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ACTIVISM

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director September 26, 2018

    Following the lead of municipalities around the state, the City Council of Kingsland, Georgia, voted to approve a new ordinance to ease penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

    “I’m glad to see the Kingsland City Council unanimously approve this ordinance. They join Clarkston, Atlanta, Savannah, Forest Park, South Fulton and Fulton County in enacting sensible marijuana ordinances here in Georgia,” said Tom McCain, executive director of Peachtree NORML.  

    Citing concerns of racial profiling and the effects of the black market regarding teen access and use, Councilman Mike McClain was one of the most vocal proponents during Monday’s meeting to discuss the proposal.

    “There is a definite amount of racial profiling with the outdated law. We need to be on the right side of history, and I want to do the right thing,” said Mclain. “We are a small town, but we are not afraid of change when it goes to correctly police our community.”

    Read more here: https://www.allongeorgia.com/camden-local-news/kingsland-city-council-passes-relaxed-marijuana-rule/

    As state lawmakers around the country continue to drag their feet on marijuana law reforms, municipalities are taking matters into their own hands. As a result, more than 50 localities in a dozen states have adopted municipal ordinances to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    “While they cannot change Georgia Law, they can indeed lower penalties for simple possession, and in doing so, send a message to the General Assembly that it needs to follow suit at the state-level,” added McCain.

    Click Here to Review NORML’s Decriminalization Report

    To learn more about marijuana law reforms in Georgia, follow Peachtree NORML on Facebook, and Twitter or check out their website!

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

  • by NORML September 25, 2018

    Happy National Voter Registration Day!

    It’s critically important that we make sure all reform supporters are registered and turnout to vote for pro-cannabis candidates this year for the “Marijuana Midterms.”

    With just six weeks until Election Day, NORML is proud to roll out the following educational tools for you to take with you to the ballot booth.

    Smoke the Vote: NORML has graded every incumbent and major candidate for federal office throughout the country – making it easy for you to get the facts.

    NORML chapters around the country have recorded many of the positions of candidates for state-level offices. This scorecard is meant to be a living document, and with over 10,000 legislators at the state and federal level across the nation, we NEED your help to keep it up to date. If you see that we’re missing a candidate’s position or a great quote from them regarding marijuana policy, send it our way.

    NORML Election Central: Learn about the various ballot initiatives around the country and see all of the NORML PAC endorsed candidates.

    NORML Voter Registration Tool: NORML has partnered with Rock the Vote making it easy and fast for you and your friends to register to vote!

    We need more voices supporting reform in the political process. If our supporters are not registered and voting, lawmakers will not hear the need for legislative action. Make sure your friends, family, and neighbors are registered to #SmokeTheVote and make 2018 the Marijuana Midterms!

    Share our Voter Registration Tool on Facebook

    Share our Voter Registration Tool on Twitter

    Below are a few more resources that should come in handy over the next couple of months.

    Resources and Tools for Voter Registration:

    Stay informed – Rock The Vote offers voter registration resources, election FAQs, and opportunities to help build the political power of young people in the United States.Voter Registration Deadline – Use U.S. Vote Foundation to find your state’s deadline.

    Long Distance Voter – Is a website where you can request an absentee ballot.

    Verify your Registration Status – Vote.org offers an online tool to check the status of your voter registration.

    Polling Place – Check out Rock the Vote to find a polling location near you.

    Additional Resources:

    Election Laws: https://bit.ly/2MdVn1s

    State Information: https://bit.ly/2xb1SPW

    Voting Rights: https://bit.ly/2NrVM57

  • by NORML September 24, 2018

    Are you ready to legalize marijuana? Registering to vote is the first step. Tomorrow is National Voter Registration Day, and you can help NORML make sure everyone knows voting is an essential part of the fight to end the prohibition. It is crucial that supporters of reform register to vote in time to cast their ballots in the November 6th election.

    Are you registered to vote? Check the status of your voter registration here.

    Ready to register to vote? You can do so by clicking here.

    We need more voices supporting reform in the political process. If our supporters are not registered and voting, lawmakers are will not hear the need for legislative action. Make sure your friends, family, and neighbors are registered to vote.

    Share our Voter Registration Tool on Facebook

    Share our Voter Registration Tool on Twitter

    As the old adage goes, elections are decided by those who show up. The 2018 midterm elections will be decisive for marijuana reform. NORML is working to bring as many supporters of responsible marijuana policy to the polls as possible. Will our communities voice be heard on November 6?

    Let’s finish what we started. Let’s legalize it.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate September 21, 2018

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

    This week, reports circulated that  the US Customs and Border Protection Agency will enforce a federal policy denying entry into the United States any individual involved in Canada’s burgeoning marijuana market. Under the policy, US officials are to bar entry to Canadians who acknowledge having consumed marijuana at any time in their past, as well as those who are either employed or invested in legal cannabis enterprises. NORML responded here.

    The U.S. Senate’s VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018 got one more cosponsor, for a total of five. And The U.S. House’s Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act got two new cosponsors, for a total of three.

    At the state level, the New Jersey Department of Health removed the ban that prohibited licensed medical cannabis dispensaries from selling concentrates to patients. Separately, details arose about New Jersey’s soon-to-be-filed marijuana legalization bill, which includes what would be the lowest tax rate in the country, home delivery, social consumption sites, and provisions benefiting small and minority owned businesses, but nothing about home cultivation. Nothing is final yet.

