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  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate May 18, 2018

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

    Good news – on Thursday the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee for the first time heard and passed language, known as the Joyce amendment, to restrict funding for the Department of Justice to prosecute state-legal medical marijuana programs.

    At the state level, Governor Jeff Colyer (R) of Kansas signed a bill exempting CBD from the definition of marijuana. Until then, Kansas was one of the four states in the US that had not reformed it’s marijuana laws to any extent. Now, it’s just down to three – South Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska.

    Additionally, Governor Doug Ducey (R) of Arizona signed hemp legislation into law, the Illinois Senate sent a bill allowing medical cannabis at schools to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), and Michigan’s House speaker said the legislature won’t take up marijuana legalization and will instead leave it up to the voters this November.

    At a more local level, district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn announced that with limited exception, low-level marijuana-related offenses would no longer be prosecuted. And The Allentown, Pennsylvania City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

    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 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 Federal 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 e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    Rhode Island

    Senator Joshua Miller introduced legislation, SB 2895, to regulate adult use marijuana possession and provide for adult use retail sales.

    The measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to two marijuana plants in private, and establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities.

    RI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization

    Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    SB 20-62 seeks to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis in the US territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

    If passed, the bill would 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: SB 20-62 was approved by the Senate on 5/15.

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

    Louisiana

    HB 579 and HB 627 seek to expand the state’s nascent medical cannabis program.

    The measures would expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis by permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, severe muscle spasms, autism or glaucoma.

    Update: HB 579 was approved by the House on 5/16 by a 55-33 vote. HB 627 was also approved by the House on 5/16, by a 59-27 vote. Both bills now await action from Governor John Bel Edwards.

    LA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of medical expansion

    New Jersey

    S 10, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program. The measure would increase the number of licenses the Department of Health can issue to new providers in order to meet New Jersey’s increased patient demand.

    Other provisions in the bill would protect medical cannabis patients from employment, housing, and education discrimination.

    NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

    California

    AB 2069 seeks to strengthen employment rights for medical cannabis patients.

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

    Update: AB 2069 was supposed to be heard by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee on 5/16, but the hearing was postponed by the committee.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment rights for patients

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    California

    Taxes
    AB 3157 seeks to temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis.

    Update: AB 3157 was supposed to be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 5/16, but the hearing was postponed by the committee.

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

    Banking
    SB 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

    Update: SB 930 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/22 at 10am in the John L. Burton Hearing Room.

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

    That’s all for this week, check back next week for more legislative updates!

  • by Matthew Maulding, Executive Director, NORML of Catawba Valley May 14, 2018

    North Carolina NORML along with several other pro-cannabis organizations recently organized the Tar Heel State’s largest pro-cannabis march in recent memory. There were people from across the state, and even some long time residents that had to move to a state that allows them to medicate the way they want, despite having a majority of their families here.

    On April 20th, we saw the biggest push for reform at a federal level ever by North Carolinians. North Carolina NORML along with veterans, people with disabilities, and folks from all walks of life were able to come together and march in solidarity with one another.

    The cannabis movement has been stagnant in North Carolina, at best. There is a great divide in supporters who are ready for any small step, even if that means giving up their right to grow their own or even to medicate with “flower” or bud. Other supporters within the state have a sense that if they settle for “extract only” laws or laws that restrict growing rights, that they will not be able to get those rights added in later.

    To see fractions of the movement come together for this event is enormously satisfying. Under new leadership, North Carolina NORML has began turning up the heat and focused on getting people involved. We understand that people need to be constantly involved otherwise they get bored and move on. We need to make sure everyone is engaged, and informed , and that is what we have done, and will continue to do.

    In addition to the 4/20 march which focused on an end to marijuana prohibition federally, we also took part in the Global Marijuana March on May 5th and have held monthly public meetings across the state to increase visibility and to give people an opportunity to start their own chapter. To continue the fight, North Carolina NORML is hosting its first Lobby Day next Tuesday, May 22, 2018, where members will be focused on inviting supporters of marijuana law reform efforts to educate lawmakers (RSVP HERE).

