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LEGISLATION

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate April 20, 2018

    Welcome to the 4/20 edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    Today’s the day. The High Holy Day for cannabis consumers everywhere. Happy Holidaze, my people! Check out all the 4/20 events happening around the country, and remember to be safe and smoke responsibly!

    There have been lots of significant developments in the marijuana space recently, specifically at the federal level. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced his intention to sponsor a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

    Republican Senator Cory Gardner (CO) says that he has received a verbal commitment from President Donald Trump specifying that the administration will not take action to disrupt marijuana markets in states that legally regulate it. Also, Senator Bernie Sanders signed on as a co-sponsor of The Marijuana Justice Act. Yesterday,  Sen. Sanders joined Senator Cory Booker on a live stream for a conversation about ending prohibition and co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act.

    Additionally, legislation was introduced this week to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

    At the state level, Pennsylvania’s health secretary approved a recommendation from the medical cannabis law Advisory Board to allow sales of medical cannabis in flower form and to add new qualifying conditions to the list. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill into law that includes expungement for prior marijuana convictions. And unfortunately, South Dakota’s secretary of state rejected a proposed medical cannabis ballot measure because there were not enough valid signatures in a random sample.

    At a more local level, Los Angeles, California’s top marijuana regulator said the city is considering allowing consumption lounges, and Denver, Colorado’s mayor is proposing raising the city’s marijuana sales tax from 3.5% to 5.5% to fund affordable 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 274 seeks to entirely decriminalize the possession and distribution of marijuana, contingent on the creation of a sales tax system that would regulate the legal sale of marijuana.

    Update: HB 274 was heard by the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on 4/17.

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

    Maine

    Legislation is pending, LD 1539, to greatly expand patients’ access to medical cannabis. Among changes proposed by the bill: Physicians would be able, at their sole discretion, to recommend cannabis therapy to any patient for whom they think it would benefit; Caregivers would be able to manage more than five patients at one time; Regulators would increase the total number of licensed dispensaries from eight to 14.

    Update: The Senate voted 25-10 to pass LD 1539 on 4/18, and it now heads to Governor LePage for his signature or veto. He has 10 days to act on the bill, but is expected to veto it.

    ME resident? Click here to email Governor LePage in support of expanding the medical marijuana program

    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.

    Update: The House Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs held a hearing on H 3521 on 4/19, and then approved the bill by a 14-3 vote.

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

    New Hampshire

    Senate Bill 388 would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis.

    Update: SB 388 was unanimously approved by the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on 4/18, after holding a public hearing and then an executive session on the bill.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the medical marijuana program

    California

    Assembly Bill 1793 would “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: The Assembly’s Public Safety Committee unanimously approved AB 1793 on 4/17 after a hearing was held. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past cannabis convictions

    Alaska

    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.

    Update: The House of Representatives approved similar legislation by a 30-10 vote on 4/15, HB 316, which restricts the release of certain records of convictions to the public. The bill now heads to the Senate.

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

    Hawaii

    House Bill 2729, 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.

    Update: The Senate approved HB 2729 with amendments on 4/10, but the House disagreed with the proposed amendments. Both Chambers will have to work to come up with a satisfactory compromise.

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

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    Oklahoma

    Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens introduced HB 2913: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. The bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes.

    Update: HB 2913 was approved by the Senate by a 39-1 vote on 4/16, and now awaits action by Governor Mary Fallin.

    OK resident? Click here to email Gov. Fallin in support of industrial hemp research

    Missouri

    Senate Bill 547 seeks to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp. It would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.

    Update: SB 547 was approved by the House Rules Legislative Oversight Committee on 4/18 after holding an executive session. It’s on the calendar to be considered by the full House on 4/23.

    MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of hemp modifications

    Iowa

    Senate File 2398 would establish The Iowa Industrial Hemp Act. The bill would allow the Department of Agriculture to establish a research pilot program that engages in the licensed cultivation, production, and marketing of industrial hemp. SF 2398 was already unanimously approved by the Senate earlier this month.

