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  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate February 16, 2018

    Welcome to this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    First, I’d like to highlight a key development at the federal level pertaining to established marijuana businesses and consumers.

    Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) has introduced the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act which would basically codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo. Essentially, the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act would give peace of mind to lawmakers, regulators, 149,000 workers, and the millions of patients and consumers who are dependent on the normalization of lawful marijuana markets. The most essential component in creating a stable business environment to meet consumer demand is certainty and that is what states would have with Rep. Correa’s legislation to protect state-lawful programs from militant marijuana prohibitionist Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Click here to send a message to your Representative in support of the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act. 

    Also, earlier this week, bestselling guidebook author and travel host Rick Steves held two briefings on Capitol Hill to address marijuana prohibition to a gathering of members of Congress and their staff. Steves serves as a member of the board of NORML and has advocated extensively in support of the successful legalization efforts in Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and his home state of Washington.

    At the state level, the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee voted unanimously to pass HB 1251, to expand the state’s medical CBD law, amended to include a new emergency enactment clause requested by Governor Ralph Northam, and will now go into effect immediately upon his signature. Enactment of this historic legislation would make Virginia the first state with a hyper-restrictive program to adopt such a broad expansion.

    Also, Pennsylvania medical cannabis sales began on Thursday as the state’s first dispensary opened its doors.

    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

    Connecticut

    Democratic Representative James Albis, along with over 20 co-sponsors, has introduced legislation — HB 5112 and HB 5111 — to regulate and tax the retail sale of marijuana to adults.

    The tax revenue raised by commercial retail sales would be used to fund substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs.

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

    West Virginia

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 3035, to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana.

    The bill states that “In the interest of allowing law-enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes, generating revenue for education and other public purposes, and individual freedom, the Legislature of the State of West Virginia finds that the use of marijuana should be legal for a person twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.”

    Update: Similar legislation has also been introduced to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana, House Bill 4491.

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

    New Mexico

    Legislation is pending, HM 67 and SM 55, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

    Update: HM 67 was approved unanimously by the House, and SM 55 was approved by the Senate with a 36-1 vote.

    NM resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

    Arizona

    Legislation is pending, HCR2037, to put the issue of legalizing the adult use of marijuana before voters this November.

    The resolution seeks to place a question on the 2018 ballot regarding the adult use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis.

    AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to leave it up to the voters

    Maryland

    Legislation is pending, HB 268 and SB 181, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    Update: A hearing was held on February 15 on SB 181.

    MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

    Hawaii

    Legislation is pending, HB 1893, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    Update: HB 1893 was heard by the Health and Human Services Committee on February 15.

    HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

    Additional Actions to Take

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, HB 1477, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement.

    If passed, HB 1477 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana.

    Update: HB 1477 was approved by The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee by a vote of 14-4.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past marijuana convictions

    Colorado

    Newly proposed legislation, The Marijuana Consumer Employment Discrimination Protection Bill, seeks to protect medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

    This bill would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test. It would also require employers to provide objective evidence that an employee is unable to perform their job adequately because of marijuana use prior to taking any punitive action.

    CO resident?  Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment protections for patients

    Alaska

    Senator Tom Begich has introduced legislation, SB 184, to seal the convictions of past marijuana possession offenders.

    Senate Bill 184 prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill’s intent is to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal under today’s laws, and to make it more likely that people convicted of only low-level crimes will become contributing members of society.

    AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of sealing past marijuana convictions

    Maryland

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 698 to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program.

    The bill seeks to “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.”

    Update: A hearing was held for HB 698 on February 14.

    MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the industrial hemp program

    Utah

    Legislation is pending, HB 197, “to ensure the cultivation and processing of cannabis in the state for academic or medical research purposes.”

    If passed, this bill mandates the Department of Agriculture to engage in the cultivation, processing, and distribution of marijuana for the purposes of engaging in academic or medical research.

    Update: HB197 was passed by the House by a vote of 38-32 on February 13, after it died on a narrow vote last week and was resurrected on Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

    UT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

    Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate February 9, 2018

    Welcome to this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    First, I’d like to highlight a key development at the federal level pertaining to established medical marijuana businesses and consumers.

