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Legislative Update

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate March 9, 2018

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

    First, I want to bring your attention to the dedicated activists lobbying in conjunction with Delaware NORML! Activists in Delaware lobbied state lawmakers in the capital on Thursday 3/8 in favor of a bill that would legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of adult use marijuana.

    Also at the state level, voter support is growing for a proposed adult use ballot initiative in Michigan, as a recent poll found that 61 percent of voters say they would vote yes on the measure “if the election were held today.” Marijuana law reform advocates are continuing to gather signatures for voter-initiated efforts in Missouri and Utah. Proponents of a medical marijuana initiative in South Dakota have turned in their signatures and are awaiting a review by the Secretary of State’s office.

    Additionally, New Jersey legislators heard testimony on legalization on Monday. And, Massachusetts marijuana regulators took another step towards the opening of retail cannabis shops, as they approved draft marijuana rules governing the industry and will begin accepting applications for retail outlets on April 1. It is still their intent to open adult use dispensary doors this summer.

    Several marijuana related legislation died this week after failing to be voted on before crossover deadlines, including legalization and decriminalization bills in Hawaii. Florida and Washington state legislatures adjourned for this year, effectively killing FL decriminalization and patient protection efforts, and a WA bill to provide financial services to marijuana businesses.

    At a more local level, the District Attorney’s Office for Sonoma County, California is directing staff to review and vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions. County officials estimate that approximately 3,000 cases are eligible for either a sentencing reduction or expungement. And, police in Juneau, Alaska announced that marijuana businesses can now transport product by airplane.

    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 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

    Rhode Island

    Rep. Scott Slater (D) has introduced legislation, HB 7883, to place a non-binding marijuana legalization question on the state’s November ballot.

    The proposal question would read: “Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”

    RI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters weigh in

    Illinois

    Legislation is pending, SB 2275, to place a non-binding marijuana legalization question on the state’s November ballot.

    The question posed to voters would read: “Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

    Update: SB 2275 passed the Senate by a 37-13 vote on 3/1, and now awaits action from the House.

    IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to let the people have a say

    Maine

    Legislation is pending, LD 1539, to greatly expand patients’ access to medical cannabis, as well as expand the pool of patients who are eligible.

    Among changes proposed by the bill: Physicians would be able, at their sole discretion, to recommend cannabis therapy to any patient for whom they think it would benefit; Caregivers would be able to manage more than five patients at one time; Regulators would increase the total number of licensed dispensaries from eight to 14.

    ME resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

    Kentucky

    House Bill 166 was introduced by Rep. John Sims Jr. [D] to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions. Additional legislation, Senate Bill 118, is also pending to allow medical marijuana use in the Commonwealth.

    If passed, these bills would provide patients with regulated access to medical cannabis via licensed providers.

    Update: The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on HB 166 on 3/6, and then decided to  table the bill for this session as a result of strong opposition from law enforcement. SB 118 is still awaiting action from the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection Committee.

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

    Tennessee

    Senator Sara Kyle (D) 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?”

    Update: HB 2391 was placed on the Local Government subcommittee calendar for 3/14/18. SB 2320 was put on the final calendar for The Senate State & Local Government Committee, date TBD.

    TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters decide

    State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) are sponsoring legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program.

    The measure permits qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

    Update: HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/14. SB 1710 is still awaiting action from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

    New York

    Legislation is pending, A 9945, to expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana.

    The measure waives administrative fees for patients who are veterans and/or who have been ‘honorably discharged’ from military service.

    NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of better access for veterans

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    New Jersey

    Legislation is pending, A3535, that would limit certain employers from discriminating against employees based solely upon their testing positive for marijuana on a drug test.

    The bill “prohibits businesses receiving financial assistance from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority from taking any adverse employment action against an employee or prospective employee based upon a finding that the employee or prospective employee has used or tested positive for the use of marijuana” off the job.

    NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment protections for consumers

    Rhode Island

    Legislation is pending, H 7899, to protect state-registered medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

    The measure reads: “It shall be unlawful for any employer to refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against a person with respect to any terms, conditions or privileges of employment, or any other matter directly or indirectly related to employment because of their status as a cardholder, including because of a positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless the patient cardholder possessed marijuana or was impaired on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment.”

    RI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment protections for patients

    Indiana

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 52, to legalize the possession, use, manufacture, and retail sale of cannabidiol products.

