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Weekly Legislative Update 5/13/17

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director May 13, 2017

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

    So much to talk about this week, so let’s start with our favorite villain, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This week, Sessions superseded the 2010 Holder Memo, regarding DOJ’s policy on charging and sentencing decisions – establishing what I like to now refer to as The Sessions Doctrine, in which he directed the the thousands of assistant U.S. attorneys to pursue “the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”

    NPR reports:

    Holder had asked prosecutors to avoid slapping nonviolent drug offenders with crimes that carried mandatory minimum sentences, practices that, as NPR’s Tamara Keith explains, “give judges and prosecutors little discretion over the length of a prison term if a suspect is convicted.” Holder’s recommendation had been aimed partly at helping reduce burgeoning prison populations in the U.S.

    Now, if prosecutors wish to pursue lesser charges for these low-level crimes, they will need to obtain approval for the exception from a U.S. attorney, assistant attorney general or another supervisor.

     

    This is yet another clear example of the Trump administrations escalation the failed War on Drugs.

    On a much brighter note, things moved quite a bit at the state level in 3 key battles.

    Delaware: Members of the House Revenue and Finance Committee voted 7 to 2 on May 10 to move HB 110 to the House floor. Because the measure seeks to amend criminal penalties, it requires a two-thirds majority from House members to move to the Senate for further consideration. The vote marks the first time the “1st State” that lawmakers have ever approved legislation seeking to legalize and regulate the adult use marijuana market.

    Iowa: In a last minute deal by Iowa state lawmakers and signed by the Govenor, an amended version of HF 524 is now the law of the land. The measure expands the state’s existing CBD exemption law, which was set to sunset this year, and expands it. Specifically, HF 524 permits patients with various qualifying conditions, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, AIDS and HIV, Crohn’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, to possess CBD with up to 3% THC. The bill also seeks to establish regulations for the manufacturing and dispensing of CBD products within the state.

    New Hampshire: Members of the Senate on May 11 voted 17 to 6 in favor of HB 640, to decriminalize marijuana in “The Granite State.” Because the Senate amended the bill’s language, it must return to the House for a concurrence vote, where it is expected to easily pass. Once reconciled, the bill goes to Governor Sununu, who has time and again affirmed his support for decriminalization.

    Vermont: S. 22, to eliminate civil and criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults has been passed by the Vermont legislature.

    If not vetoed by the Governor, the measure would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, and the cultivation of two mature marijuana and four immature plants in a private residence.

    Vermont would become the first state to completely depenalize the simple possession and cultivation of marijuana by the legislative process, thus breaking a stigma for legislators throughout the country.

    Unfortunately, in Texas, while we saw historic process to both establish a medical marijuana program and decriminalize the plant in the state, our efforts came up short this year as the deadline for floor votes came and past on Thursday.

    Texas NORML organized in a heroic fashion and I must give a special shoutout to their Executive Director Jax Finkel for all of her hard work and diligence. Never has the Lone Star state been so close on moving sane marijuana reform policy forward and we will now must build upon the tremendous momentum generated this year to achieve victories in the next legislative session. You can support Texas NORML’s work by clicking here. 

    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

    Delaware
    House floor vote pending for marijuana legalization legislation, HB 110. The measure establishes a regulated commercial market for cannabis cultivation and retail sales, but does not permit unlicensed, home cultivation.

    DE resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials to support legalization!

    New Hampshire
    Decriminalization legislation is on its way to the Governor.

    NH resident? Send him a note thanking him for his support. 

    Vermont
    Legislation to eliminate adult use marijuana penalties and study legalization sent to Governor.

    VT resident? Send a message to Gov. Scott now and call his office at (802) 828-3333

    Other Actions to Take

    Alaska
    State officials in Alaska are considering legislation, HJR 21, to urge the federal government to restrain from interfering in state marijuana laws.

