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ACTIVISM

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate July 6, 2018

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

    At the state level, Vermont’s law legalizing marijuana possession and home cultivation took effect on July 1, and so did Georgia’s law allowing low-THC medical cannabis preparations for PTSD and intractable pain. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said that although marijuana legalization didn’t make it into the state’s budget deal, there is agreement from lawmakers to get it done “sooner rather than later.” The Senate president said that legislators are “committed” to passing marijuana legalization this summer.

    At a more local level, the Rock County, Wisconsin Board voted to place a marijuana legalization advisory question on the November ballot. The Forest Park, Georgia City Council voted 3-2 for decriminalization and a Savannah, Georgia law allowing police to avoid low-level marijuana arrests took effect on Sunday.

    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, 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: The House Judiciary & Government Operations Committee recommended the passage of SB 20-62 on 7/2.

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

    Delaware

    Senate Bill 197 seeks to permit those convicted of past marijuana possession convictions to seek expungement.

    The measure would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting the expungement of any past marijuana possession violations that are no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill was already passed by the Senate last month.

    Update: on 7/2, SB 197 was unanimously approved by the House. The bill now awaits action from Governor John Carney (D).

    DE resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of expungement

    California

    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

    Senate Bill 829 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

    Update: On 7/2, SB 829 was approved by the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation by a vote of 8-1, and was re-referred to the Committee on Appropriations.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of helping needy patients

    Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on campus to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms.

    Update: SB 1127 was heard by the Judiciary Committee on 7/3, and then approved by the Committee by a 7-3 vote.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanded access to medical cannabis in schools

    That’s all the legislative updates for this week!

  • by NORML July 4, 2018

    How are you celebrating freedom this Fourth of July? Having a cookout with neighbors? Watching fireworks with your family? Lighting up with friends?

    For millions of Americans who consume cannabis, that freedom may be fleeting. In many states, Americans are still threatened with arrest, criminal prosecution, and jail time for marijuana possession. First-time offenders in states like Arizona and Florida may even face felony charges for small possession charges. In Oklahoma, growing even a single plant is punishable by up to life in prison.

    At NORML we understand that this harsh reality is probably not something that you think about every single day, let alone on a holiday. But, we do, and it’s why we’re working hard to empower NORML’s national network of engaged citizens — citizens like you — to change America’s outdated and overly punitive marijuana laws. And, because of good folks like you, we are winning!

    Will you join us in DC later this month for our Lobby Day to urge Congress to reform our nation’s marijuana laws?

    Can’t make it? Get your official membership card and help fund NORML’s critical work

    It is the highest ideal of American democracy that our nation has a well-informed and politically engaged electorate. That is why every week through our blog, social networks, and newsletter, NORML arms our supporters with the latest science, news, legislative and legal developments pertaining to cannabis and cannabis policy. Via the NORML Action Center, we keep you up to date on and engaged in all state and federal legislative efforts to end marijuana prohibition and restore our freedoms. Thanks to the 200,000+ of you who have taken action over the past few months!

    Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we come together and assert our authority over our elected officials. The Declaration of Independence explicitly states: That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

    In sum, it is our responsibility to compel our elected officials to institute change.

    So join us in DC later this month or get your membership card now and fuel the movement.

    Our system of government is not perfect. In fact, it is far from it. But for hundreds of years, citizens have organized and struggled to come closer to Thomas Jefferson’s iconic aspiration, “That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Thomas Jefferson legally grew cannabis. You should be able to as well.

    Happy Fourth of July,
    The NORML Team

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director July 3, 2018

    Can you smell it? It’s the smell of victory!

    At a time when news comes fast and furious, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of it all. So we’d like to take a moment to remind you of some of the amazing events that have transpired over just the past month.

    June 16: The Texas GOP added marijuana decriminalization and medical cannabis planks to their party’s platform.

    June 19: A new nationwide poll reported that 68 percent of US voters back legalizing marijuana — the highest percentage of support ever recorded!

