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Citizen Lobbyists

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate August 3, 2018

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

    Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-GA) filed a new bill in the US House of Representatives this week to shield federal employees from being fired for marijuana use that is legal in the state in which they live.

    The Oklahoma Board of Health reversed course this week and revoked their previous set of proposed rules that went against the intent of SQ 788, which voters approved in the June special election. This reversal comes shortly after the state’s Attorney General warned health officials that they “acted in excess of their statutory authority” when they amended State Question 788. These new rules now go to Governor Fallin’s desk, she has 45 days to approve or reject them. As a reminder, the proposed rules remove the ban on the retail sale of herbal cannabis, eliminate the requirement that dispensaries hire state-licensed pharmacists, and no longer mandate that women of childbearing age undergo a pregnancy test prior to receiving a medical cannabis recommendation.

    Missouri’s secretary of state certified that three separate medical cannabis initiatives have enough signatures to appear on the November ballot. The Missouri Constitution specifies that if conflicting initiative measures appear on the same ballot, the one which receives the most votes will prevail. It is likely that all three of these measures will have the support of a majority of the voters. Two are constitutional amendments and the third is a statutory initiative.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) formed a working group to draft marijuana legalization legislation for the legislature to consider in 2019. And Hawaii regulators convened a working group to address employment issues for medical cannabis patients as well as edibles manufacturing.

    Also at the state level, about half of the medical cannabis dispensaries in Pennsylvania began selling medical cannabis in herbal form to registered patients, and the other half are anticipated to do the same this coming week. And Rhode Island medical cannabis dispensaries began serving out-of-state patients.

    Additionally, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill allowing medical cannabis in schools. Also, autism and obstructive sleep apnea became Minnesota medical cannabis qualifying conditions on Wednesday.

    At a more local level, Manhattan’s district attorney announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana use or possession.

    The Racine, Wisconsin City Council is considering placing a marijuana legalization advisory question on the November ballot, and similarly, the Eau Claire County, Wisconsin Administration Committee voted to advance consideration of marijuana advisory ballot questions. The Oregon, Ohio City Council placed a marijuana depenalization measure on the November ballot, but a proposed Nelsonville, Ohio marijuana decriminalization measure did not qualify for the November ballot.

    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 Cannabis Criminalization: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

    Click here to e-mail your senators and urge them to support this important legislation

    Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    Senate Bill 20-62 seeks to legalize the personal use and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for adults age 21 or older, and establish a licensing scheme for its commercial production and retail sale. The tax revenue would be used to fund the implementation of the program and other government services.

    Update: The House of Representatives sent SB 20-62 back to committee on 8/1, but will soon introduce its own version of the legislation that should solve procedural issues around it being a revenue generating measure.

    CNMI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization and regulation

    California

    Expungement

    Assembly Bill 1793 seeks “to 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: AB 1793 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 8/6 at 10am in the John L. Burton Hearing Room.

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

    Banking

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

    Update: SB 9030 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 8/8 at 9am in the State Capitol, Room 4202.

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

    That’s all the legislative updates for this week!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director August 1, 2018

    Everyday NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Below is a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

    Lehigh Valley NORML Continues Push to Decriminalize Possession of Marijuana

    Members of Lehigh Valley NORML are circulating a petition with the hopes of convincing members of the Easton City Council to reconsider an ordinance that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

    Read more from The Morning Call!

    Follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter today!

     

    Collaboration and Education Remain a Priority for Kentucky NORML

    Members of Kentucky NORML recently teamed up with the Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC), Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana (KY4MM), the Alliance for Innovative Medicine (AIM), to host an educational forum.

    Read more from NORML.org!

    Follow Kentucky NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    NORML Leaders in the Media

    NORML Chapter Leadership in Pennsylvania Question Police Tactics That Led to Man’s Death Over Small Marijuana Grow

    “The body of a suspect in the case, Pennsylvania resident Gregory A. Longenecker, was found earlier this week under a bulldozer operated by a Pennsylvania Game Commission worker. The bulldozer was carrying a Pennsylvania state trooper in pursuit of Mr. Longenecker, who was suspected to have been cultivating ten marijuana plants in Penn Township, PA. A police helicopter was also used in the search.”

    Read more from NORML.org!

    Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Mikel Weisser, Executive Director, Arizona NORML

    “Exactly how many cannabis extracts Arizona patients consume isn’t known for sure, but products with extracts are among the best sellers at many dispensaries. Mikel Weisser, executive director of Arizona’s National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws chapter, estimated concentrates made up about 40 percent of dispensary sales.”

    Read more from the Phoenix New Times!

    Follow Arizona NORML on Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Dale Geringer, Executive Director, California NORML

    But it’s still a felony to use minors to sell cannabis or to repeatedly grow large amounts of marijuana without a license, and advocates say they never expected marijuana-related arrests would drop to zero under the new law. “That’s like saying no one is arrested for alcohol anymore because alcohol is legal,” said Dale Gieringer, director of the advocacy group California NORML.

