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LEGISLATION

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director March 16, 2015

    2015 NORML Legislative Fly-In
    Please join NORML on May 20/21 in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress for passage of cannabis law reform legislation pending before it.

    You’ve probably seen by now the historically important bill to reform medical cannabis laws introduced in the U.S. Senate. There has never been a more exciting and receptive time to be a cannabis law reform activist in America with this political backdrop:

    • 35 states have passed medical cannabis-related legislation (in 23 of these states patients have functional access to the medicine and legal protections)
    • 17 states have decriminalized the possession of cannabis for adults
    • 4 states have legalized the cultivation and sale of cannabis (Washington, D.C. has de-penalized the possession and use of cannabis for adults; allows limited home cultivation; no sales)
    • Every national poll, including the oldest social survey data set, now indicate a majority of Americans no longer favor cannabis prohibition.

    It’s indisputable. Cannabis law reform in America is happening in our lifetimes.

    By the time the NORML Legislative Fly-In convenes in late May, as many as 20 reform bills will have been introduced for us to rally around in our lobbying efforts–and with the new Senate bill, for the first time since the late 1970s, there is good reason to lobby the Senate as hard as the House.

    Also, and of great importance in placing upward political pressure on elected members of Congress and their staff, are the nearly 75 state legislative bills around the country that are now debating cannabis law reform measures–ranging from medical access to industrial hemp to decriminalization to legalization.

    This year upwards of half the states’ legislatures are looking at dozens of reform bills and this clearly positively impacts Congress to see these needed socio-legal reforms bubbling up from their home states and regions.

    For many in Congress, they know the political writing is on the wall for the federal prohibition on cannabis commerce to survive much longer.

    Let’s help make their jobs easier by showing them the necessary public support to hasten cannabis law reforms at the federal level.

    Lastly, there is a strong possibility that we’re going to add another event to the program, in conjunction with High Times…and featuring a famous TV and movie personality who has expressed strong interest in getting involved with the public discussion about cannabis law reform. TBA.

    Please pre-register for the NORML Legislative Fly-In, make your travel and hotel arrangements ASAP to assure lowest possible costs.

    NORML members and supporters get first shot at the low early bird pricing of $50/person.

    Also, there are sponsorship opportunities as well for cannabis-related businesses, services and organizations.

    Below is a brief breakdown of lodging options for the Conference.

    Thanks in advance and hope to see you at the height of Spring in the nation’s capital, being an active participant in an historic public advocacy effort to once and for all end cannabis prohibition.

    Cannabem liberemus,

    -Allen St. Pierre
    Executive Director
    NORML / NORML Foundation
    Washington, D.C.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 11, 2015

    More than six out of ten Connecticut voters favor legalizing marijuana use by adults, according to statewide polling conducted by Quinnipiac University.

    Sixty-three percent of respondents said that they favored permitting adults to legally possess personal use quantities of cannabis. Only 34 percent of voters opposed this idea.

    Legislation, House Bill 6703, is presently pending in the state, “to allow marijuana use for persons twenty-one years of age and older, and to regulate the sale, possession, use and growth of marijuana.” Connecticut residents can contact their lawmakers in support of this measure here.

    State voters, by an overwhelming 82 percent to 15 percent margin, also support eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for offenses involving the possession of small amounts of illegal drugs, and allowing judges to decide sentences on a case by case basis.

    The Quinnipiac University poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 2, 2015

    Jamaica: Ganja Decriminalization Plan Finally Approved By ParliamentMembers of Jamaica’s Parliament have given final approval to a long-standing plan to amend the nation’s marijuana policies.

    The newly passed measure amends the island’s Dangerous Drugs Act so that the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis by an adult is reclassified as a non-criminal offense. Violators of the new law will receive a ticket and be mandated to pay a fine, but will not face criminal penalties. Public use of the substance will remain prohibited.

    Separate provisions of the measure seek to establish regulations allowing for the licensed production of cannabis for therapeutic purposes as well as for industrial purposes. Additional provisions of the bill provide broader legal protections for those who use the plant for sacramental purposes.

    Although various Jamaican commissions had previously recommended similar changes in policy for well over a decade, lawmakers had until now consistently failed to move forward with any legislation seeking to depenalize the plant’s possession or production.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 25, 2015

    NORML Legislative Fly-InDistrict of Columbia officials are moving forward with implementing a voter-approved initiative depenalizing offenses involving the personal possession and/or cultivation of cannabis by adults.

    The new law is set to take effect Thursday, February 26, at 12:01am. In a press release issued Tuesday, District officials — including Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Cathy Lanier — reaffirmed their intent to recognize the will of District voters, 70 percent of whom voted in favor of the municipal measure (I-71).

    “In November, residents of the District of Columbia voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana by adults for personal, in-home use in the District,” said Mayor Bowser. “We will uphold the letter and the spirit of the initiative that was passed last year, and we will establish the Initiative 71 Task Force to coordinate our enforcement, awareness and engagement efforts and address policy questions as they arise.”

    Initiative 71 permits adults to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and to cultivate up to six marijuana plants (no more than three mature at any one time) in one’s primary residence without facing any criminal or civil penalty. Not-for-profit transactions involving small amounts of the substance are also permitted; however, for-profit sales are prohibited as is the retail production or distribution of the plant.

    The consumption of cannabis in public or on federal property also remains prohibited.

    District officials contend that they possess the legal authority to depenalize minor marijuana offenses despite the passage of a federal spending provision in December prohibiting the District from spending any tax dollars to implement the new law. They argue that the municipal measure took effect upon passage in November and that Congress failed to take any explicit action to overturn the law during its requisite 30-day review period. (This Congressional review period is mandated law before any new District legislation may be imposed.)

    District officials’ stance is not without some vocal critics. Earlier this week, two Republican members of Congress sent a letter to DC’s Mayor warning that Congress may take action if I-71 is enforced.

    “If you decide to move forward … with the legalization of marijuana in the District, you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law,” reads the letter signed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), chairman of the subcommittee that handles DC affairs.

    In an interview with The Washington Post, Rep. Chaffetz threatened Mayor Bowser and city officials, stating, “[If District officials are] under any illusion that this would be legal, they are wrong. And there are very severe consequences for violating this provision. You can go to prison for this. We’re not playing a little game here.”

    To date, neither spokespersons for the Mayor’s office and/or the DC City Council have responded directly to the Congressmen nor have they indicated that they intend to reconsider their decision to implement I-71 as voters intended.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 24, 2015

    Alaska Legalization Law Takes EffectLegislation enacted by voters in November legalizing the personal use and cultivation of marijuana takes effect today.

    Fifty-three percent of Alaska voters approved Ballot Measure 2 on Election Day, permitting those over the age of 21 to lawfully possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or to grow up to six marijuana plants (no more than three mature) for non-commercial purposes. Sharing or gifting personal use quantities of marijuana is also permitted under the new law; however the consumption of cannabis in public remains an offense.

    Lawmakers will now begin the process of establishing licensing requirements for those who wish to commercially produce cannabis and/or engage in the plant’s retail sale. State regulators have up to nine months to enact rules to govern these commercial entities and are expected to begin granting operator permits by February 2016.

    Since 1975, Alaskans have enjoyed personal privacy protections based on a state Supreme Court decision allowing for the possession and cultivation of personal use amounts of cannabis in one’s home. However, state lawmakers had never before codified these protections into law or permitted a legal market for marijuana production and sales.

    Alaska is the third state – following Colorado and Washington – to legalize the personal possession of marijuana by adults and to license the plant’s retail production and sales. Oregon voters in November approved similar legislation (Measure 91), which is scheduled to go into effect later this year.

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