    If you are a North Carolina voter, look forward to a voter guide on NC NORML’s website to help you choose candidates in the general election who favor (or not) and will sponsor bills if elected. Incumbents also have a chance to show supporters’ what they have sponsored or co-sponsored in the past. Reform is coming for North Carolina, and we refuse to be the last state to do so.

    For more info, please call 828-455-8203 or email commdirector@ncnorml.org. You can also follow North Carolina NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

  • by Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director May 11, 2018

    NORML Aspen Legal Seminar

    We’re just a few weeks away from NORML’s annual Aspen Legal Seminar at the beautiful Gant Hotel. We hope you’ll join us there to enjoy a taste of freedom and connect with professionals committed to establishing industry best practices that are consumer-friendly and promote social justice. Network with leading criminal defense and cannabusiness attorneys who’ll share expert advice in federal and state marijuana laws. Indulge in a delicious meal by critically acclaimed chef Chris Lanter of Cache Cache restaurant at the NORML Benefit Dinner hosted by Chris and Gerry Goldstein.

    RESERVE YOUR SPACE TODAY

    If you haven’t already, please take a moment to share the event with your networks.

    Link to share: https://norml.org/about/events/aspen-legal-seminar

    Sample language for attendees:

    Join me in Colorado for NORML’s Aspen Legal Seminar. Get expert advice from the best and the brightest in cannabis law while enjoying the sweet taste of freedom. Attorneys earn CLEs. You don’t want to miss this!

    General sample language:

    NORML’s Aspen Legal Seminar is just a few weeks away. Get expert advice from the best and the brightest in cannabis law while enjoying the sweet taste of freedom. Attorneys earn CLEs. You don’t want to miss this!

    NORML Aspen Legal Semnar

    If you can’t join us this year, please consider a tax-deductible donation to the NORML Foundation in support of NORML’s work reforming marijuana laws. Click here to make a contribution.

    As always, thank you for your continued support and dedication to NORML’s mission. Looking forward to seeing you in Aspen!

    GET YOUR TICKETS HERE

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate

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

    Let’s talk about Congress. Earlier this week, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) cosponsored the Marijuana Justice Act! Sen. Harris announced in a video message that she will be joining Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Ron Wyden in promoting this important legislation. This comes just a week and a half after California senior Senator Diane Feinstein (D) told reporters that she has dropped her opposition to ending the federal prohibition of marijuana. And U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says he is cosponsoring Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) hemp legalization bill.

    Additionally, in a historical first, a Congressional committee has advanced marijuana law reform legislation; one that would encourage the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct more studies on cannabis’ medical benefits.

    At the state level, Michigan Senate Republicans are expected to discuss whether to enact marijuana legalization instead of allowing the question to appear on the November ballot, with the fear that a ballot question would turn out hundreds of thousands of democratic voters. The New Jersey Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee will hold a Saturday hearing on marijuana legalization, and county prosecutors across Vermont are looking at ways to expunge prior marijuana convictions.

    Also, Connecticut’s legislative leaders said marijuana legalization is off the table for this session. As more state legislatures are adjourning for this year, more and more bills are dying, and therefore there are not as many legislative updates as we’ve been seeing earlier in the year.

    At a more local level, The Allentown, Pennsylvania City Council gave initial approval to a proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance, and also adopted a resolution calling on state lawmakers to end cannabis criminalization. The Milwaukee County, Wisconsin County Board’s Judiciary Committee voted in favor of placing a nonbinding marijuana legalization on the November ballot, and Denver, Colorado is planning to use marijuana tax revenue to fund public housing.

    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 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 Federal 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 e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    Louisiana

    House Bill 579 would expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis by permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, severe muscle spasms or glaucoma.

    Update: HB 579 was approved by the Senate 25-9 on 5/9. The bill now heads back to the House for review of Senate changes. A separate measure, HB 627, to permit patients with autism to be able to qualify for medical cannabis access, also passed the Senate and awaits reconsideration by the House.