    The protections for lawful medical marijuana patients and businesses from the Department of Justice provided by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer budget amendment was temporarily extended through March 23rd and we are working to ensure that it will be a part of any budget deal for the rest of the fiscal year. In the last week alone, NORML members sent thousands of messages to members of Congress and we plan to keep the pressure up. If you have not already, send a letter to your elected officials in support of extending these important protections.

    At the state level, New Jersey lawmakers are set to begin holding hearings on marijuana legalization next month, with the first one scheduled for March 5th, and activists in Maryland lobbied state lawmakers in the capital to support legislation that would put legalization on this year’s November ballot.

    Additionally, at the state level, an Indiana medical marijuana bill is dead for this session.

    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

    West Virginia

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 3035, to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana.

    The bill states that  “In the interest of allowing law-enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes, generating revenue for education and other public purposes, and individual freedom, the Legislature of the State of West Virginia finds that the use of marijuana should be legal for a person twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.”

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

    New Jersey

    Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 1557 to legalize adult use marijuana possession and to provide for record expungement for certain past marijuana offenses.

    The bill would legalize marijuana by removing all criminal liability associated with marijuana from the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. With respect to criminal or disorderly persons offense convictions pre-dating marijuana legalization that relate to marijuana possession, use or being under the influence of marijuana, or failure to make lawful disposition of marijuana, these convictions would be expunged in an expedited process.

    Unlike Assembly Bill 1348 and Senate Bill 830, this measure does not establish a regulated commercial market governing the production and retail sale of marijuana.

     

    New Hampshire

    The New Hampshire Legislature is considering HB 656, a bill which would legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years or older.

    The bill also allows the cultivation, possession, and use of hemp, and calls for retail sales and generation of state revenues through taxation, as well as authorizes the licensing of marijuana wholesale, retail, cultivation, and testing facilities.

    Update: a public hearing is happening on 2/13 at 10:00AM in Legislative Office Building 210-211.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalizing marijuana

    Nebraska

    Senator Wishart has introduced a constitutional amendment, LR293CA, to put this issue of medical marijuana legalization to a direct vote on this year’s November ballot.

    Update: LR293CA was heard by the Judiciary Committee on 2/8/18.

    NE resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters decide

    Arizona

    Representative Mark Cardenas (D) has introduced legislation, House Bill 2014, to decriminalize marijuana possession offenses.

    House Bill 2014 reclassifies minor marijuana possession offenses from a felony to a civil offense, punishable by a maximum $100 fine only — no arrest, no criminal prosecution, and no criminal record.

    AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization

    Tennessee

    Senator Sara Kyle and Representative Larry Miller have introduced legislation SB 2320 and HB 2391, seeking to place a ballot initiative before voters with regard to the legalization of medical marijuana.

    If passed, these bills would place the following advisory question on the November 2018 ballot:

    Should the Tennessee legislature approve the use of medical marijuana?

    TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of a ballot question

    Alabama

    Republican State Senator Dick Brewbaker has introduced Senate Bill 251, which seeks to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. By contrast, the measure also enhances penalties for offenses involving the possession of marijuana over one ounce.

    Senate Bill 251 reduces penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,000 fine, to a non-criminal violation and punishable by a fine of no more than $250 — no arrest and no criminal record.

    However, provisions in the bill also reclassify offenses involving quantities of marijuana above one ounce as felonies.

    AL resident? Click here to email your elected officials  and urge them to amend SB 251 in a manner that benefits all marijuana possession offenders

    South Carolina

    Legislation is pending, H 3521: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions.

    If passed, the bill would provide patients with regulated access to medical cannabis via licensed providers.

    SC resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

    Idaho

    Legislation is pending to provide “for the lawful use and possession of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD), if prescribed by a (licensed) practitioner.”

    Similar legislation seeking to provide qualified patients with CBD access was vetoed by Gov. Otter in 2015.

    Update: The bill, RS25862, was approved for consideration by the Idaho House Health & Welfare Committee.

    ID resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

    Additional Actions to Take

    Vermont

    Legislation is pending, H.865, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement.

