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  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate July 13, 2018

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

    A lot has happened at the state level this week, starting with Maine lawmakers overriding Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) veto of medical cannabis expansion legislation, by a vote of 119 to 23 in the House and 25 to 8 in the Senate. The measure will now become law later this fall.

    North Dakota activists submitted what they believe are enough signatures (nearly 19,000!) to qualify a marijuana legalization measure for the November ballot. State officials must certify 13,452 signatures in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 ballot and are anticipated to take an estimated 35 days to verify proponents’ signatures.

    Directors at the Oklahoma Department of Health voted 5 to 4 to severely limit patients’ access to a wide range of cannabis products. Specifically, the new provisions: prohibit the sale of smokable herbal  cannabis at licensed dispensaries; require dispensaries to have a licensed pharmacist on staff; impose arbitrary THC potency thresholds on various cannabis-infused products; and mandate that dispensary managers obtain at least four hours of continuing education training each calendar year. Qualified patients will still be permitted to grow their own medical marijuana flowers.

    Oklahoma lawmakers formed a bipartisan working group to focus on seeing that medical cannabis is implemented in a way that “conforms to the will of the voters.” House Democrats are calling for a special legislative session to address the issue.

    Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signed legislation into law permitting out-of-state patients to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. The measure also permits licensed dispensaries to sell cartridges to patients containing cannabis extracts and oils. The law took effect upon passage. However, Gov. Ige vetoed legislation to allow medical cannabis as a substitute for opioids, and for substance use and withdrawal symptoms, stating that the responsibility of adding new qualifying conditions should be left up to the Health Department, not lawmakers.

    Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed a bill into law allowing those with past marijuana convictions to have their records expunged for crimes that were subsequently decriminalized, such as marijuana possession. Those with past convictions for crimes involving the possession of less than one ounce of cannabis can now petition the court to seek an order of expungement.

    And Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation into law to facilitate state-sponsored medical cannabis research.

    At a more local level, The Dane County, Wisconsin Board voted to place a marijuana legalization advisory question on the November ballot, a La Crosse County, Wisconsin Board committee advanced a marijuana legalization advisory measure for the November ballot, and unfortunately the Walworth County, Wisconsin Board killed a marijuana legalization advisory measure proposed for November’s ballot. But activists in Nelsonville, Ohio did turn in signatures to qualify a marijuana decriminalization measure 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

    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. State officials estimate the legislation could affect up to 1,300 people convicted of a single marijuana crime from 1977 to 2015.

    Update: SB 197 was sent to to Gov. John Carney’s desk. Legal advisers to the Governor are reviewing the bill, but he is expected to sign it into law.

    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

    That’s all the legislative updates for this week!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director July 12, 2018

    In advance of NORML’s 2018 Conference and Lobby day that’s taking place July 22nd – 24th in Washington, DC, NORML chapters from around the country will be contacting their representatives to urge their support for marijuana-related bills introduced since the 115th Congress convened on January 3, 2017. For more than four decades, NORML Affiliates and Chapters have demonstrated their ability to mobilize thousands of marijuana advocates from around the country so we hope to create some additional excitement around pending marijuana law reform legislation, and in return, drive participation and engagement.

    We hope all of you will join us in making this a successful campaign!

    Project: NORML 2018 Congressional Letter Writing Campaign

    Who: NORML Chapters and Affiliates

    When: Thursday, July 12, 2018 through Wednesday, July 25, 2018

    Summary: Grassroots letter writing campaign targeting members of the House and Senate requesting their immediate support of pending marijuana-related legislation. We encourage the use of handwritten letters and emails.

    Target Legislation:

    S.1689 / H.R. 4815: The Marijuana Justice Act

    H.R. 1820: The Veterans Equal Access Act

    Why Letters?

    Legislators often tell us that the most effective method of communicating our position on issues is through letters. Letters can be mailed or easily faxed. Phone calls are necessary and helpful, but letters from constituents make the most difference. E-mails are also a great tool, but sometimes it may be difficult to verify that the sender is a constituent. Also, they normally will respond back to the letter sender.

    Must Be A Constituent!

    Know who you’re writing! Legislators disregard any letters not from their constituents, and their staff actually check names and addresses to ensure legitimacy. If you use our online tool or email, make sure to include your address and/or a sentence stating, “I live in your district” or “I am your constituent” to ensure that your letter/email is read.

    Sample Letters: If you decide to use the templates below, please make sure you research the name and address of your representatives. With 535 members of Congress, offices are spread across Capitol Hill in six different Senate and House office buildings.

    To find the correct address, simply type in your zip code and the “Find Your Representative” page will direct you a page with all the details to who your Congress member is and where there office is located. In regard to Senators, each state is represented by two United States Senators, so after you click the link, “Find Your Senator”, you will be directed to a page with a list of US Senators. Here, unlike using your zip code, you can simply select your state utilizing the drop down menu in the upper left hand corner of the website and it will display the names and addresses to your Senators.

    Letter Templates:

    S.1689: The Marijuana Justice Act

    H.R. 4815: The Marijuana Justice Act

    H.R. 1820: The Veterans Equal Access Act

    Social Media Templates: Please use the following templates to help promote our efforts via Facebook and Twitter. Simply cut and paste the information located within the text boxes below into your social media accounts. Also feel free to tag your representatives in your social media posts.

    Marijuana Justice Act – Facebook:

    Click below to support the Marijuana Justice Act!

    If passed by Congress, the Marijuana Justice Act will remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities, expunge federal convictions for marijuana possession, allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing, and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

    The ongoing enforcement of marijuana prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.

    http://norml.org/action-center/item/support-the-marijuana-justice-act

    Marijuana Justice Act – Twitter:

    Federal: Urge your members of #Congress to support the #Marijuana Justice Act today! Click below to get started. https://bit.ly/2L5DZfm

    Veterans Equal Access Act – Facebook:

    Click below to support the Veterans Equal Access Act!

    If passed by Congress, the Veterans Equal Access Act will expand access to medical cannabis for eligible military veterans. Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of H.R. 1820 will lift this prohibition.

    Lawmakers must stop playing politics with veterans’ health and pass the Veterans Equal Access Act!

    http://norml.org/action-center/item/federal-house-bill-introduced-to-expand-veterans-access-to-medical-marijuana

    Veterans Equal Access Act – Twitter:

    Federal: Our Veterans deserve better! Contact your lawmakers and urge them to support the #Veterans Equal Access Act today. https://t.co/LPuM3aqTct

    Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please email chapters@norml.org for more information about starting a NORML chapter today!

  • 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.

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