    LA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

    California

    Assembly Bill 2069 seeks to strengthen employment rights for medical cannabis patients. The bill would explicitly bar employers from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

    Update: AB 2069 will be heard by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee on 5/16 at 9am in State Capitol, Room 4202.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment rights for patients

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    Arizona

    Senate Bill 1098 seeks to establish an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program.

    The program is designed to research the “growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp” by licensed providers. Lawmakers acknowledge that “developing and using industrial hemp can improve the economy and agricultural vitality” of Arizona.

    Update: SB 1098 passed the Senate on 2/15 and passed the House on 5/3. It now awaits action from Governor Ducey.

    AZ resident? Click here to email Gov. Ducey in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

    Illinois

    Senate Bill 2298 seeks to expand the state’s hemp law.

    The bill provides for the ability of individuals to cultivate hemp with a state license even if they are not part of the state’s Agriculture Department pilot program. That program only permits hemp cultivation as part of a state-sponsored research program.

    Update: SB 2298 was heard by the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee, and then approved by the committee on 5/8.

    IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp expansion

    California

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

    Update: SB 930 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/22.

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

    Taxes
    Assembly Bill 3157 seeks to temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis.

    Update: AB 3157 was heard by the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions on 5/8, and then approved by the committee on 5/9. The bill will be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 5/16.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of temporarily lowering taxes

    That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

  • by NORML May 8, 2018

    Police in the Pennsylvania cities of Allentown and Bethlehem continue to arrest hundreds of residents for less than 30 grams of cannabis while opiate and cocaine arrests seem to be going down.

    Last year Allentown put 315 people into handcuffs and the courts over marijuana possession, while the city reported just 31 other drug possession arrests during 2017, according to data from the Pa. Uniform Crime Reporting System.

    Bethlehem police also favor arresting cannabis consumers, between 130 and 160 per year are caught up in the criminal justice system over a few joints. Data from Bethlehem is also showing some odd trends, with zero opiate or cocaine arrests logged in 2016 or 2017.

    “Decriminalization would seem a simple and effective option anywhere,” said Lehigh Valley NORML Director Jeff Riedy, “When you consider the human cost to those convicted of arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

    A RAND Corp. study commissioned for Vermont found that each marijuana arrest is estimated to cost taxpayers $1,266 to perform. Prosecuting each person spends another $1,000 according to some estimates.

    That means Allentown and Bethlehem spent over $1 million last year treating otherwise law abiding cannabis consumers like criminals. Thankfully the city councils in both communities have introduced ordinances to address this expensive injustice.

    “The decrim ordinances, like that in Philadelphia, have helped to remove stigma, freed up the courts and allowed law enforcement to focus on more pressing issues. We should stop ruining lives over a joint,” said Riedy.

    Lehigh Valley NORML encourages members of the press and elected officials to review the marijuana possession arrest data included with this release.

    According to Pa. State Representative Michael Schlossberg (D., Lehigh), cosponsor of two statewide decriminalization bills in Harrisburg, “It’s time to put an end to senseless mass incarceration brought on by the prohibition of marijuana. I have added my name to legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana and bring commonsense back to our criminal justice system.  Pennsylvanian’s cannot afford to continue to follow the path of failed policies which hurt individuals and communities.”

    Allentown introduced their ordinance at Council last week, and it has been moved to a Committee of the Whole, scheduled for Tuesday, May 8 at 6pm in Council Chambers. If it passes the Committee with a majority vote, the ordinance will move to the full City Council for a vote next Wednesday, May 16 at 7pm. Public opinion is encouraged both dates.

    Allentown’s proposed ordinance: http://allentownpa.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=6212844&GUID=F77277E0-5440-436B-B430-9CAC4AFFB0BD

    For more info, please contact Jeff Riedy at 610-533-0906 or via email at lehighvnorml@gmail.com. You can also follow Lehigh Valley NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

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