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LEGISLATION

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director March 3, 2016

    take_actionMarijuana law reform efforts continue to move forward in numerous states! Below are some of this week’s legislative highlights.

    State:

    Connecticut: State regulators gave final approval this week to expand the state’s list of qualifying conditions for which a physician may recommend medical cannabis. The six new conditions are: ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), ulcerative colitis, sickle cell disease, severe psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis, complex regional pain syndrome, and post-laminectomy syndrome with chronic radiculopathy.

    Florida: Members of Tampa City Council gave preliminary approval today in favor of a local ordinance decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses. Under the plan, municipal law would redefine marijuana possession of 20 grams or less as a civil matter, rather than a criminal offense. First-time violators will face a $75 for the first offense. Council members will hold a  final vote on the measure onMarch 17th. You can contact your City Council members to urge their support for this measure here.

    Volusia county joined nearby Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties this week by passing an ordinance providing police the discretion to cite rather than arrest minor marijuana offenders. Those given citations will face a county court fine of $100. The new law applies only to people caught with marijuana on the beach and in unincorporated county areas. Cities will be allowed to adopt the same law.

    House members overwhelmingly voted on Thursday, March 3, in favor of legislation to permit medical marijuana access to people diagnosed with terminal illnesses. House Bill 307 permits the production and distribution of cannabis to terminally ill patients. Similar language is pending a Senate floor vote. Florida law already permits for the production of strains of cannabis high in CBD to be dispensed to qualified patients with cancer, muscle spasms, and intractable seizures. However, to date, this program has yet to be operational.

    Maryland: On February 26th, HB 104, legislation to expand the pool of medical professionals who can provide written recommendations for marijuana to qualifying patients, was approved by the House in a 110-21 vote. The legislation would allow nurse midwives and nurse practitioners, among other medical professionals, who are in good standing with the state to provide written certifications to qualifying patients. The legislation will now be considered by members of the Senate. #TakeAction

    New York: Next Tuesday, March 8th, members of the Buffalo Common Council will consider the Buffalo Cannabis Act, which decriminalizes the possession of up to two ounces and allows citizens to grow up to six plants in their homes.

    Pennsylvania: After months of delay, House members are anticipated to finally begin debating medical marijuana legislation on the House floor later this month. It will mark the first time House members have taken any action since November when members of the House Rules Committee passed Senate Bill 3. If adopted by the House, Gov. Tom Wolf says he will sign the measure. #TakeAction

    Washington: House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, Senate Bill 6206, establishing regulations governing industrial hemp production. The measure “authorizes the growing of industrial hemp as a legal agricultural activity” in accordance with federal legislation permitting such activity as part of a state-authorized program. Presently, 25 states have enacted legislation permitting licensed hemp cultivation in a manner that is compliant with this statute. The measure awaits action from Gov. Jay Inslee, who is expected to sign it into law.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director February 29, 2016

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 29, 2016

    Contact:
    Jordan Person
    720.588.3814
    responsibleusedenver@gmail.com
    www.responsibleusedenver.com

    DENVER NORML FILES MARIJUANA SOCIAL USE INITIATIVE for 2016 CITY BALLOT
    Would Legalize Private Marijuana Social Clubs and Special Events Where Marijuana Could be Consumed

    Denver, CO – The Denver Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Denver NORML) submitted an initiative today that would legalize marijuana clubs and special events in the city in 2016.

    “Denver residents and visitors alike need places other than private homes to legally and responsibly enjoy legal marijuana with other adults,” said Jordan Person, executive director of Denver NORML.

    “This submission to city council is the first step. We’ll get feedback from the city, finalize the language, then start gathering signatures to put it on the ballot,” Person said. If Denver voters approve this November, private 21+ marijuana social clubs will become legal, as will private 21+ events where marijuana can be lawfully consumed.

    “The city will be able to license and regulate private marijuana clubs and special events to ensure public health and safety,” Person said. “But we want to be sure that the regulations are reasonable and consumer-friendly.”

    Clubs would be stand-alone venues which could not sell or distribute marijuana, and bars, nightclubs and restaurants could not become private marijuana clubs, Jordan said. “We expect there will be a wide range of clubs to serve Denver’s huge and diverse marijuana market,” Jordan said. “What can’t continue is the current situation that leaves so many people frustrated, angry, and tempted to violate the law so they can enjoy a legal product.”

    Since its founding in1970, NORML has been the leading voice for marijuana consumers, and for the end of prohibition that treats otherwise law-abiding marijuana smokers like criminals.

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  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director February 26, 2016

    map_leafThe Vermont Senate approved legalization legislation this week! We also have several additional international updates from around the globe.

    International:

    Australia: Members of Australia’s House and Senate approved legislation this week to amend federal law to permit for the licensed production and distribution of cannabis to qualified patients. The move by Parliament follows recent efforts by several Australian territories to provide patients participating in clinical trials with access to the plant. Government officials will still need to develop and approve regulations for the new program before any production licenses can be issued.

    Canada: A federal court in Canada ruled this week that government officials cannot prohibit physician-authorized patients from growing their own supply of medical cannabis. The decision strikes down regulations enacted in 2013 that sought to take away patients’ longstanding authority to grow personal use quantities of cannabis.

    The judge’s ruling provides Parliament with six months to create new rules governing the regulation and distribution of medical cannabis in a manner that no longer requires patients to obtain medicine solely from federally-licensed, private third party providers. NORML Canada ‘s John Conroy served as lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case, while NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano served as an expert witness and filed an affidavit in the case.