    HJR 21 urges the current Administration to respect previous federal arrangements in regard to state laws and to continue a policy of allowing legalized states autonomy.

    The bill points to several reasons that Alaska would be harmed by a federal crackdown, ranging from economic ramifications to the confusion of law enforcement officers; federal enforcement would ultimately have negative results.

    AK resident? Click here to urge your lawmakers to stand up for Alaskans.

    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.”

    The majority of Californians desire a legally regulated marijuana market. Passage of this act will limit state or local agencies from working with the federal government to undermine these regulations.

    Update: Read third time and amended on May 8. Ordered to third reading.

    CA resident? Click here to urge your lawmakers to protect legal marijuana in your state. 

    Hawaii
    Legislation to expand Hawaii’s medical cannabis program has passed both legislative chambers.

    The bill expands the number of qualifying conditions eligible to receive cannabis therapy to include: lupus, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and autism. It also permits patients’ caregivers to engage in medical cannabis cultivation, among other changes.

    HI resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor urging them to sign the legislation. 

    New Jersey
    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently made public statements calling the notion of regulating adult marijuana use “beyond stupidity.”

    Yet, according to a 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton poll, nearly six in ten New Jersey adults support “legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over.” Similar percentages of voters through the country also endorse legalization.

    NJ resident? Click here to help us educate the Governor and his staff to the facts on marijuana.

    26 Responses to “Weekly Legislative Update 5/13/17”

    1. Julian says:

      5 Reasons why Sessions Drug War will fail:
      https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/5-reasons-jeff-sessions-drug-war-reboot-will-fail?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=B2C%20Newsletter%20-%20May%2013%20-%20Eng&utm_term=Master%20-%20Engaged%2C%20Active%2C%20Passive%2C%20or%20New

      And from our NORML deputy director Paul Arnentano:

      http://www.alternet.org/drugs/evidence-overwhelming-cannabis-exit-drug-major-addictions-not-gateway-new-ones

      As for Texas, just left the march on the capitol and spoke with one of the keynote speakers and staff director of communications for Senator Menendez, D-San Antonio (original author of SB269 to legalize medical marijuana) and interested him in a conversation about introducing an amendment to remaining bills during this session to get SH269 on the floor. He said “yes, we can persue that alternative.”
      I spoke with Jax and told her Im going to continue working with Rep. Isaac’s R-Dripping Springs office to push an amendment through the House. We have better momentum in the House considering the 77?cosponsors to HB2107.
      Legalization at the local and state level has overwhelmed AG Sessions before he even took office through voter caging.
      Say yes to marijuana reform and No to the Republican Crosscheck Program… and tell it to your state Representative NOW!!!

      Prohibitionists are no longer Sheriff’s Associations in Texas; its down to us vs. Big Pharma. And that war is determined by what WE choose to purchase.

      Annual Cause of Death in US According to CDC:
      Prescription meds kill +100,000
      Alcohol +100,000
      Tobacco +450,000
      Marijuana= ZERO

      • Julian says:

        A 6th reason Sessions Drug War will fail:

        The Special Council appointed by Deputy AG Rosenstein to investigate the Trump administration’s ties to Russia during elections has the authority to put Sessions in jail for lying to Congress about communicating with the Russians. More than likely Sessions will resign from this shitstorm and so will his Drug War.

        7th reason is pending on Governor Scott’s desk in Vermont. Will Vermont upset judicial precedent in marijuana policy and become the first state to legalize marijuana legislatively? If you live in Vermont its up to you! Call Scotts office now and tell him to sign the bill to legalize marijuana or stay out of the way and let it ride:

        http://governor.vermont.gov

    2. Mark Mitcham says:

      This is on YOU, Trump voters and supporters! I told you so, but you wouldn’t listen, you stupid motherfuckers. But never mind, I’m wasting my breath. Go back to bending over and spreading them for Trump. It’s what you do best.

