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Advocacy

  • by Jeff Riedy, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley NORML August 16, 2018

    Greetings from your friends at Lehigh Valley NORML! With Summer rushing by, we just wanted to check in with our supporters. We want to fill you in on recent activities and upcoming meetings, events, and happenings.

    As many of you hopefully already know, we have planned a Rally and Lobby Day in Harrisburg for Monday, September 24, along with our friends at Pittsburgh NORML, Keystone Cannabis Coalition, AND ACLU-PA. The Rally is 10-11 AM, with lobbying to follow. We hope that many of you can find the time to join us. To help bring our friends to the rally, we have priced out a chartered bus with TransBridge, seating 56 people. The bus would leave the Lehigh Valley at 7am from the William Penn Rideshare off Route 33, between Freemansburg Avenue and William Penn Highway. And would bring everybody to Harrisburg and then back home around 6pm.

    If we fill the bus (56 person capacity), it would cost $25pp at full price. HOWEVER, Lehigh Valley NORML IS PAYING HALF THE COST OF THE BUS, and may have a benefactor to help with the other half. So, with our contribution, a full bus will cost each rider $12.50 ($14pp w/ 50 riders to $20pp w/ 35 riders), but you’ll have to be one of the first to register for the bus. We expect a few backouts and will accept about 100 registrants, BUT only 56 seats will be available (unless we find benefactors to cover a second bus). We will call in chronological order to reserve your spot on the bus. There are already a few people pre-registered. Don’t hesitate, as we’ll need to confirm riders by the end of the month, with payment in full. We are allowing our mailing list advanced notice, but by week’s end we will reveal the remaining inexpensive seats to all on Facebook.

    **We cannot smoke on the bus, but we’re working on a cool after-party when we return! Please CLICK HERE to reserve your seat!**

    LOBBYING? We’ll be lobbying in Harrisburg after the Rally. Soon we’ll be setting up a scheduler to help organize lobbying appointments for those who want to press their legislators.

    UPCOMING FESTIVALS… We want to remind everybody that we’ll have a booth at Pride in the Park this coming Sunday, August 19, noon-6pm. Because of recent rains, the festival is at Allentown’s Jewish Community Center, at 22nd and Tilghman Sts.. We also plan to table ArtsFest again this year, September 28-30, at Allentown’s Cedar Beach Park.

    PETITIONING EASTON is still in our mind. We hope to start organizing people, petitions, and clipboards for Downtown Easton in the coming weeks. If you might have some spare time to ask for residents’ signatures on a petition pressing City Council to reconsider Citywide Decrim, drop us a note, please! We hope to make this the start of our Action Committees, to help us coordinate future events and volunteers, as we build our community.

    NEXT MEETING: As August flies by, we’re already planning for our September meeting. We are hosting an all-afternoon family affair, and renting the larger pavilion (closest to street) at Illicks Mill/ Monocacy Park in Bethlehem on Sunday September 16, noon-6pm. There will be a short meeting, and then we’ll just hang, play, commune, drink beers (canned beers allowed), and eat some food. Maybe a POT LUCK (wink)? Bring the kids. Pack a basket!

    Meeting page: http://www.facebook.com/events/2138643323124158/?ti=icl

    WEEDSTOCK, hosted by our friends at Delaware NORML is happening August 24-26. Two days of bands, camping, and fun in the First State! Details can be found here:  http://www.facebook.com/events/181136362592813/?ti=icl

    Finally, we want thank everybody who came out to say hello at the GRATEFUL FOR GREG fundraiser the other week. The incident at Bernville was tragic and still hurts, but we managed to get some media coverage, opening a view to the world. All over TEN PLANTS! Our work is not done, until incidents like this never happen again.

    In the Leaf ?

    Lehigh Valley NORML

    P.S. Here is the Facebook Event page for the Harrisburg Rally. Please RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/2081707708735937/?ti=ia

    P.P.S. And please remember that all these programs we run and events we help fund happen only through your kind donations and merchandise purchases. We’ll soon have a revenue site up, but in the meantime DONATE, DONATE, DONATE. Hit us up on PayPal with your donation @ lehighvnorml@gmail.com.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director August 14, 2018

    Due to growing concerns about the impact America’s opioid crisis is having on his state, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval along with Governors Steve Bullock of Montana, Charlie Backer of Massachusetts, and Kate Brown of Oregon, recently sent a letter to federal lawmakers requesting support for state and local-level initiatives:

    “Every day governors face the devastating impact of this disease on our communities, health care system, schools and families,” the letter reads. “Governors need increased financial and technical support to address this crisis and we urge Congress to avoid burdensome requirements on state programs.”