    Federal:

    In an interview from last year but only recently made public, former US Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged that marijuana should “certainly be rescheduled”. He said, “You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate. So at a minimum, I think Congress needs to do that. Then I think we need to look at what happens in Colorado and what happens in Washington.”

    While NORML agrees that marijuana’s current classification in the Controlled Substances Act is inappropriate, NORML believes in descheduling cannabis, not rescheduling the plant. In an article published this week on Alternet, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano outlines why rescheduling cannabis does not go far enough and advocates for why it should be removed from the CSA altogether.

    State:

    greenhouseGeorgia: Legislation has been introduced, House Bill 1046, to amend state law so that minor marijuana offenders no longer face jail time. If approved, the legislation would make the first time possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a $250 fine. Subsequent offenses would result in a $500 fine for the second offense and $750 fine for the third offense. #TakeAction

    Hawaii: Pending legislation, Senate Bill 2787, to further encourage the state Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp for “research and development purposes” was approved by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor this week. The committee approved an amended version of the legislation in a 4-0 vote. #TakeAction

    Pennsylvania: Members of the Harrisburg City Council have scheduled two separate public meetings to discuss a proposal to redefine municipal marijuana possession offenses from a misdemeanor to a citation. The meetings will be Thursday March 10 at the Harrisburg Area Community College midtown campus, Midtown 2, Room 206, at 1500 North Third Street and Thursday March 24 at the city’s public works building at 1820 Paxton Street. Both meetings will start at 5:30 p.m.

    Michigan: Newly introduced Senate legislation, SB 813, seeks to permit for the personal possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana. Under the measure, adults would be permitted to possess and grow personal use quantities of the plant, and a system would be established for the retail production and sale of cannabis. Similar legislation introduced in the fall of 2015, HB 4877, remains pending in the Judiciary Committee. #TakeAction

    Vermont: Members of the Senate voted 17 to 12 on Thursday in favor of legislation, Senate Bill 241, to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of cannabis. The historic vote marks the first time that any legislative chamber in the state has ever approved legislation to permit the adult use and retail sale of cannabis.

    The Senate’s action was praised by Gov. Shumlin, who is backing the measure. The measure now will be debated by members of the Vermont House. #TakeAction

    marijuana_gavelWest Virginia: House Bill 4712 was introduced this week to depenalize marijuana possession offenses. The legislation removes marijuana from West Virginia’s list of schedule I drugs and removes all state criminal and civil penalties associated with the substance. Additionally, the proposal allows adults 21 and older to cultivate up to six cannabis plants, and to transfer up to one ounce of cannabis to another person age 21 or older without remuneration. #TakeAction

    In addition, senate legislation is pending to permit qualified patients access to medical cannabis. Senate Bill 640 permits qualified patients to engage in marijuana therapy and to cultivate (up to 12 mature plants) and to possess (up to six ounces) personal use amounts of cannabis. The measure also seeks to establish a permitting process for “registered compassion centers”, which will be licensed to produce and dispense medicinal cannabis to qualified patients. The bill is before the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee. You can read the full text of this measure here. Companion legislation, House Bill 4680, has also been filed in the House of Representatives. #TakeAction

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 25, 2016

    legalization_pollA majority of likely California voters say that they intend to vote ‘yes’ this November for an initiative to regulate the retail production and sale of marijuana by adults, according to the results of a Probolsky Research poll released today.

    Sixty percent of respondents say that they will vote in favor of an initiative this November “that would legalize marijuana for recreational use under California law and allow government to tax” its retail sales. Thirty-seven percent said that they would vote ‘no.’

    Support was strongest among those between the ages of 18 to 34 (80 percent) and self-identified Democrats (69 percent). Republicans (38 percent) and those over the age of 65 (46 percent) were least likely to express support.

    The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which is expected to appear on the November ballot, permits adults to legally grow (up to six plants) and possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrate) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The measure prohibits localities from taking actions to infringe upon adults’ ability to possession and cultivate cannabis for non-commercial purposes. Both the California Medical Association and the state chapter of the NAACP have endorsed the measure.

    On February 20, a majority of the NORML Board of Directors endorsed the AUMA, along with separate initiatives that are anticipated to appear on the November 2016 ballot in Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Arizona, as well as medical use initiatives expected to appear on the ballot in Missouri and Florida.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    wheelchair_patientMembers of Australia’s House and Senate approved legislation this week to amend federal law to permit for the licensed production and distribution of cannabis to qualified patients.

    The measure amends the Narcotic Drugs Act of 1967 to allow “for the cultivation and production of cannabis and cannabis resin for medicinal and scientific purposes,” and to authorize “a state or territory government agency to undertake [in the] cultivation and production of cannabis and [in the] manufacture of medicinal cannabis products.”

    The move by Parliament follows recent efforts by several Australian territories to provide patients participating in clinical trials with access to the plant.

    “This is an historic day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals,” Minister for Health Sussan Ley said in a statement. “This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy.”

    Government officials will still need to develop and approve regulations for the new program before any production licenses can be issued.

    Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands are among the handful of nations that presently provide federal licenses to private growers to supply medical marijuana to qualified patients. Colombia, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico are also expected to begin licensing medical marijuana manufacturing in the near future.

    In 2013, Uruguay officials approved legislation authorizing the retail production and sale of cannabis to those age 18 and older. Consumers in that country are anticipated to be able to begin purchasing cannabis at state-licensed pharmacies by mid-2016.

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