    Update: HB 1214 was passed by the Senate by a 37-12 vote with amendments on 3/6, and now will be sent back to the House for approval. The House dissented from the Senate’s amendments on HB 1214 on 3/7, meaning they do not agree with the Senate’s proposed changes. A conference committee of two members from each house were appointed to work out a version of the bill that will be satisfactory to both houses.

    IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

    Idaho

    Legislation is pending, HB 410, to provide “for the lawful use and possession of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD), if prescribed by a (licensed) practitioner.” Similar legislation, HB 577, is also pending, and already passed the House last month.

    Update: Members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved a motion to hold HB 577 in committee on 3/5 — a legislative procedure essentially halting the bill from moving forward. They then voted on 3/6 to vacate the decision to halt HB 577 from moving forward because the motion violated procedure.

    ID resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

    Oklahoma

    Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens has introduced HB 2913: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. If passed, this bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes.

    Update: HB 2913 passed the House by a 92-0 vote on 3/5, and now awaits action in the Senate.

    OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

    Kansas

    Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program. It already passed the Senate last month.

    Update: The House Committee on Agriculture is holding a hearing on SB 263 on Wednesday, 3/14 at 3:30pm in Room 582-N.

    KS resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

    Indiana

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1137 to authorize the Indiana state department of agriculture to establish an agricultural pilot program to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp and industrial hemp products.

    Update: Senate lawmakers decided on a voice vote on 3/2 to significantly amend HB 1137. As amended, farmers would no longer have the opportunity to grow hemp. Instead, lawmakers have suggested a summer study session to consider the prospect of moving forward with a hemp research program. The changes came after Gov. Eric Holcolm voiced his opposition to the bill.

    Then, the bill was passed by the Senate 43 to 6, and was sent back to the House to approve the amendments. The House filed a motion to dissent on 3/7, meaning they do not agree with the Senate’s amendments to HB 1137. Now, a conference committee of two members from each house were appointed to work out a version of the bill that will be satisfactory to both houses.

    IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp research

    Missouri

    Legislation is pending, SB 547 and HB 2034, seeking to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp.

    If passed, the bills would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.

    Update: The Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee approved SB 547 on 3/6, and is scheduled to be considered before the full Senate on 3/12.

    MO resident? Click here to email your Senators in support of industrial hemp modifications

    Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate March 2, 2018

    Welcome to the March 2nd edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    First, I want to bring your attention to the dedicated activists lobbying in conjunction with Arizona NORML! Activists in Arizona lobbied state lawmakers in the capital on Monday 2/26 in favor of a bill that would require testing for potency and health and safety as well as certifications for independent testing labs.

    Also at the state level, Massachusetts regulators agreed to delay considering proposed rules allowing marijuana social use areas and delivery services until a later date after receiving intense pressure over those license categories from state officials. But they also decided that when the Cannabis Control Commission does authorize the services, initial licenses will only be available to people with past drug convictions or who live in neighborhoods with high drug arrest rates. The commission also agreed to place caps on marijuana farmers and determined a threshold for how much marijuana product they have to sell.

    New Jersey lawmakers are set to begin holding hearings on marijuana legalization this month, with the first one scheduled for this Monday March 5th at noon by the Assembly Oversight Committee. On the other hand, several NJ lawmakers are still skeptical about legalization. A survey of lawmakers suggests that marijuana legalization legislation would be defeated if a vote were held now.

    On a brighter note, Arkansas regulators announced the winners of medical cannabis cultivation licenses, and Alaska raked in its biggest monthly haul in marijuana taxes, with just over $1 million collected in January. Proponents of a Missouri ballot initiative effort to legalize and regulate medical cannabis statewide reached a milestone by surpassing over 200,000 signatures, although they only needed 160,000.

    Several marijuana related legislation died this week after failing to be voted on before crossover deadlines. These include legalization and medical expansion measures in Arizona, Georgia, West Virginia, and Kansas.

    At a more local level, Denver, CO approved its first social use marijuana license, allowing vaping and edibles in a Lincoln Park coffee shop. Additionally, The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution supporting a state Senate bill that seeks to create a state-chartered bank that could be used by the marijuana industry.

    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 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

    New Hampshire

    The Legislature is considering HB 656, which would legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana by those 21 and 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: The House Ways and Means Committee may kill HB 656 even though it already passed the full chamber, and despite A February 2018 UNH Granite State poll finding that 56 percent of adults support the amended version of this bill. They’re having a full committee work session on 3/12 at 1pm.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization

    Maine

    Lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to amend a key provision of the state’s voter-initiated adult use marijuana law.