    Read more here: https://www.nga.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NGA-Letter-6.7.2018.pdf

    In addition to his formal request for Congressional support, Governor Sandoval created the Governor’s Opioid State Action Accountability Task Force to explore, among other things, education and guidelines for treatment options and data collection.

    Click here to urge the Governor’s Opioid State Action Accountability Task Force to acknowledge the role that marijuana can play in combating Nevada’s opioid epidemic

    When asked about the Governor’s actions, Executive Director of Nevada NORML Madisen Saglibene had this to say: “State data shows that per 100,000 patients, Nevada ranks 2nd highest for hydrocodone and oxycontin addiction in the nation. Furthermore, Las Vegas ranked 4th highest in the nation for methadone, and 7th for codeine. So while we appreciate the efforts of Governor Sandoval, we’re encouraging members the the Governor’s Task Force to consider the positive role access to marijuana can play in addressing this issue.”

    Several observational studies – such as those here, here, and here – find that medical marijuana regulation is correlated with reductions in opioid-related use, drug spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Separate data evaluating prescription drug use trends among individual patients enrolled in state-licensed medical marijuana programs is consistent with this conclusion, finding that many chronic pain subjects reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following enrollment.

    Nevada lawmakers should not ignore the reality that access to marijuana can play a role in mitigating the opioid abuse crisis. Use NORML’s online action center below to urge members of the Governor’s Opioid State Action Accountability Task Force to acknowledge the positive role that access to marijuana is playing in combating the prescription drug overdose epidemic, and promoting greater public health and safety.

    Click here to urge the Governor’s Opioid State Action Accountability Task Force to acknowledge the role that marijuana can play in combating Nevada’s opioid epidemic

    Is there an active opioid commission or task force in your community? Email KevinM@NORML.org and we’ll create an action alert to engage and educate your elected officials about the role access to marijuana can play in reducing opioid-related deaths, hospitalizations, and total number of opioids prescribed.

  • by NORML August 8, 2018

    Today, Congressman Charlie Crist held a press conference to announce the introduction of the Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act, HR 6589.

    The bipartisan bill would explicitly bar federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a cannabis consumer, or due to testing positive for marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

    Send a message to your Representative in support of this bill now!

    “Medical marijuana is an issue of compassion, and in the veterans’ community, access is even more important as more and more veterans are turning to cannabis to address chronic pain and PTSD. At the same time, the federal government is the largest employer of veterans; however, private cannabis use even in states that have legalized medical marijuana is prohibited in these positions,” said Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL). “Our bipartisan bill would protect federal employment for those in compliance with their state’s cannabis laws. Because our veterans shouldn’t have to choose between treatment options or job opportunities.”

    “The time for the federal government to end the practice of arbitrarily discriminating against current and potential workers for marijuana consumption is now,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “With 47 states having reformed their cannabis laws to be in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act, individuals acting in compliance with state law should not be denied the opportunity to serve their country as public servants.”

    Enacted in 1986, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program made it a condition for employment that all civilian employees at executive branch agencies be prohibited from using federally illegal substances on or off duty. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 31 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, and 46 states have some form of medical marijuana law; however, it remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, federal employees can be denied employment or terminated due to testing positive for marijuana metabolites, even if their use is in compliance with state law. This conflict between state and federal laws limits treatment options and federal employment opportunities, particularly impacting veterans who comprise approximately one-third of the federal workforce and whose medical cannabis use to treat chronic pain and PTSD has been found to be double the rate of the general public. A recent American Legion poll found that one in five veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

    Changes in the legal status of marijuana at the state level have not negatively impacted workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that the legalization of medical marijuana access 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.

    In 2018, legislative efforts to reform employment laws were either attempted or successful in California, Florida, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, among others.

    Send a message to your Congressperson now and urge them to cosponsor the bill!

    Bill Overview:

    •   The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act prohibits marijuana metabolite testing from being used as the sole factor to deny or terminate federal employment for civilian positions at executive branch agencies if the individual is in compliance with the marijuana laws in their state of residence.
    •   The bill only extends to an individual’s past, private use of cannabis, and does not prohibit probable cause testing if an individual is believed to be impaired at work.
    •   The bill does not apply to individuals occupying or seeking a position requiring a top-secret clearance.
  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director August 7, 2018

    With six meetings scheduled before next year’s legislative session, members of Colorado’s Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee are working diligently to address an issue many local and state governments are currently struggling with across America. As the total number of opioid-related deaths continues to grow beyond the more than 40,000 deaths that were reported in 2016, lawmakers are willing to consider all options.