    Several New York Assembly committees have scheduled the first of what will be four joint hearings this fall on the prospect of legalizing marijuana in the Empire State. This comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is holding a series of separate listening sessions across the state to gather public input on cannabis legalization.

    Mississippi activists kicked off their signature gathering effort for a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative. Massachusetts recreational marijuana stores are unlikely to open until late October at the earliest after regulators failed to issue any final licenses at its Thursday meeting. Kentucky lawmakers held an interim hearing on medical cannabis, and the West Virginia Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health met to discuss banking access issues for medical cannabis businesses.

    Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres (R) signed a marijuana legalization bill into law, making the territory the first place in the U.S. to end prohibition without first having a medical cannabis program.

    California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed two bills into law this week,  one preventing marijuana businesses from sharing consumers’ information for commercial purposes, and another clarifying that marijuana distributors can transport products to other distributors and that labs can test home-grown cannabis. Brown also vetoed a bill that would have allowed marijuana businesses to deduct business expenses under the state’s personal income tax law.

    At a more local level, the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma City Council adopted ordinances regulating medical cannabis businesses.

    Following are the bills we’ve tracked this week pending before California Governor Jerry Brown, 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

    Decriminalize Cannabis: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is sponsoring 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 email your senators in support of this important legislation

    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. The bill was approved by the Senate last week.

    Update: AB 1793 awaits action from Governor Brown.

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

    Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on school grounds to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.

    Update: After failing to gain enough votes for passage in the Assembly on 8/23, a motion to reconsider was granted and on 8/27, SB 1127 was approved by the Assembly with a 42-29 vote. The bill now awaits action from Governor Brown.

    CA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of allowing students’ medical marijuana at school

    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: SB 829 was approved by the full Assembly with a 65-2 vote on 8/29. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence since it was amended in the Assembly. SB 829 is being heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Friday 8/31, and then will go to the Senate floor for a vote.

    CA resident? Email your senators in support of supporting compassionate care programs

    That’s all for this week!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director September 20, 2018

    With a state legislative session spanning almost an entire calendar year, supporters of marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania are working overtime to make sure their voices are heard. That’s why members of Lehigh Valley NORML, Pittsburgh NORML, Lancaster NORML and Philly NORML are teaming up with the Keystone Cannabis Coalition and ACLU of Pennsylvania for rally and lobby day next week in the state’s capital of Harrisburg.

    Click Here to RSVP Today!

    “Marijuana activists in Pennsylvania are poised to introduce an aggressive agenda for reform in 2019 when they fill the Capitol Rotunda at 10am on Monday, September 24,” said Jeff Riedy, Executive Director of Lehigh Valley NORML. “With cannabis arrest counts rising across the state and neighboring states threatening legalization, the time is right for this discussion in Pennsylvania.”

    But activists in the Keystone State have come a very long way in just a short amount of time.

    Local Victories

    In late 2014 Philadelphia’s city council decriminalized simple possession of marijuana. Little did they know, their decision would trigger a wave of municipalities across the Commonwealth to adopt similar measures. In the years following, local lawmakers in Pittsburgh, State College, Harrisburg, York, Erie, and most recently, Bethlehem followed suit.

    These local victories were celebrated not just by advocates, but also the Commonwealth’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who shared the following statement:

    “Decriminalization saves millions of dollars spent yearly on marijuana prosecutions. Decriminalization also has human benefits by reducing the loss of income and other social, personal and emotional impacts on those arrested for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana.”

    Full statement here: https://bit.ly/2NvfopR

    Statewide Victories

    Following the flurry of local marijuana law reform victories across the Commonwealth, lawmakers in Harrisburg passed SB 3: The Medical Marijuana Act in 2015 which was later signed into law by Governor Wolf in early 2016. Passage of the law established rules and regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program which permits registered patients to access cannabis oils, pills and tinctures, but due to a restriction against smoking, the availability of marijuana flower was delayed.

    After months of pressure from patients and advocacy groups, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana advisory board recommended several updates to the state’s program. One of which, was allowing the sale of marijuana flower. The catch? It must be consumed using a vaporizer. This means no smoking. Regardless of a few hiccups, dispensaries began serving patients earlier this year.

    Looking ahead, advocates are hoping to educate state lawmakers about the benefits of ending the criminalization and harassment of honest, hardworking Pennsylvanians for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana.

    “New legislation will be introduced at the rally, as 2019 will mark the first time that PA will have partner bills for decriminalization and legalization in both House and Senate. If Pennsylvanians could vote on cannabis legalization in November, I am confident that we would win,” added Riedy.

    Midterm Election

    Considering Pennsylvania is one of several states that lacks a ballot initiative process, all marijuana law reform efforts must be pursued through the state legislature. This means, in order to be successful, advocates must educate those who are willing to listen or elect new, more supportive lawmakers to represent them in Harrisburg. So make no mistake, the outcome of this November’s election will certainly have an impact on the future of marijuana in the Keystone State.  

    Register To Vote Today!

    That’s why we’re encouraging voters in Pennsylvania to support Jon Fetterman, an outspoken supporter of legalizing marijuana, who is running for Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Fetterman was the very first candidate endorsed by NORML PAC for the 2018 midterm elections.

    Read more about our endorsement here: https://bit.ly/2OMBjoM

    For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania, follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Twitter and Facebook!

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