    Read more from The Mercury News!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Dale Geringer, Executive Director, California NORML

    “Edibles are attractive to young people and pets,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). “The new labeling and packaging rules mandated by Prop. 64 should alleviate the problem.”

    Read more from the L.A. Times!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

    “According to the Attorney General’s annual crime report for 2017, arrests for marijuana offenses dropped precipitously in California following the passage of Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use for adults in November 2016.”

    Read more from City Watch!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Cynthia Ferguson, Executive Director, Delaware NORML

    Cynthia Ferguson, executive director of Delaware’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the new measure is not enough but is a step in the right direction. “It’s nice for first-timers. Expungement is a big thing. When you are charged with a cannabis crime I don’t care if it’s one time or five times, it’s ridiculous,” she said.

    Read more from WHYY!

    Follow Delaware NORML on Facebook and Instagram and become a member today!

    David Phipps, Communications Director, Indiana NORML

    “You’re going to be shocked,” says David Phipps, the communications director for the Indiana chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, when asked for a prediction. “I think we have a realistic chance, as long as we do a good job with the summer study, educating our legislators on the truth behind this. I think we can get it as early as the next General Assembly.”

    Read more from the Indianapolis Monthly!

    Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Abner Brown, Executive Director, North Carolina NORML

    Now the head of North Carolina National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, he and others are touring the Tar Heel State, talking with residents and hoping to see cannabis legalized in 2019. Brown said the group will be working in 2018, ahead of the 2019 long General Assembly session.

    Read more from WECT!

    Follow North Carolina NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jay Selthofner, Executive Director, Northern Wisconsin NORML

    “Several counties in Wisconsin could have referendums for legalizing marijuana on the ballot this fall including La Crosse, Rock, Brown, Dane, Winnebago, Racine and Marathon. Selthofner says public polling on the issue clearly indicates a shift in perception on marijuana and legalization, he says, appears inevitable.”

    Read more from WIZM Talk News!

    Follow Northwest Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jay Selthofner, Executive Director, Northern Wisconsin NORML

    “I think once we have plants in the ground and they see it’s processed just like any agricultural crop a lot of our legislators are going to look at marijuana, medical marijuana differently,”

    Read more from Fox 11 News!

    Follow Northwest Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Norma Sapp, Executive Director, Oklahoma NORML

    Norma Sapp of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws remains optimistic. “Yes it’s going to be close. And we knew that going into it.  But it’s not impossible.  It depends on how fast they count the signatures,” Sapp said.

    Read more from News 9!

    Follow Oklahoma NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Tom McCain, Executive Director, Peachtree NORML

    “This story went worldwide. The family collected more than $60,000 in donations on their GoFundMe page,” said Tom McCain, executive director of Peachtree NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). “It changed their lives. Whether it has any effect on changing Georgia laws, I doubt it.”

    Read more from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution!

    Follow Peachtree NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

    If Wisconsinites don’t vote pro-cannabis candidates into office, Marsch says, legalization is unlikely to happen anytime soon. “When we talk to people now, they say, ‘It’s coming soon, we’re going to get there,’” Marsch says. “But we’re only going to ‘get there’ if people push for it. It’s not just going to happen on its own.”

    Read more from the Shepherd Express!

    Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, the Executive Director of the marijuana advocacy group Virginia NORML, applauded Kaine’s support for the bill. “Virginia NORML is thrilled that Senator Kaine has joined Congressmen Garrett and Taylor in calling for the end to federal marijuana prohibition. Senator Kaine is clearly listening to his constituents. He’s heard their stories, he’s seen the data, and now he’s taking action,” she said in a statement.

    Read more from WHSV!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jack Porcari, Board Member, Western New York NORML

    Legalizing marijuana could lower costs for the transport and sale of medical marijuana, he said. It could also legalize other ways of ingesting medical marijuana, like a gummy form of the drug, he said. “This is a big deal,” said Porcari, an organizer for the Western New York chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “It’s finally coming to fruition.”

    Read more from The Buffalo News!

    Follow Western New York NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    For over 45 years NORML chapters have been leading marijuana law reform conversations and continue to be the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please reach out to chapters@norml.org for help starting your own!

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate July 27, 2018

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

    We’ve got a new piece of legislation at the federal level. In conjunction with NORML’s 2018 Lobby Day, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) introduced The Marijuana Data Collection Act. The act calls upon the National Academy of Sciences to collect and synthesize relevant data and to generate a formal report to Congress quantifying the impact of statewide marijuana legalization on matters specific to public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues. The report would also outline best practices for state-led data collection, as well as recommendations to overcome any barriers preventing data collection and gaps in data. Watch the press conference.

    Earlier in the week, the US House Rules Committee led by prohibitionist Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) blocked two amendments related to marijuana from receiving consideration by the full House, thus ending their consideration and silencing the ability for the lower chamber to offer protections from the DOJ when it comes to cannabis. The amendments included allowing the District of Columbia to implement adult-use sales program, originally passed by voters in 2014, and protections for banks to provide services to marijuana businesses.