    Under existing law, adults may legally cultivate as many as six mature marijuana plants on their property. Lawmakers are suggesting halving this amount. NORML opposes this law change.

    To date, legislators have refused to enact provisions in the 2016 law permitting for the licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. As a result, adults may only obtain marijuana via home cultivation. Further, no data has been presented indicating that this provision is either being abused or that home-cultivated marijuana is being diverted into the criminal market.

    Other changes recommended by lawmakers include: banning any social use establishments and significantly increasing the proposed excise tax on wholesale marijuana products.

    ME resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to oppose this effort and implement the will of the people

    Tennessee

    State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program in Tennessee.

    The measure permits qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

    Update: Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee Dr. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) signed on as co-sponsors to the Medical Cannabis Only Act on 2/26. The following day, the House Criminal Justice subcommittee voted 4-3 to approve HB 1749, with House Speaker Harwell casting the tie-breaking vote. HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/7/18. SB 1710 is still posted in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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

    Georgia

    House Bill 764 seeks to expand Georgia’s limited medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.

    The measure would permit for the first time patients with post traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain the option to engage in CBD therapy.

    Update: HB 764 passed the House by a 145-17 vote, and now awaits action in the Senate.

    GA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical CBD expansion

    Idaho

    HB 410 is pending to provide “for the lawful use and possession of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD), if prescribed by a (licensed) practitioner.” Similar legislation, HB 577 is also pending.

    Update: HB 577  passed the House by a 59-11 vote on 2/28, and now awaits action in the Senate. HB 410 is still posted in the House Health and Welfare Committee.

    ID resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

    Hawaii

    HB 1893 is pending, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence. HB 1893 was heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee on 2/15, and then approved with amendments, and passed on to the Judiciary Committee.

    Update: HB 1893 was heard by the House Judiciary committee on Thursday, and then was approved unanimously 8 to zero.

    HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

    Indiana

    House Bill 1214 is pending, further clarifying the legal status of CBD products in the state of Indiana for specific patients.

    Despite the passage last year of limited language permitting certain patients to possess CBD, law enforcement has continued to take punitive action against those providing CBD products, and some officials have continued to questioned their legality. Passage of these measures will eliminate this legal confusion and greatly expand CBD access.

    Update: HB 1214 was approved by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee after it was heard on 2/27.

    IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in favor of greater CBD access

    Maryland

    House Bill 698 seeks to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program.

    The bill would “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.”

    Update: HB 698 was approved by the House Environment and Transportation Committee with amendments on 2/26. The amendments were adopted and it passed the third reading by a 136-1 vote on 3/1.

    MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    New Hampshire

    House Bill 1476 is pending,  to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use.

    Under the state’s existing medical marijuana program, patients are mandated to obtain cannabis from only a limited number of state-licensed dispensaries. Those who cultivate for themselves may be guilty of a felony offense.

    Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 1476 by a 13-8 vote on 2/23.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of home cultivation

    Virginia

    SB 726 and HB 1251, both introduced by Republican lawmakers, would permit doctors to recommend CBD and THC-A oils to any patient they believe would benefit.

    Under present law, only a neurologist may recommend cannabis oils, and only for patients with intractable epilepsy.

    Update: HB 1251 is already on Governor Northam’s desk awaiting his signature. SB 726 passed the House 96-0 on 2/28.

    VA resident? Click here to email Gov. Northam urging him to sign these bills into law

    Alaska

    House Bill 376 was recently introduced, to establish a state bank that will help assist in financial matters related to marijuana businesses. It’s currently pending in the Labor and Commerce Committee.

    Activities of the bank would include helping “marijuana-related businesses make deposits and to help other financial institutions receive deposits from marijuana-related businesses.”

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

    Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate February 23, 2018

    Welcome to this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    First, I want to bring your attention to some of the state level lobbying efforts progressing around the country.

    Activists gathered in Denver, CO on Wednesday to try and change the conversation on employee drug testing and partner with local business. Several Denver board members and activists attended, building relationships and trust with legislators and other interest groups and lobbyists. Additionally, NORML of Florida chapters, along with Sensible Florida, Inc (the organization behind the constitutional initiative “To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol”) supporters met in Tallahassee on Tuesday to host press conferences and lobby state lawmakers in support of marijuana law reforms.