    If passed, H.865 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting expungement for any past marijuana violation that is no longer defined as a crime under state law.

    VT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past marijuana convictions

     California

    Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) has introduced legislation, AB 2069, 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.

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

    Kansas

    Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program.

    Federal law explicitly authorizes states to engage in the state-authorized cultivation of hemp for research purposes. Over two dozen states have enacted legislation permitting licensed hemp cultivation in a manner that is compliant with federal law.

    KS resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp research

    Illinois

    Legislation is pending, SB 336, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

    Update: SB 336 passed the Senate Executive Committee on February 7 by a vote of 16-1.

    IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to put opioid dependence on the list of qualifying conditions

    Alaska

    Legislation is pending, HB 300, to make Alaska a so-called ‘sanctuary state’ for licensed marijuana operators, prohibiting “the expenditure of state or municipal assets to enforce federal marijuana laws.”

    With US Attorney General Jeff Sessions having recently rescinded federal guidance memos protecting state-licensed, marijuana-related activity, passage of this legislation is more crucial than ever.

    AK resident? Click here to tell your elected officials to make Alaska a sanctuary state

    Hawaii

    Democratic State Representative John Mizuno has introduced legislation, HB 2740, to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii.

    Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status.

    HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity.

    Utah

    Republican Brad Draw has introduced legislation, HB 197, “to ensure the cultivation and processing of cannabis in the state for academic or medical research purposes.”

    If passed, this bill mandates the Department of Agriculture to engage in the cultivation, processing, and distribution of marijuana for the purposes of engaging in academic or medical research.

    UT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana research

    Check back next week for more legislative updates!

  • by Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director February 8, 2018

    Virginia NORML has been focused on securing access and protection from prosecution for all patients since 2016. This session, our efforts paid off with unanimous passage of our Let Doctors Decide legislation, supported by the Joint Commission on Healthcare, in both the House and Senate.

    Patients like Nikki Narduzzi, who is now our coalition director at Cannabis Commonwealth, will now have the same rights that were initially granted in 2015 to only intractable epilepsy patients. I have spent hundreds of hours with Nikki in the halls of the General Assembly, in Committee rooms, in district offices, in coffee shops talking to Virginia legislators about this groundbreaking expansion legislation.

    “Little did I know, in 2015 when I attended my first local Virginia NORML chapter meeting, that patient advocacy would become such a large part of my life,” said Nikki. “For the past three years, I have been supported and mentored by courageous advocates like Virginia NORML’s Executive Director, Jenn Michelle Pedini who has worked tirelessly in the trenches to bring medical cannabis access to ALL Virginia patients.”

    Virginia will be the first state to expand a hyper-restrictive single qualifying disorder program to include any diagnosed condition. This didn’t happen because of industry dollars or high powered lobbyists, it happened because two moms wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. We were pushed aside by other organizations interested in working for only small patient groups. We were railroaded by partisan antics more than once. We stood our ground, we pushed forward, and we prevailed.

    Read more here: http://www.suffolknewsherald.com/2018/02/06/advocates-cheer-bills-passage/

    To get involved or to stay up-to-date on the latest marijuana-related news in Virginia, make sure to visit our website at http://www.vanorml.org/ and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

  • by Madisen Saglibene, Executive Director of Las Vegas NORML

    For decades, Las Vegas has been a place known to play fast and loose – and this is even becoming evident in our emerging Marijuana Industry. On January 16, 2018, hundreds of citizens, business owners, and marijuana consumers met to provide public comment on the proposed set of permanent regulations issued by the Nevada Department of Taxation at a public hearing. Taxation in Nevada certifies, audits, coordinates and educates hundreds of state-certified marijuana establishments such as dispensaries, cultivation facilities, production facilities and independent testing laboratories. In 2016, over 600,000 Nevadan’s voted to legalize marijuana, giving the Department of Taxation the authority to regulate the operation of Marijuana Establishments, award and limit licensing, and carry-out other provisions of ballot measure 2. However, due to lack of transparency in the scoring process outlined in the proposed regulations for how these licenses are awarded, dozens went on the record to speak out to the Commision in opposition.