      Where’s that little bitch MSimon? What’s he got to say now? Never mind, it’s just more pro-Trump horseshit, no doubt.

    3. Swami V says:

      Do you have an update on Pennsylvania?

    4. Matt says:

      Wanted to comment earlier on Sessions urging prosecutors to pursue the stiffest of charges against nonviolent and drug offenders….like a shark, circling, this is only the beginning. Perhaps his strategy is to keep circling closer and closer to attacking marijuana legalization before he strikes, making his intentions known in other related areas in criminal justice before addressing marijuana, so that, when he does, no one will be so surprised or shocked. Folks….the movement is in very serious danger, I don’t think anyone can deny that. Also, like I said, I am done with Vermont. They could have been the first in NE, now, they will, quite possibly, be the LAST. Matter of time, however, before we hear from Sessions, the next few months could be either a sigh of relief…..

      or a nightmare. Florida and Texas are sad cases as well. The movement is in trouble. While a severe crackdown and setback will never destroy us, we now need to stand together and strong, in the potential coming storm. It is extremely sad, painful, hurtful, infuriating, and disgusting, this return to the ways of the ignorant past, harsh sentences, and the STINK of a police-state that prosecutors, judges, prohibitionist, and over-zealous rehab and social worker zombies seem to love so much. The future is OURS, not theirs, of course, and young people will be our saviors in the coming enlightened generations…but, for now, we need to ride out this storm. Let us stand strong and keep fighting, but we MUST be ready. A great, monsterous storm is looming, and it’s name is Jefferson SESSIONS. He’s coming, folks. It’s coming.

      • Matt says:

        another shark-like move Sessions also has made, other than his vague comments/criticisms was when he fired those attorneys. He is perhaps baby-stepping it closer and closer to attacking legalization, move by move. Just a theory. I expect more moves such as these before a potential crackdown, which will be in phases (i.e. perhaps starting with warning letters, ultimatums, orders to governors, etc, again, may or may not actually happen but….)

        • Matt says:

          and no offense to the sharks. Or thunderstorms, which I usually actually enjoy, the weather kind, that is.

        • Evening Bud says:

          Matt,

          Sessions is a little prohibitionist rat, who wouldn’t acknowledge FACTS if they were shoved up his rectum. Listening to him spout his views on pot is like watching some ridiculous propaganda film from the ’40s and ’50s.

          You would think that his boss, Drumpenfuhrer, would be paying attention to the polls, you know, the ones that say Americans support legalization by 60-33%. But this is a guy who refused to acknowledge that he lost the election by 3 millions votes. Obviously, he only believes what he wants to believe–everything else is of course fake.

          But the bottom line is Trump chose a rabid prohibitionist as his AG. And his other close crony (puppet), Christie is another. Birds of a feather. Vultures of a feather.

          • MSimon says:

            Uh. Trump won the election by winning where it counted. In the Electoral College.

            Too bad Hillary couldn’t figure out the system – in effect for over 200 years.

            • Julian says:

              Well speaking of low-information voters, look who it is? Its MSimon, our Trump supporting contradiction with battered wife syndrome!
              Reading your other post regarding abused children taking opiates and heroin along with this one which supports Trump and his drug war which promotes abuse of… the SAME children you defend… along with reading the news with Trump’s mentally challenged symptoms of little-dick-finasteride addiction… and then recalling the countless posts where Ive explained to you repeatedly and patiently how Hillary would have continued President Obama’s Cole memos and drug policy for without which we would not HAVE state marijuana legalization for us to discuss…
              …seriously MSimon you need to seek help. You need a 12 step program to pull Trump out of your @$$ and I’ll bet you need a good media fast too. What are you infecting yourself with? Dirty needles and Britebart at bedtime? Fox News and Oxycontin for breakfast? Stand up for whats left of your integrity! Your contradictions are as embarrassing as they are counterproductive on a forum designed to legalize cannabis… This isnt the blog where we legalize voter caging or lying to the American people. You’ll have to slide down into a dumpster fire with Jack Hannity and Kris Kobach for that forum. Say hello to the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse while youre down there.

