.

    The measure allows select businesses to apply for licensing to permit adult marijuana use on their premises. It would also allow event organizers to seek permits to allow adult use at specific events.

    Update: SB 236 was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 4/12 and it passed as amended.

    NV resident? Click here to support marijuana social clubs in Nevada. 

    New Hampshire
    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.

    Update: Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 20 passed HB 157 out of Committee.

    NH resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers to support patients. 

    10 Responses to “Weekly Legislative Update 4/22/17”

    1. Joey says:

      I just wanted to say thank you to Justin and the rest of the NORML team for putting out these weekly roundups. They help keep me appraised of what is happening around the nation.

      The ease of being able to contact my representatives on important issues has made it more streamlined to state my beliefs and encourage further reform.

    2. Julian says:

      Daaang Justin! Beat me to it on the link to HB2200!
      Your weekly legislative roundup is awesome.
      Allow me to catalyze a Texas priority:
      http://www.senate.state.tx.us/cmte.php?c=610
      Texans use this link: we urgently need to contact our State Senators on the Senate Health Committee to get SB269 to legalize medical marijuana given a hearing by Chairmain Shwertner!
      Make sure you let them know what county youre from and that you vote in their district!
      My State Senator Buckingham had her Health and Executive Director Ginny tell me they “wont push the chairman for a hearing,” and that they “have conflicting evidence.”
      (Julian): “Conflicting evidence to the JAMA study showing %25 reduction in opiate addiction and suicide in states with legal medical marijuana? What evidence?”
      (Ginny): “Uh-uhhh-uhm… We just cant make a d-decision at this t-time…”
      (Julian): “Ginny, look, Senator Buckingham is a Doctor…”
      (Ginny): “And so is Sen. Shwertner…”
      (Julian): “…and were talking about saving the lives of veterans and severely epileptic children… Its very important that if you have conflicting evidence to the JAMA report, or any of the 25,000 peer-reviewed studies on PubMed that demonstrate the medical efficacy of marijuana, that you disclose that now…”
      (Ginny): L-Listen, I… I have to get into a c-committee hearing in 5 minutes…”
      (Julian): “Great, so just give me your source and we can follow up with a scheduled meeting through Connie…”
      (Ginny): … …
      (Julian): “Sheriff’s Associations have been backing off, lately. Who is it, Ginny?”
      (Ginny): …S-Senator B-Buckingham will have to answer that…”
      (Julian): “Then she will. I’ll get with Connie on a meeting time. Thank you for your time Ginny.”

      • Ha – Jax beat us – sent me the info last week, TX NORML emailed out the AA Thursday, Nat’l did Friday – we drove a ton of messages over the last 4 days.

        • Julian says:

          Jax is awesome. :-)
          Im real impressed with the way that she has been able to coordinate with Heather Fazio over at MPP’s Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. I know MPP is more industry oriented and NORML is more consumer advocacy in origin, which is why I start my citizen lobbying work with NORML. But working as a team like this has truly proven to be effective. We need to cultivate more team work between advocacy groups… a marijuana reform link needs to be shared! Have you checked out their webpage lately?

          https://www.texasmarijuanapolicy.org

          They link back to Texas NORML and they were the ones that linked me to SB269 being referred to the Health Committee.

    3. Toby Keith says:

      In Texas there is also HJR 46! In Nov 2018 a constitutional amendment to legalize is up for a vote!

      • Julian says:

        Hi Toby,
        I was exited about Joint Resolutions too… it sounds like what weve been trying to do in this movement since Keith Stroup and Goldstein first decriminalized small marijuana possession in Texas from LIFE in PRISON to what it currently is today; up to 6 months in jail and a $3,000 fine; and that is Give our Representatives a Joint and get them to Resolve prohibition! (Isnt that what a Joint Resolution should be?)
        Unfortunately In the state of Texas it first gets referred to the Secretary of State, then JR’s require a 2/3rds vote from each chamber, which is a tough hurdle to climb in a Republican controlled state legislature.
        http://www.house.state.tx.us/about-us/bill/

    4. Anonymous says:

      My view is that is the time to redirect resources. We have 8 states for rec., focus on them. I feel we need to pull and pool resources rather than investing in other states at this point other than states considered viable areas of investment for actual, realistic futures for some form of legalization of marijuana. We have an Attorney General who is anti-weed and who is very likely, SUCCESSFULLY, to attackz and DESTROY the legalization movement at least, terms of storefronts, do a minimum to moderate level of indiv. users and sellers, and, potentially even go so far as to declare groups like NORML, MPP, others, facilators of terrorist groups, etc. No, not crazy, reality.

      I feel we need to solidify our power with recreational states, and completely pull resources from all other states with, perhaps the exceptions of Vermont, NE states who MIGHT, though it is doubtful and pathetic, once again, this year, that they will, who have no immediate, realistic prospect of legalizing, and direct said resources toward more pressing matters and issues in our fight for legalization in OTHER AREAS. THANK YOU.

      • Anonymous says:

        So why not donate to state level organizations in those States rather than a national organization?

        People in the still illegal states donate significant funds and time to this national organization for the reform of marijuana laws.

    5. Matt says:

      I feel we need to solidify our power with recreational states, and completely pull resources from all other states with, perhaps the exceptions of Vermont, NE states who MIGHT, though it is doubtful and pathetic, once again, this year, that they will, who have no immediate, realistic prospect of legalizing, and direct said resources toward more pressing matters and issues in our fight for legalization in OTHER AREAS. THANK YOU.

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