    June 20: Canada became the second country in the world to formally approve adult marijuana use, production, and sales, and announced October 17, 2018 as the effective legalization date.

    June 23: The Texas Democratic party added marijuana legalization as a plank to their party’s platform.

    June 25: The FDA approved the first-ever plant-based marijuana medicine for the treatment of intractable pediatric epilepsy.

    June 26: Oklahoma became the 31st state to legalize medical cannabis access, passing one of the most patient-centric medical marijuana programs ever.

    June 27: The Senate’s leading Democrat introduced landmark legislation to deschedule cannabis and expunge past convictions.

    Yes, indeed, we ARE winning — and with your continued support we are not going to get “tired of winning” any time soon.

    When NORML was founded in 1970, the deck was stacked against us and only 12% of Americans supported reform. Now, the dominos are falling in our favor, one by one — one city and one state at a time. That is because good folks like you are stepping up, speaking out, and demanding to be heard. Together, we are effectively pushing statewide reforms through ballot boxes and legislatures from coast to coast and nearly every state in between. Thank you for pledging your support for the end of federal prohibition by continuing to be an active part of NORML and the marijuana law reform movement.

    Are you tired of winning? I didn’t think so. Help us achieve even more important victories in the weeks and months ahead.

    Chip in $25, $50 or $100 to keep NORML going strong or make a monthly pledge to marijuana reform now.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director July 1, 2018

    Everyday NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Here’s a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

    Arizona NORML Works to Reform Concentrate Law

    “Cannabis will prevail,” said Mikel Weisser, director of Arizona NORML. “I cannot see us losing—it doesn’t seem like a logical conclusion.”

    Read Tucson Weekly’s Concentrate Commotion: Arizona Appeals Court Deems Marijuana Extracts Illegal Under State Law

    Follow Arizona NORML on Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Chicago NORML Activists Push for Equity in the Pot Business

    Chicago NORML Founder and Executive Director Donte Townsend: “You gotta think about how many people are doing time right now for cannabis convictions,” he said. “And there’s businesses operating as they were, they just didn’t have the money to pay for it. Now some are in jail, and some are getting rich.”

    Read more from the Chicago Sun Times!

    Follow Chicago NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Indiana NORML Advocates for Medical Cannabis Legislation

    “Things are evolving very quickly. The legislators, even the ones who are against it, know that they’re going to have to come around in the near future if they want to stay in office,” said David Phipps, a self-described “Hoosier advocate,” and member of Indiana NORML, a group pushing for medical marijuana legalization.

    Read WIBC’s two-part interview: Medical Marijuana in Indiana: The Change in 2018 and The Summer of Medical Cannabis in Indiana?

    Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Lehigh Valley NORML Wins in Bethlehem and Allentown

    In Pennsylvania, the City Council of Bethlehem approved a marijuana decriminalization ordinance, while Mayor Ray O’Connell of Allentown signed a marijuana decriminalization ordinance into law.

    Read more on the NORML Blog!

    Follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter today!

    Oklahoma NORML Instrumental in Passage of Medical Marijuana Initiative

    “We’re going to unbuckle the Bible belt,” Norma Sapp, state director of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, shouted to supporters of State Question 788, the medical marijuana issue that will be on the June 26 primary election ballot.

    Read more from NewsOK!

    Follow Oklahoma NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Texas NORML Pushes for Marijuana Planks GOP Platform

    In Texas, the state’s Republican Party approved four new planks to the party’s platform: endorsing marijuana decriminalization, expanded medical cannabis access, industrial hemp and federal rescheduling.

    Read more on the NORML Blog!

    Follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    NORML Leaders in the Media

    Scott Weldon, Executive Director, Lowcountry NORML

    “As someone who has been working on this issue for several years now, I can assure you that state lawmakers want to know where their constituents stand with regard to supporting marijuana law reforms before they will have the confidence to take action. I’m certain the results from [Tuesday’s] election will be the catalyst for future conversation about this issue.”