    There were many areas of concern, but because there is little clarity on how the applications for licenses are granted, it would appear there is instead, favors being given to Insiders. Multiple licenses of varying types are being awarded to the same small group of millionaires, allowing for extremely monopolistic practices. When an entity is able to cultivate, produce and dispense all of their own product, there is little incentive to vertically integrate other brands. Cultivators of great brands without a dispensing license are unable to sell their own product, leaving the success of their business in the hands of Dispensaries. In addition, license holders are able to resell licenses, and due to a cap on how many will be issued, the current value of a license is approximately $10 million. This bears significance on who is able to establish themselves in this surfacing industry and is shutting potential small businesses and minorities out. This over-burdened cost to obtain a license dramatically impacts the price tag on products available in the marketplace. Including the marijuana tax, ? of cannabis in Las Vegas is on average $65! Patients and locals have not only been faced with extreme costs but competition with tourists, resulting in limited availability.

    After nearly 3 hours of public comment, the Taxation Commision still made a motion to move forward with the proposal after ZERO deliberation. Because it’s not too late, we are asking Nevadans to urge the Legislation to insist the Department of Taxation extend their deadline of March 1st in order to revisit the verbiage, paying close attention to what the Department can and cannot do according to Question 2. With other States looking at Nevada as a model for a successful program, it is vital the regulations be revisited to ensure fairness and inclusion instead of monopolies and reverting back to old Las Vegas ways.

    Frank Sinatra once said, “Las Vegas is the only place I know where money really talks–it says, “Goodbye,”.”

    Madisen Saglibene is the Executive Director of Las Vegas NORML. 

    Visit their website at http://lvnorml.org/ and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director February 6, 2018

    When NORML was founded in late 1970, only 12% of the country supported legalizing marijuana; 88% were opposed to our goals. After decades of hard work by thousands of committed advocates like you, we have gradually won the hearts and minds of a majority of the public. Today, over 60 percent of adults nationwide support ending marijuana prohibition and establishing a regulated market where consumers can obtain marijuana in a safe and secure setting.

    We are certainly proud of the enormous progress we have made toward ending marijuana prohibition, especially the gains we have made over the last several years. Today, 30 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana; eight states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized the recreational use of marijuana. And we continue to add more victories each year.

    But legalization in Colorado means nothing to those who are arrested for simple possession in Georgia, just as a robust medical program in California means nothing to the cancer patient in North Carolina.

    So far this year, we are pushing for over 70 pieces of legislation and expect that number to easily eclipse 150 in the coming weeks.

    This is why your support is more important than ever and to show it, we’re bringing back the NORML membership cards.

    The goal at NORML is to achieve a policy under which responsible cannabis consumers are treated fairly in all aspects of their lives.

    First and foremost, our mission is to reform state and federal marijuana laws to ensure that no adult will ever face criminal or civil penalties for the responsible consumption of marijuana and that all Americans have the ability to access cannabis for medicinal use if recommended by their physician.

    However, just because more states have begun to legalize adult-use and medicinal marijuana doesn’t mean the fight is over; cannabis consumers are still being penalized and discriminated against in a number of ways.

    We believe that:

    It is wrong that consumers remain subject to job discrimination. Employers ought not to be able to fire employees solely for their off-job marijuana usage, just as employers are unable to sanction employees who consume alcohol after work or on the weekends.

    Marijuana consumers must not be subject to over-regulation and excessive taxation. Marijuana consumers want a product that is safe, convenient and affordable. We want the marijuana to be tested in a state-certified lab to assure it is free of molds and harmful pesticides, and we want accurate labelling of the THC and CBD levels.

    And parents all too often have to fight to maintain custody of their children. The mere fact that a parent chooses to consume marijuana must not be treated under the law as a presumption they are unfit parents.

    And thousands of drivers are arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, simply because they tested positive for some small amount of THC in their system, without the slightest evidence they were driving while impaired. NORML opposes the imposition of these zero-tolerance per se traffic safety laws and is lobbying for their repeal.

    So, as you can see, we still have lots of work ahead of us — even in those states that have enacted some form of marijuana legalization. “>Please join our fight today by becoming a card-carrying member of NORML.

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