    At the state level, New Jersey’s state Attorney General has called on county and municipal prosecutors to suspend all marijuana-related prosecutions until early September. Also, a fiscal report issued by Pennsylvania’s Auditor General estimates that taxing Pennsylvania’s existing retail cannabis market would yield $581 million in new annual revenue. The report estimates that just under 800,000 Pennsylvanians are currently using cannabis. On that note, Pennsylvania dispensaries are set to begin selling medical cannabis in flower form this week.

    Oklahoma’s secretary of state said that proposed marijuana legalization and medical cannabis expansion initiatives are unlikely to appear on the November ballot even if they do collect enough signatures. But regulators will meet on August 1 to revisit widely criticized restrictive medical cannabis rules. The newly proposed changes eliminate several restrictive amendments enacted by the Department earlier this month, including removing the ban on the retail sale of herbal cannabis, eliminating the requirement that dispensaries hire state-licensed pharmacists, and no longer mandating that women of childbearing age undergo a pregnancy test prior to receiving a medical cannabis recommendation. No such restrictions initially appeared in the voter approved State Question 788. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that lawmakers will go into special session to deal with medical marijuana implementation.

    At a more local level, the Marathon County, Wisconsin Board voted to place a medical cannabis advisory question on the November ballot. The Ostego County, Michigan Board of Commissioners voted to oppose the state’s marijuana legalization ballot measure, and the Grand Rapids, Michigan City Commission voted to allow medical cannabis businesses in its jurisdiction.

    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 Cannabis Criminalization: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

    Click here to e-mail your senators and urge them to support this important legislation

    California

    Assembly Bill 1793 seeks “to 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: AB 1793 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 8/6 at 10am in the John L. Burton Hearing Room.

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

    Kentucky

    House Bill 166 seeks to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions.

    Update: Rep. Jason Nemes, one of the bill’s cosponsors, announced on Twitter that the bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on 9/7.

    KY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical cannabis access

    That’s all for this week!

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director July 26, 2018

    During a press conference in Boston earlier today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his hostility to marijuana reform and doubled down yet again on his tired, fear-mongering talking point regarding it being sold at every street corner.

    “Personally my view is that the American republic will not be better if there are marijuana sales on every street corner,” said Sessions.

    He seems to tiptoe the line in a response to a reporter’s question, saying, “but states have a right to set their own laws and will do so,” but concluded his comments by stating “but we’ll follow the federal law,” – meaning complete prohibition and criminalization.

    Send a message to your member of Congress and tell them to stop Jeff Sessions. 

    Earlier this year, Sessions had rescinded an Obama-era guidance policy, known as The Cole Memo, which directed the Department of Justice’s hands-off policy towards state-legal cannabis regulatory programs, licensed businesses, and their consumers.

    During a Q and A with reporters in Richmond, VA in March of 2017, Jeff Sessions said, “The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,”

    Additionally in 2017, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) issued a letter to the new U.S. Attorney General and to Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin calling on them to uphold the largely ‘hands off’ policies toward marijuana legalization, as outlined in the Cole Memo. “Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

    Currently, medical marijuana protections are still in effect, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. This amendment 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.”

    At a time when the majority of states now are regulating marijuana use in some form, and when over two-thirds of voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or moral perspective for Attorney General Sessions to take this step. It is time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and to end the needless criminalization of marijuana — a policy failure that encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.

    Send a message to your member of Congress and tell them to stop Jeff Sessions. 

    If the Trump administration goes through with a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana, they will be taking billions of dollars away from regulated, state-sanctioned businesses and putting that money back into the hands of drug cartels, while forcing consumers to go back to the black market.

  • by Matthew Bratcher, Executive Director, KY NORML

    There will be an educational forum on the benefits that medicinal cannabis has to offer to Kentucky and its citizens. Featuring support from state cannabis activists including members from Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC), Kentucky affiliate for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (KY NORML), Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana (KY4MM), the Alliance for Innovative Medicine (AIM), as well as Industry Expert, Ashly Taylor, and Matthew Daley, State Director for the Office of Secretary of State.

    This will be a good opportunity for members of the community to come out and learn more about cannabis, how cannabis affects our bodies, how a regulated industry would look like in Kentucky, and how cannabis affects our communities.

    What: Community Cannabis Educational Forum
    Where: The Preston Art Center, 2660 South Green Street, Henderson, KY 42420
    When: July 31st, 2018 7 pm – 9 pm. Doors Open at 6:30 pm

    KY NORML‘s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to influence legislators for the expansion of our hemp industry, implementation of medicinal cannabis, and laying the foundation for responsible adult use.

    To support KY NORML you can DONATE HERE! Your donations help pay the bills and allow us to function and continue to make a difference in our state! Can you kick in $5$10 or $20 to help us keep going?

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