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LEGISLATION

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 1, 2018

    Maine Yes on 1Emergency legislation enacted in January 2017 to delay the implementation of several provisions of Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act expired today. Proposed legislation in Maine’s House of Representatives to extend the moratorium until May 1, 2018 failed by a vote of 81 to 65.

    Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who opposed Question 1, had demanded lawmakers seek a nearly one-year additional extension to the existing moratorium. In November, Gov. LePage vetoed legislation that sought to implement provisions in the Act regulating the production and retail sales of cannabis to adults.

    Absent the passage of explicit legislation governing the licensed production and retail sale of marijuana, there still remains no legal way for businesses in Maine to legally grow or sell cannabis commercially. Provisions in Question 1 permitting the establishment of state-licensed social clubs for adult marijuana users also remain indefinitely on hold.

    By contrast, language in the Act prohibiting employers from taking punitive action against personnel for their off-the-job use of cannabis is anticipated to now go into effect. Specifically, the initiative states, “A school, employer or landlord may not refuse to enroll or employ or lease to or otherwise penalize a person 21 years of age or older solely for that person’s consuming marijuana outside of the school’s, employer’s or landlord’s property.” While the language does not mandate employers to in any way accommodate employees’ marijuana use while on the job, nor does it permit employees to be at work while under the influence, it does limit the ability for an employer to discriminate against those who test positive on either a workplace or a pre-employment drug test. In preparation for this law change, the Maine Department of Labor has removed marijuana from the list of drugs for which an employer may test in its “model” applicant drug-testing policy, according to a January 30 report on the legal website Lexology.com.

    Separate provisions permitting adults to possess and grow limited quantities of cannabis took effect early last year after action taken by the legislature.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 24, 2018

    Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Tuesday calling on state regulators to review the state’s eight-year-old medical cannabis access program and to recommend ways to increase participation from patients and physicians.

    “Our goal is to modernize the program in New Jersey, bring it up to current standards, and put patients first,” he said.

    The Governor’s order mandates state Department of Health and the Board of Medical Examiners to submit recommendations within 60 days on ways to improve the program.

    Presently, only five dispensaries statewide are licensed to service an estimated 15,000 patients. Compared to other medical cannabis access states, New Jersey possesses among the lowest rates of participation among eligible patients and doctors. Retail costs for medical cannabis products are also among the highest in the nation.

    If you reside in New Jersey, you can urge regulators to take actions to improve the state’s medical cannabis law by clicking here.

    Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie routinely voiced his disapproval for the program, which was signed into law by his predecessor Jon Corzine, and he pushed for various rules and regulations to both delay and limit its implementation.

    While campaigning for Governor, Murphy pledged to reform the state’s marijuana policies, and spoke in favor of legalizing adult marijuana use.

    Again, if you live in New Jersey, take time today to tell regulators to put the interests of New Jersey’s patients first!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 23, 2018

    Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) addresses NORML members in September, 2017

    A recently approved plan by the members of the US House and Senate to temporarily extend federal funding through February 8, 2018 also extends provisions protecting statewide medical cannabis programs from federal interference.

    The short-term funding plan authorizes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment to remain in place for the time being. The amendment, enacted by Congress in 2014, maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

    Because the provision was initially approved as a budgetary amendment, it must be explicitly re-authorized by Congress as part of either a continuing resolution or a new fiscal year appropriations bill in order to maintain in effect.

    Urge Congressional leadership to include a re-authorization of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in all future spending bills by clicking here.

    Explained co-sponsor Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): “I expect that during this time period, we will be maneuvering on the cannabis issue and the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. So this is a time for people to make sure that they contact their own member of Congress to make sure that they get behind the amendment for the final bill.”

    Presently, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer is included as part of a Senate finance bill. But this language is absent from the House’s funding proposal because House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) refused to allow House members to vote on it. As a result, House and Senate leadership will ultimately decide on the amendment’s fate when when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled — which may or may not be prior to February 8.

    Tell Congress to take action by clicking here.

  • by NORML January 22, 2018

    Vermont Legalizes MarijuanaRepublican Gov. Phil Scott has signed legislation (H. 511) into law legalizing the use and cultivation of marijuana by adults. Vermont is the ninth state to statutorily permit adults to possess marijuana for personal use, and it is the first state to enact these reforms via legislative action rather than by the passage of a voter-initiated ballot measure.

    “The majority of Vermonters, like the majority of the American public, desire to live in a community where responsible adults who choose to consume cannabis are no longer criminalized or stigmatized,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “Governor Scott should be recognized for helping to provide Vermonters with a path forward at a time when many elected officials elsewhere are clinging to the failed policies of the past.”

    The forthcoming law, which takes effect on July 1 of this year, eliminates civil penalties specific to the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, and also removes criminal penalties with regard to the private cultivation of six marijuana plants (two mature and up to four immature). Those who cultivate marijuana for their own personal use may possess at home the total quantity of their harvest.

    The measure also imposes new civil penalties for consuming cannabis while driving, and imposes additional penalties for those who operate a motor vehicle impaired with a minor in the vehicle.

    The Governor vetoed similar legislation in 2017, but had consistently indicated since then that he was willing to reconsider his position.

    Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia have also legalized marijuana use by adults.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director January 17, 2018

    Today, Representative Barbara Lee of California along with over a dozen original co-sponsors have introduced the Marijuana Justice Act into the House of Representatives.

    “I’m proud to introduce the Marijuana Justice Act – bold, progressive legislation to address the legacy of racial bias in marijuana enforcement and to end the failed War on Drugs,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Today, we are asking Congress to turn the page on decades of unjust marijuana prohibition and forge a new path forward. It’s past time that we take decisive action to right the wrongs from decades of misguided policies.”

    This marks the first time that companion legislation has been introduced in both chambers of Congress to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

    This robust legislation not only removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, it also provides a path forward for the individuals and communities that have been most disproportionately targeted by our nation’s failed war on marijuana consumers. As you may be aware, throughout the country African Americans are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at nearly four times the rates of whites, yet both ethnicities consume marijuana at roughly the same rates.

    Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of The Marijuana Justice Act now

    The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 would:

    • Remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances making it legal at the federal level;
    • Incentivize states through federal funds to change their marijuana laws if marijuana in the state is illegal and it disproportionately arrests or incarcerates minority and poor people for marijuana-related offenses;
    • Automatically expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes;
    • Allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison to petition a court for a resentencing;
    • Create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs and allows the money to go towards the following programs:
      • Job training;
      • Reentry services;
      • Expenses related to the expungement of convictions;
      • Public libraries;
      • Community centers;
      • Programs and opportunities dedicated to youth; and
      • Health education programs.

    As you already know, 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. It is time for federal lawmakers to acknowledge this reality. 

    So click here and send a message to your federal lawmakers now in support of The Marijuana Justice Act.

    After you send your letter so it will stay in their official records, click HERE to find your Representative’s office number and then call their Washington, DC office.

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