    Update: The House Ways and Means Subcommittee approved SF 2398 on 4/11.

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

    California

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

    Update: SB 930 was unanimously approved by the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 4/18 after a public hearing was held.

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

    That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates, and I wish everyone the happiest 4/20!

  • by NORML April 19, 2018

    Today, Senator Bernie Sanders joined Senator Cory Booker on a live stream for a conversation about ending prohibition and co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act.

    But they can’t do it alone.

    Right now, 33 members of Congress have put their name on the House and Senate versions of this legislation, but we still have a long way to go. Politicians are starting to realize that legalization is not only good policy, but good politics. Send a message to your federal officials and tell them to put their name on this legislation too.

    The ongoing enforcement of cannabis 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. The Marijuana Justice Act would be the sensible, moral, and rational way to end the failed policy of marijuana criminalization.

    In 2016, over 650,000 people were arrested for marijuana. The consequences are staggering. From time spent in jail to the costs of legal fees – to the collateral consequences, including but not limited to having to list a criminal offense on a job or housing application, the criminalization of cannabis is a cruel concept that most hurts those in poverty and is disproportionately enforced against people of color.

    Don’t wait until 4/20 to take action. Send a message to your lawmakers NOW.

    Thanks for standing up, speaking out, and being a NORML citizen.

    Your friends at National NORML.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 18, 2018

    United States Rep. Timothy Waltz (D-MN), along with over 30 bipartisan co-sponsors, has introduced legislation, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans.

    The legislation states: “In carrying out the responsibilities of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, … the Secretary may conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety of forms of cannabis … on the health outcomes of covered veterans diagnosed with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions the Secretary determines appropriate.”

    According to nationwide survey data compiled by The American Legion, 39 percent of respondents affirmed that they “know a veteran” who is using the plant medicinally. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they themselves “use cannabis to treat a mental or physical condition.” Yet, VA Secretary David Shulkin has consistently rejected calls from veterans groups and lawmakers to study the use of cannabis among military veterans.

    Passage of HR 5520 explicitly authorizes “the Secretary to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis.”

    Representative Walz, who is the ranking member of the House VA committee, said: “While we know cannabis can have life-saving effects on veterans suffering from chronic pain or PTSD, there has been a severe lack of research studying the full effect of medicinal cannabis on these veterans. Simply put, there is no department or organization better suited to conduct this critically important research than VA, and there will never be a better time to act.”

    Please click here to urge your federal lawmakers to support HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

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

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

    I first want to bring your attention to some key developments happening at the federal level. United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, introduced legislation to remove low THC hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act and amend federal regulations to better facilitate industrial hemp production, research, and commerce. Identical companion language, HR 5485, was also introduced in the House.

    Additionally, the United Nations World Health Organization is due to review the current international classification of marijuana, THC, cannabidiol, and other related compounds and preparations this year. In the lead-up, the WHO is asking member nations to submit feedback. Between now and April 23rd, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comment from “interested persons” (I.E. you) regarding the international Schedule 1 Status of marijuana under international agreements. Over 8,500 NORML members have already sent in their comments.

    At the state level, Governor Bill Walker of Alaska signed SB 6 into law, to establish an agricultural pilot program to permit the cultivation, production, and sale of industrial hemp by registered providers. The Pennsylvania Department of Health Medical Marijuana Advisory Board recommended adding flower (to be vaped) as a form of medication, and a Florida judge ruled that a medical cannabis patient has the right to grow his own marijuana.

    South Carolina and Maryland state legislatures adjourned this week, effectively killing a SC medical marijuana bill, and a MD decriminalization expansion bill.

    At a more local level, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller signed a bill into law Thursday decriminalizing the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in the city.

    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

    Legalization
    House Bill 7883 seeks to place a non-binding marijuana legalization question on the state’s November ballot.

    The proposal question would read: “Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”

    Update: The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HB 7883 on 4/10.

    RI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters weigh in

    Employment Protections
    H 7899 seeks to protect state-registered medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

    Update: The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HB 7899 on 4/12. The Committee recommended the bill be held for further study, effectively killing it for this year.