    Also at the state level, New Mexico’s state legislature has adjourned for this year, effectively killing a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana, a decriminalization bill, and one to allow doctors to recommend cannabis in place of opioids. Three Arizona bills are also dead for this year after failing to be voted on before last Friday’s crossover deadline, including one that would have put legalization on the ballot, a decriminalization bill, and one to obtain sanctuary state status for marijuana operators.

    At a more local level, officials in various parts of the country are speaking out against the Trump administration’s crackdown on marijuana. The District Attorney for Alameda County in California has announced her intent to automatically vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions. And newly elected Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner also announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offense violations. City officials in San Francisco recently announced plans to automatically expunge thousands of past marijuana possession convictions and Seattle officials have also announced a similar plan to dismiss past convictions.

    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 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

    Maryland

    Introduced by state Senator Will Smith, SB 1039 would put an amendment to the Maryland Constitution on the ballot to be decided by voters to ensure that citizens have the right to possess, smoke, and cultivate marijuana. Delegate David Moon is sponsoring the House companion, HB 1264.

    Update: SB 1039 was debated on the Senate floor on Tuesday, and HB 1264 is scheduled to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on 3/13 at 1pm.

    MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of leaving it up to the voters

    Alabama

    Senate Bill 251 and House Bill 272 reduce 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, punishable by a fine of no more than $250 — no arrest and no criminal record. However, provisions in the bills also reclassify offenses involving quantities of marijuana above one ounce as felonies.

    Update: Both bills were heard by the Judiciary Committees in their respective chambers on 2/21. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved SB 251 by a 6 to 4 vote, however, the House committee rejected HB 272 by a 7 to 5 vote. HB 272 is now dead for this session.

    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

    West Virginia

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 3035, to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana. Senate Bill 593 is also pending and would allow adults over 21 years of age to possess up to four ounces of marijuana at home and two ounces in public. They could also grow four mature cannabis plants and four seedlings.

    Update: New, similar legislation was introduced, HB 4491 to also regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana.

    WV resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization, taxation, and regulation

    Tennessee

    Earlier this year, Senator Sara Kyle (D) and Representative Larry Miller introduced legislation SB 2320 and HB 2391, seeking to place a ballot initiative before voters to let them decide on the legalization of medical marijuana.

    Update: SB 2320 was put on the final calendar for The Senate State & Local Government Committee, the date is TBD. HB 2391 was placed on the House Local Government subcommittee calendar for 2/21, but then deferred to a later date, TBD.

    TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of a medical marijuana ballot initiative

    Missouri

    New legislation is pending, HJR 86, to put the issue of depenalizing the adult use of marijuana before voters this November.

    If enacted by lawmakers, voters would decide upon the following question: “That the possession or consumption of marijuana by a person twenty-one years of age or older shall not be a criminal offense in this state.”

    MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of a depenalization ballot question

    Virginia

    SB 726 and HB 1251 are pending, seeking to expand the state’s limited medical CBD law. They both crossed over to the other chamber earlier this month.

    Update: HB 1251 was approved by the Senate 40 to zero on 2/19 and is now being transmitted to Governor Northam, who has indicated that he plans on signing the bill. Also, HB 1251 succeeded unanimously in an Adoption Emergency Vote, meaning it will go into effect immediately upon Gov. Northam’s signature.

    VA resident? Click here to email your Governor and tell him to sign HB 1251 into law

    New York

    A.8904 is pending, to permit practitioners’ discretion to recommend medical marijuana, without being limited by the existing list of qualifying conditions.

    Update: A Senate companion bill was introduced late last week, S.7755.

    NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of removing the list of qualifying conditions

    Alaska

    Legislation is pending, SB 6, to establish an agricultural pilot program to permit the cultivation, production, and sale of industrial hemp by registered providers.

    Update: SB 6 was approved by both the House and Senate and now awaits action from Governor Walker.

    AK resident? Click here to email your Governor and urge him to sign this bill into law

    Kansas

    Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program.

    Update: SB 263 was approved by the Senate by a 36-3 vote on 2/22, and it now awaits action from the House.

    KS resident? Click here to email your representatives in support of hemp research

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    Arizona

    Senate Bill 1420 seeks to enhance quality testing practices for medical marijuana products.

    If passed, the bill would improve product testing procedures and requirements. It would also lower the costs of medical marijuana registration cards from $150 to $50 for an initial application, and to $25 for subsequent annual renewals.

