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Weekly Legislative Update 5/6/17

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director May 6, 2017

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

    The biggest story this week in the marijuana world was the inclusion of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer language (Section 537) in the omnibus spending package to prevent the Department of Justice from interfering with lawful state-regulated medical marijuana consumers and businesses.

    In a signing statement by President Trump, expressed that he “will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed” when it comes to Section 537. The lack of clarity is disturbing and casts doubt on whether his administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions will honor the enforcement restrictions. In the past, the courts have upheld this tactic of Congress legislating through the appropriations process, however it will ultimately take a bill to end this tension between the federal and state laws, not just temporary spending riders.

    Marijuana Big Talks Speaker Lineup FINAL 5.3 copyAlso this week, Representative Jared Polis held an event in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building solely focused on marijuana policy. Speakers included Boulder County D.A. Stan Garnett and former Colorado NORML Executive Director Rachel Gillette.

    For the whole morning, the halls of Rayburn echoed with the words of cannabis reformers declaring the need for sensible policies on marijuana ranging from the need for 280E tax reform to an end to the delusional thought that a southern boarder wall will stop the drug trade.

    At the state level, this has been a very active week for marijuana reformers as additional states near the end of their legislative calendars. Progress has been made from Texas moving forward to establish a medical marijuana program to Vermont inching closer towards outright legalization. Yet with the end of the Florida legislative session, the House and Senate were unable to come to a compromise as how to implement Amendment 2 and now the rule making process will be left up to the Florida Department of Health.

    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

    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

    New Hampshire

    After nearly a decade of frustration, 2017 may finally be the year that New Hampshire voters successfully see marijuana possession decriminalized.

    HB 640, 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.

    Update: Governor Chris Sununu has reiterated his support for decriminalizing marijuana.

    NH resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers telling them to act on decriminalization this year. 

    Texas

    Legislation to authorize the possession, production, and distribution of medical marijuana and marijuana-infused products to qualified patients. Patients would receive cannabis through a network of private dispensaries and operators, similar to pharmacies, regulated under “strict guidelines” by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

    Update: HB 2107 had a hearing on May 2 and after powerful targeted testimony, the number of cosponsors for the bill jumped from 5 to 75. Later in the week, the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Health approved HR 2107 on May 5 by a vote of 7-2. The bill will now be considered by the Calendars Committee to determine the date of the full House vote.

    TX resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and tell them to support the bill. 

    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.

    Update: The Senate has passed on May 5 an unrelated bill (S. 22) to include the provisions of H. 170. It maintains House approved language eliminating penalties for the possession and cultivation of personal use amounts of marijuana by July 2018, but also creates a new Marijuana Regulation Commission, to draft legislation by November 1, 2017 that “establishes a comprehensive regulatory and revenue system for an adult-use marijuana market that, when compared to the current illegal marijuana market, increases public safety and reduces harm to public health.” The commission’s bill would be ready for a vote by January 2018.

    VT resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and urge them to take swift action to pass the bill. 

    Additional Actions to Take

    Colorado

    State officials in Colorado are considering legislation, SB 192, to protect the state’s adult use marijuana industry in case of a potential federal crackdown.

    The bill would permit adult use growers and sellers to instantly reclassify their recreational marijuana inventory as medical marijuana “based on a business need due to a change in local, state, or federal law or enforcement policy.” In recent weeks, officials from the Trump administration have indicated that they may consider taking action against recreational marijuana providers, but that they will not likely move against state-licensed medical marijuana providers.

    Update: House members approved SB 192 on May 3 by a vote of 58 to 5. Because of House amendments, the bill returns to the Senate, which must either re-approve the measure or seek reconciliation.

    CO resident? Click here to contact your elected officials in support of 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.

    Specifically, it provides immunity from arrest for those enrolled in the program who engage in activities related to the purchase or transportation of medical marijuana related products or paraphernalia. It provides further legal protections for pharmacies, producers, and testing laboratories engaged in medical cannabis related activities.