              If you truly wish to help abused and addicted children stop your psychotic hypocritical deplorable rants defending Trump and his selfish policies.
              As Kali Haloway recently put it, we cant even call Trump a con man at this point, as it insults hard working con men and women everywhere:

              http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/president-continues-be-terrible-everything-5-frightening-examples-trumps-incompetence

            • Evening Bud says:

              Of course, you’re conveniently leaving all the voter suppression, and electronic vote rigging out of your equation.

              But I’ll happily repeat that Hillary beat Drumpf by 3 millions votes. Just because we have an unfair, even corrupt, system to elect our officials is no reason to brag. Yes, Drumpf was better at gaming the system; GOPers do that all the time. Were it not for gerrymandering and voter suppression, electronic vote rigging, GOPers would be watching everything from the sidelines.

            • Mark Mitcham says:

              @ MSimon,

              Trump colluded with a hostile foreign power, Russia, to rig the election in his favor — which is consistent with the fact that Trump has been a con-artist and a fraud his whole life.

              The people who voted for him are racist assholes.

              But we patriotic Americans are going to run your huckster Trump right the hell out of town. Brace yourself, fool!

      • Overgrowem says:

        Fl. movement in trouble? Vibes I get is Legislative Medical rules bungle is just hardening peeps resolve to move ahead in 20.

    5. Julian says:

      The Trump Sessions drug war 3 against marijuana legalization and blaming victims of predatory opiate synthetics is already back firing in the Republican controlled Senate:

      https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/05/14/us/politics/trump-republican-senators.html

      The mask is off for even the lowest intelligence voter. Sessions went to West Virginia and blamed the victims of an opiate epidemic for the predatory behavior of Big Pharma in the state that suffers worse from addiction and suicide. Trump wants to drain the ONDCP and give that money to himself and Chris the-angry-puppet-show Christi?
      Is it any suprise that a Senator from West Virginia is defecting?
      Or in Arizona, where libertarian Jeff Flake voted for Sessions, the drama of fentanyl-producing villainous Insys Therapeutics went well reported within social media on how they pay off doctors to overprescribe deadly synthetic opiates and effectively stopped a Marijuana Legalization initiative that is now coming back in 2018 when Senator Flake-out needs to get reelected?
      Trump stepped on the new Third Rail of American politics: opposing marijuana legalization and inciting a new drug war. Progressive Democrats couldnt have been handed an easier path to victory during 2018 Congressional elections. Continue to click on the green Act tab. Its working.

      • Matt says:

        Good to hear, thank you, Julian, there is always hope….

        • Matt says:

          oh yeah, and listening to Trump speaking at the police event right now, apparently Sessions is there as well. I started to think about it….Sessions is clearly cracking down on drug dealers of all type or will be, but clearly marijuana legalization is going to be a problem for him to stop abruptly. I still believe Sessions realizes it is going to cause a major headache because he will be facing opposition from governors, public, many lawsuits, all kinds of barriers even though he has the ultimate say, at least, according to Federal law. It is going to be, perhaps other than relief or sheer outrage..interesting. Painful, but interesting. Even Jeff Sessions realizes that this is it….he starts a crackdown it will be a WAR. States v. Feds. He spoke of resources….does he REALLY want to drag the DOJ and DEA into what could be over a year or longer of constant crackdown delays, lawsuits, protests, PR image crises, etc? Even if he does NOT care, and think what you will about Sessions, but surely he, at the very least must realize, even if he does not care, he is going to have a ton of problems if he attempts a full crackdown. If he has a RATIONAL mind, he will devote his resources and those of the DEA, DOJ toward the real problems, such as the opiate and heroin crisis, VIOLENT criminals and gangs, the REASONS for violence, drug addiction, poverty, peer pressure, etc, and support COMMUNITY policing, other less oppressive means to assist in the REAL war on addiction and drugs. We can never stop human nature for everyone, perhaps, but he needs to target the real dangers in our society, legalization is here to stay. Broken windows, Do Drugs, Do Time, terrible, terrible approaches, and harkens back to the 80s, which apparently is where his mindset still is.