    Click here to urge Colorado’s Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee to acknowledge the role that marijuana can play in combating Colorado’s opioid epidemic

    The committee was established earlier this year with the passage of House Bill 18-1003 to explore what other states are doing to address substance use disorders, explore harm reduction, treatment, and recovery option, and of course identify possible legislative solutions.

    “Among other initiatives, the committee will study data and statistics on the scope of the substance use disorder problem in the state, study current prevention, intervention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery resources available to citizens, as well as public and private insurance coverage and other sources of support for treatment and recovery resources and examine measures other states and countries use to address substance use disorders.”

    Read more from The Pueblo Chieftain

    Several observational studies – such as those here, here, and here – find that medical marijuana regulation is correlated with reductions in opioid-related use, drug spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Separate data evaluating prescription drug use trends among individual patients enrolled in state-licensed medical marijuana programs is consistent with this conclusion, finding that many chronic pain subjects reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following enrollment. Colorado lawmakers should not ignore the reality that access to marijuana can play a role in mitigating the opioid abuse crisis.

    Click here to urge Colorado’s Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee to acknowledge the role that marijuana can play in combating Colorado’s opioid epidemic

    Is there an active opioid commission or task force in your community? Email KevinM@NORML.org and we’ll create an action alert to engage and educate your elected officials about the role marijuana can play in reducing opioid-related deaths, hospitalizations, and total number of opioids prescribed.

     

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate August 3, 2018

    Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!Legalize marijuana

    Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-GA) filed a new bill in the US House of Representatives this week to shield federal employees from being fired for marijuana use that is legal in the state in which they live.

    The Oklahoma Board of Health reversed course this week and revoked their previous set of proposed rules that went against the intent of SQ 788, which voters approved in the June special election. This reversal comes shortly after the state’s Attorney General warned health officials that they “acted in excess of their statutory authority” when they amended State Question 788. These new rules now go to Governor Fallin’s desk, she has 45 days to approve or reject them. As a reminder, the proposed rules remove the ban on the retail sale of herbal cannabis, eliminate the requirement that dispensaries hire state-licensed pharmacists, and no longer mandate that women of childbearing age undergo a pregnancy test prior to receiving a medical cannabis recommendation.

    Missouri’s secretary of state certified that three separate medical cannabis initiatives have enough signatures to appear on the November ballot. The Missouri Constitution specifies that if conflicting initiative measures appear on the same ballot, the one which receives the most votes will prevail. It is likely that all three of these measures will have the support of a majority of the voters. Two are constitutional amendments and the third is a statutory initiative.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) formed a working group to draft marijuana legalization legislation for the legislature to consider in 2019. And Hawaii regulators convened a working group to address employment issues for medical cannabis patients as well as edibles manufacturing.

    Also at the state level, about half of the medical cannabis dispensaries in Pennsylvania began selling medical cannabis in herbal form to registered patients, and the other half are anticipated to do the same this coming week. And Rhode Island medical cannabis dispensaries began serving out-of-state patients.

    Additionally, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill allowing medical cannabis in schools. Also, autism and obstructive sleep apnea became Minnesota medical cannabis qualifying conditions on Wednesday.

    At a more local level, Manhattan’s district attorney announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana use or possession.

    The Racine, Wisconsin City Council is considering placing a marijuana legalization advisory question on the November ballot, and similarly, the Eau Claire County, Wisconsin Administration Committee voted to advance consideration of marijuana advisory ballot questions. The Oregon, Ohio City Council placed a marijuana depenalization measure on the November ballot, but a proposed Nelsonville, Ohio marijuana decriminalization measure did not qualify for the November ballot.

    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.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

    End Cannabis Criminalization: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

    Click here to e-mail your senators and urge them to support this important legislation

    Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    Senate Bill 20-62 seeks to legalize the personal use and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for adults age 21 or older, and establish a licensing scheme for its commercial production and retail sale. The tax revenue would be used to fund the implementation of the program and other government services.

    Update: The House of Representatives sent SB 20-62 back to committee on 8/1, but will soon introduce its own version of the legislation that should solve procedural issues around it being a revenue generating measure.

    CNMI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization and regulation

    California

    Expungement

    Assembly Bill 1793 seeks “to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.

    Update: AB 1793 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 8/6 at 10am in the John L. Burton Hearing Room.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

    Banking

    Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

    Update: SB 9030 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 8/8 at 9am in the State Capitol, Room 4202.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access for cannabis businesses

    That’s all the legislative updates for this week!

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