• by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director February 15, 2018

    Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) has introduced the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act which would essentially codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo.

    Upon the introduction, Rep. Correa said, “To date, eight states have legalized recreational cannabis, and twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, representing more than half of the American population, have enacted legislation to permit the use of cannabis. Attorney General Sessions’ decision to rescind the “Cole Memo” created great uncertainty for these states and legal cannabis businesses, and put citizens in jeopardy for following their state laws.

    In my state of California, voters want legal cannabis. It boosts our economy and is a strong medical tool. By 2020, revenues from cannabis sales taxes could reach $1 billion annually for California. This bill will protect California and other states from federal overreach and ensure the will of the American voter is respected.”

    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 Reps. 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. 

  • 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,

    Priority Alerts


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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.


    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 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.

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