    Update: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted without opposition to move SB 35 to the Senate floor.

    LA resident? Click here to contact your elected officials in support of this effort.

    Maine

    Legislation is pending to expedite the retail sale of marijuana products to those over the age of 21.

    LD 1448 and LD 1491 would permit licensed medical cannabis dispensaries the opportunity to “sell limited marijuana retail products to a person who is 21 years of age or older.”

    A majority of voters in November approved an initiated measure to permit the possession, production, and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products. However, emergency legislation signed into law in January delays the implementation of regulations overseeing the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana until at least February 1, 2018.

    Passage of these measures would allow dispensaries to engage in marijuana sales ahead of this date.

    ME resident? Click here to contact your elected officials in support of this effort.

    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 May 4 passed HB 160 out of Committee.

    NH resident? Click here to contact your elected officials in support of this effort.

    New York

    Legislation is moving forward, A. 7006, to allow patients with post-traumatic stress eligible for medical cannabis therapy.

    New York is one of the only states with a medical marijuana program that does not allow patients with PTSD access to medical cannabis.

    Update: The New York Assembly passed A 7006 on May 2. The bill now awaits action by the Senate. Governor Andrew Cuomo says that he is open to expanding the state’s medical cannabis program to include patients with PTSD.

    NY resident? Click here to urge your lawmakers to support this effort.

    Vermont

    If approved, SB 16 would permit physicians for the first time to recommend medical marijuana to patients with post-traumatic stress, Crohn’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease. The measure also allows physicians to immediately issue medical cannabis recommendations for patients suffering from cancer, a terminal illness, or under hospice care supervision.

    Update: Members of the House gave preliminary approval SB 16 on May 1. Once a final vote is recorded, the measure will be transmitted to the Governor’s office.

    VT resident? Click here to urge the Governor to sign SB 16.

    15 Responses to “Weekly Legislative Update 5/6/17”

    1. Me says:

      Nothing on the Florida legislature not coming to an agreement on medical marijuana regulation? Although I’m not the least bit surprised they couldn’t give to the will of over 71% of Florida voters. Now we have to rely on an even worse Department of Health coming up with a plan by July.

    2. Hector ortiz says:

      Whats going on in the great state of Delaware!!

    3. Mark Mitcham says:

      I’ve clicked on the CO action link. Thank you, NORML, for the chance to participate in my own liberation.

      I fully support the legislation that would enable growers and sellers of cannabis to re-classify cannabis from “recreational” to “medical” in the event of a federal crackdown. But as a patient, no such legislative action is nneccessary — just wipe that “illegal smile” off your face!

    4. TheOracle says:

      Just saw Manchin (West Virginia) on CBS this Sunday morning, and he was talking about no way is Trump really going to cut the drug czar’s office’s budget by 95%. Shifting that money to this other deal Trump set up that is supposed to be run by Chris Christie is NOT the way to go because later on both agencies will want full funding, which worse than costing taxpayers more money is that the war against marijuana will rage again, along with the war on drugs in general.

      This would be perfect for Trump to make the pivot to go with the flow on cannabis legalization by limiting the amount of money the drugs czar’s office can spend on cannabis prohibition to 5% of its budget and the rest has to be focused on the opioid crisis, and forget about this thing with Chris Christie. Just cancel that thing, and then there won’t be a second anti-drugs agency coming after the cannabis community if the Donald doesn’t pivot from against legal adult to neutral on legal adult and leaving it up to the states. Trump, just have Sessions issue a memo that only 5% of his budget can be used on monitoring cannabis compliance. Have DOJ issue a memo supportive of this that nudges legalization along a bit more toward the legalization end of the cannabis continuum.

      http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/05/05/ondcp-budget-cut-drug-addiction-treatment-opioids/79047/

    5. mexweed says:

      The Louisiana report mentions (a) non-herbal preparations and (b)medical marijuana related products or paraphernalia.
      .
      Vaporization permits using herbal flowerbud in a way that omits carbon monoxide and 4221 combustion toxins known to produce harmful symptoms traditionally blamed on the cannabis. Support present bill but press for further changes incorporating recognition of vapor microdosages of herbal flowerbud.
      .
      Remaining question: persuade legislators to recognize the DIY flexdrawtube oneheater (made from #40 screen, 1/4″ tube and $1.29 worth of parts lying around in your garage, see “How-to-Make-Pipes-from-Everyday-Objects”) as a vaporizer, even though untrained users might at first try $moking with it (until they have learned the Low Lighter One Hit Vape Toke Technique).
      .
      Hope not to see the sneaky smear word “paraphernalia” much longer, with its echoes of “paranoia”, “infernal”, “alien” prejudicing ignorant readers against microdosage utensils.

    6. Julian says:

      Oh what interesting momentum we have in cannabis legalization. By the time Trump can elect prohibitionist Federal judges, or get his prohibition machine rolling with his Batman villains like Christi, Marino, Kelley, Sessions and the FDA in Big Pharma’s pocket, state legalization will already have secured enough legislative triumph we can get a three judge panel to really “Tri-umph” over Drumph. We have until September before the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment needs to be renewed. (Jeez! JUST when I learn how to spell “Rohrabacher” now they take “Farr” away and switch it to “Blumehower.” For the LOVE of ALL thats GOOD and HOLY!!! WHAT do we have to SPELL just to LEGALIZE some MARIHUANA!!)
      (Ehemm…)
      By then, Vermont could very well be the first state to have signed and implemented legislatively enacted marijuana reform into active policy. (I know, the Governor still needs to sign it but Hickenlooper was a vocal openent in Colorado and look at him now!)
      And of course, theres Texas; HB2107 to legalize medical marijuana is in the Calendar Committee and HB81 to decriminalize was supposedly already pending schedule for the first House floor vote of its kind in more than three decades! There exists the real possibility that if we pressure our state Senators Governor Abbott could look the other way and let the bills ride without his signature and they could take effect in September! Click on the ACT tab and CALL your Representative NOW!
      How’s that for a legalization triad? If the FDA-DEA-NIDA triad has us in catch 22 on the Federal level then California-Texas and Vermont are about to tip the scales coming from the grassroots state level.
      What could possibly make this green tsunami any higher?
      Oh, look at this? Goodell is getting isolated by the NFLPA and Eugene Munroe’s ongoing battle to change NFL’s marijuana policy:
      http://www.alternet.org/drugs/nfl-gets-ready-tackle-marijuana?akid=15529.2366751.AMH9F1&rd=1&src=newsletter1076560&t=6

    7. Julian says:

      Update HB2107; Texas mmj bill:

      http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=85R&Bill=HB2107

      Chairman Four Price (At least his name is easy to spell) was one of two votes against the Bill in the Health Committee. The other no vote was from Rep. Click, which makes no sense because she authored the Compassionate Use Program of 2015… And what kind of heartless, spineless human being could vote no in front of a poweful hearing with so much evidence?
      What are we supposed to do? Vote for people with complicated hard-to-spell last names to reform marijuana law?
      So Price wants more regulation$ (tran$lation: money from Big Pharma because getting money for reelection is more important to him than saving lives… we’re keeping track of you, Price). But the vote was 7-2. If Representative Lucio couldnt work amendments out yesterday then the bill dies this session, and possibly some of the children those parents represented.
      Its all on Price.

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.texasobserver.org/texas-house-medical-marijuana-proposal/amp/

    8. Matt says:

      Vermont might want to wait until next year. Why? They will need to develop a plan to override what I think will be a governor’s veto. Scott still does not get it and is not seeing the big picture on marijuana. Vermont is a sad state of affairs despite this news. The state just won’t see common sense and legalize.

    9. Matt says:

      And Rep. Polis was on Fox Business. Great job, sir!!

    10. Catherine says:

      Thanks for all your work. Please add me to your email list.

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