    New Jersey

    Legislation is pending, S2426 and A3740, to further expand the state’s medical marijuana law.

    The measures provide doctors the discretion to recommend medical marijuana to any patient for whom they believe it will provide a benefit. A third proposal, S2373, is also pending to allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition.

    NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting doctors decide

    Louisiana

    House Bill 579 seeks to expand the state’s nascent medical cannabis program.

    The measure 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 House 60-39 on 4/12, and now heads to the Senate. As amended by the House, the bill also adds Parkinson’s disease to the list of conditions eligible for cannabis therapy.

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

    New Hampshire

    Home Cultivation
    House Bill 1476 is pending, which seeks to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use.

    Update: The Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on HB 1476 on 4/12. The committee’s vote is expected as soon as next week.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of home cultivation rights

    Expungement
    House Bill 1477 would 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. The bill already passed the full House earlier this year.

    Update: HB 1477 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 4/10. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate on 4/19.

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

    Medical Expansion
    Senate Bill 388 seeks to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

    The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis. It already passed the full Senate last month.

    Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee held a public hearing on AB 388 on 4/11. and there will be an Executive Session on the bill at 10 am on 4/17 in LOB 205.

    NH 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: The Assembly’s Labor And Employment Committee will hold a hearing on AB 2069 on 4/25 at 1:30pm, rescheduled from 4/18.

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

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    Hawaii

    House Bill 2729 seeks 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. It already passed the full House last month.

    Update: HB 2729 passed the full Senate unanimously on 4/10, but the House disagreed with the proposed amendments.

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

    Maine

    Lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to amend a key provision of the state’s voter-initiated adult use marijuana law. Under existing law, adults may legally cultivate as many as six mature marijuana plants on their property. Lawmakers are suggesting halving this amount. The bill already passed the full House earlier this month.

    NORML opposes this law change.

    Update: Members of the Senate voted 24-10 in favor of the measure. The legislation, which would implement retail marijuana sales, in addition to making numerous other changes with regard to taxes, social clubs, and home cultivation, has enough support to override a potential veto from Gov. LePage — who opposes marijuana sales.

    ME resident? Click here to email Governor LePage and urge him to veto this bill

    Oklahoma

    Senate Bill 1120 seeks to preemptively challenge provisions in State Question 788. SQ 788 is written in a manner to be patient-centric. The changes proposed by SB 1120 are unduly restrictive and are not in the best interest of physicians or their patients. The bill already passed the full Senate last month.

    NORML endorses State Question 788 and opposes SB 1120.

    Update: SB 1120 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 4/11 by a 11-5 vote.

    OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in opposition to this effort

    Illinois

    Senate Bill 2298 provides for the ability for 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 in the Senate Agriculture Committee on 4/12, and was then approved by the Committee.

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

    California

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

    Update: AB 3157 will be heard by the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on 4/23.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of temporary tax reductions

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

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 12, 2018

    United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation today to remove low THC hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act and amend federal regulations to better facilitate industrial hemp production, research, and commerce.

    The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 allows states, not the federal government, to regulate hemp production and allocates grant funding to federally subsidize industrial hemp cultivation. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established agricultural crop.

    Senator McConnell said: “Today, with my colleagues, I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which will build upon the success of the hemp pilot programs and spur innovation and growth within the industry. By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans, we can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the county.”

    Senator McConnell previously shepherded federal reforms (Section 7606 of the Farm Bill) in 2014 permitting states to legally authorize hemp cultivation as part of academic research pilot programs. Over two-dozen states have established regulations permitting limited hemp cultivation under this provision. In 2017, state-licensed producers grew over 39,000 acres of hemp, up from roughly 16,000 acres in 2016.

    Separate legislation, HR 3530, is currently pending in the US House of Representatives to exclude low-THC strains of cannabis grown for industrial purposes from the federal definition of marijuana. That measure has 43 co-sponsors.

    To contact your members of Congress in support of this legislation, please click here!

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