          • Matt says:

            We can never stop human nature for everyone, perhaps, but he needs to target the real dangers in our society, legalization is here to stay. Broken windows, Do Drugs, Do Time, terrible, terrible approaches, and harkens back to the 80s, which apparently is where his mindset still is. We must stand strong. It does bring me potential comfort that even the old man knows people are NOT going to be happy with him or the DEA or DOJ AT ALL if he cracksdown. Sessions knows he can’t win, but what is most disgusting and irritating is that he might crackdown anyway at least for his time in office. Smh. More later, and I have not forgotten to get back to the MI legalize post. I still hesitate to turn on the news much any more for now, can’t bear the destruction the Trump admin. is already doing to America. Later.

          • MSimon says:

            Ah. Yes. The opiate crisis.

            People in chronic pain chronically take pain relievers.

            14-Year Veteran Undercover Cop Exposes Truth About The Drug War: “I Used To Believe I Was Doing Good”

            “When I went into policing I thought addicts had made the mistake of trying drugs and had no willpower to stop. Actually, problematic drug users – or at least all the ones I knew – were self medicating. Most of the heroin users I knew were self-medicating for childhood trauma, whether physical or sexual. As an undercover officer I spent a great deal of time getting to know these people.

            ***

            I have been saying that for over 12 years.

            What I’m looking for now is a Christian explanation for making war on abused children.

            • Julian says:

              When you contradict yourself by defending Trump’s predatory policies you dont appear to be genuinely burdened by “explanations” or facts of any kind, MSimon.
              So rather than look for Christian “justifications” for your guilty Trump-supporting conscience, why not seek the higher moral ground in the truth thats available to you right here on this webpage? Links to facts and evidence abound you like water and yet the fool is still thirsty?
              But if it is Christian wisdom you seek, here are some verses about speaking and seeking the Truth and warning us of the worship of false idols such as TrumPutin;

              Galatians 4:16

              “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?”

              Corinthians 4:2

              “…but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

              Mathew 25:44

              “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?” And the Lord said, “even what you did for the least of these, my brethren, you did it for me.”

              Jonah 2:8

              “Those who pay regard to false, useless, and worthless idols forsake their own [Source of] mercy and loving-kindness.”

              Now that I have you well versed, beware seeking truth from a single source: even the bible. This last verse was read to African-American slaves by their overseers to convince them to accept their abuse:

              Peter 2:20

              “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.”

              Who is your overseer MSimon? Is it Trump? Or the false pride that makes you feel Trump will make you increase if other victims will decrease?

              “Open your eyes and look within. Are you satisfied with the life youre livin?”

              -Robert Nesta Marley

    6. TheOracle says:

      Not that long ago Pennsylvania Governor Wolf said in effect that while he supported medical marijuana that he thought the Pennsylvania wasn’t ready for legal adult recreational. That was then, this is now. According to a recent Franklin & Marshall College poll, a majority of Pennsylvanians now want recreational marijuana legalized, too.

      Come on, Pennsylvania!

      http://wesa.fm/post/medical-cannabis-implemented-wolf-says-pa-not-ready-recreational-weed#stream/0

      http://local21news.com/news/local/majority-of-pennsylvania-voters-support-legalizing-marijuana-poll-finds

      http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/03/could_legalizing_marijuana_be.html

    7. Dick Tator says:

      This is what happens after America goes coup coup?

      What court will defend your rights… when a Dictator says NO?

    8. Dick Tator says:

      Does The Supreme Court rule supreme over a Dictator?

    9. Dick Tator says:

      Ad Hoc President

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