    Read more from the Charleston City Paper!

    Follow Lowcountry NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Justin See, Board of Directors, Indiana NORML

    “Given the exceptional limitations that researchers in the U.S. face when considering the prospect of conducting clinical trials using botanical cannabis, Governor Holcomb should take the lead from 29 states and the District of Columbia and become an advocate for allowing legal access for medical purposes.”

    Read more from Indy Politics!

    Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jeff Reidy, Executive DIrector, Lehigh Valley NORML

    “Public opinion and the power of the vote can persuade even the most stubborn of politicians. Our courts, city councils, DAs, and legislators are elected by the people, to work for the people. We should repeatedly remind them of their duties, especially when they stubbornly refuse.”

    Read more from Lehigh Valley Live!

    Follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “While the rest of the country is drastically decreasing their marijuana enforcement either because of decriminalization efforts at municipal or state levels or because of regulating use at the state level, Virginia is moving in the opposite direction,” Pedini said. “And that is not at all in context with what the overwhelming majority of Virginians want.”

    Read more from RVA Magazine!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please reach out to chapters@norml.org for help starting your own! For over 45 years NORML chapters have been leading marijuana law reform conversations and continue to be the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level.

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your homTake Actionetown? Click here to find out how!

  • by Madisen Saglibene, Executive Director of Las Vegas NORML June 30, 2018

    Despite recreational marijuana use being legal in Nevada, the 42 million annual visitors don’t have any options for a place to consume. State law doesnt allow public consumption, and casinos and hotels have banned cannabis on their properties. In fact, claims have been made that Las Vegas security personnel have been very forceful and militant regarding public consumption despite confusion on behalf of the tourists.

    I thanked the City Attorney’s office on Wednesday for their leadership on the proposed social use venue ordinance. “Though the majority of intentions throughout this process today are revenue seeking, NORML views it as a form of social justice, and for this we thank you.”

    The ordinance would allow the City of Las Vegas to issue Business Licenses specifically known as “Social Use Venues”, which would allow people to bring in their own cannabis to consume. This ordinance would also allow patrons to purchase alcoholic beverages of up to 11%, but the space needs to be fully enclosed and utilize strict air filtration regulation, making it so no special event permits can be given. Las Vegas is, however, one of the few U.S. cities to allow cigarette smoking indoors still to this day.

    With a team of 7 in bright green, Nevada NORML advocated that cannabis consumers should not be forced behind enclosures, nor should they be subjected to a 24 hour live stream of their activities fed directly to law enforcement. Though the city was quick to respond that this was a safety measure that would only be utilized in certain circumstances, Saglibene told them a warrant should need to be obtained for the footage.

    City Attorney, Bryan Scott made it clear the proposed ordinance is only the first draft and will undergo many changes before it is approved. Skeptics say that the inclusion of alcohol will be a hard sell to voters on the committee.

    NORML volunteer Madison Rodgers inquired about how proposed federal legislation could impact this ordinance if passed, “Are you familiar with the STATES act?” The answer from all parties holding the meeting, was no.

    Last year, Las Vegas NORML made several attempts to ask the City of Las Vegas and the Convention & Visitors Authority to put information on their website to educate visitors on the laws to create less confusion, and ultimately arrests. After all, we can’t rely on dispensaries to tell the customers that there is nowhere for them to consume that product legally. The requests from both agencies were ignored, and almost a year after the program has gone into effect, there is still no public information available to our tourists through those channels. Public consumption in Las Vegas is punishable by $600 and could still result in being arrested. Though local law enforcement has been instructed to only issue citations in most situations, there have been more arrests for public consumption made already this year compared to last.For more information, please follow Las Vegas & Nevada NORML on Facebook & Instagram.

    Click on the image above to watch the live stream! NORML begins at about 55 minutes.

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