    Update: SB 1420 was approved by the Senate by a 27-3 vote on 2/22, and is now being transmitted to the House, where a vote is expected in the upcoming weeks.

    AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of better testing practices

    Indiana

    CBD
    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 52, to legalize the possession, use, manufacture, and retail sale of cannabidiol products.

    The law defines products containing CBD and no more than 0.3 percent THC as legal to possess and sell. Indiana citizens would no longer need to be a part of a patient registry or to be diagnosed with a qualifying condition in order to legally possess or purchase CBD products. It also provides protections so that employers may not discriminate against anyone using CBD in compliance with the law.

    Separate legislation further clarifying the legal status of CBD products in the state of Indiana for specific patients, House Bill 1214, is also pending. Both bills have already crossed over to the other chamber.

    Update: SB 52 was heard by the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee on 2/21 and was then approved by a vote of 9 to zero. HB 1214 will be heard by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee at 11am on 2/27 in Room 130.

    Hemp
    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1137 to authorize the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to establish an agricultural pilot program to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp and industrial hemp products. It was already approved by the House unanimously last month.

    Update: HB 1137 was approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce on 2/19.

    IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of greater CBD access, and click here to email them in support of hemp research.

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, HB 1477, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement.

    If passed, HB 1477 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana.

    Update: HB 1477 was considered on the House floor on 2/22, and was then approved by the House by a 314-24 vote, and will now be transmitted to the Senate.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past records

    Illinois

    Legislation is pending, SB 336, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

    Update: SB 336 is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate on 2/27.

    IL resident? Click here to email your senators in support of this effort

    Missouri

    Legislation is pending, SB 547 and HB 2034, seeking to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp. SB 547 was approved by the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee last month.

    If passed, the bills would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.

    Update: HB 2034 was initially approved by the House on 2/20.

    MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of modifying industrial hemp provisions

    Tennessee

    State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program.

    The measures permit qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

    Update: Both SB 1710 and HB 1749 were placed on the Criminal Justice Subcommittee calendar in their respective chambers for 2/27.

    TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana extract access

    Michigan

    Republican State Representative Peter Lucido introduced House Bill 4606, seeking to amend the Michigan Penal Code by removing the crime of registered medical patients traveling with marijuana. HB 4606 was already approved by the House last year.

    If passed, the bill would repeal a 2012 law that makes it illegal to transport or possess marijuana unless it’s in a container secured in the trunk of a vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a trunk, the marijuana has to be in a case that is not readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle. Violators face up to 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

    Update: HB 4606 was approved by a Senate committee on 2/22.

    MI resident? Click here to email your senators in support of removing travel restrictions for patients

    Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

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

    Valentines Day week 2018 saw a tremendous amount of activity when it came to addressing our nations failed policy of marijuana prohibition. From new federal legislation being introduced to two federal lawsuits having hearings, plus a number of members of Congress, old allies and new stepping up to demand the Trump Administration continue to allow the states that have reformed their laws be respected by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    Rick “Not Pro-Pot But Pro-Civil Liberties” Steves Went To Washington: Bestselling guidebook author and travel host Rick Steves held two briefings to address marijuana prohibition to a gathering of members of Congress and their staff. Inspired by Europe’s pragmatic approach to drug policy, with success measured by harm reduction rather than incarceration, Steves said that he is motivated to speak in favor of legalization because of its impact on civil liberties.

    “ There are so many reasons to end the prohibition on marijuana. Whether you’re concerned about the well-being of children, fairness for minority communities, redirecting money away from criminals and into state’s coffers, stemming the horrific bloodshed in Mexico, or civil liberties; it is clearly time for a new approach,” said Rick Steves. You can read more about his day at Capitol Hill here.

    New Legislation: Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) has introduced the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act which would 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 to urge them to co-sponsor the Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act. 

    Lawsuit Against Attorney General Jeff Sessions: On February 14th, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York heard oral arguments on the motion to dismiss Washington, et.al v. Sessions, et.al, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Schedule I classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. The federal government argued to have the case dismissed. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York reserved the decision.

    Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case are Michael Hiller and Lauren Rudick of Hiller, PC, and include NORML Legal Committee member Joseph Bondy and Empire State NORML Director David Holland.

    Click here to read more.

    HIA Against The DEA: A case brought forward by the Hemp Industries Association against the DEA regarding the classification of CBD had a hearing on Thursday. You can read more about that effort here.

    Banking On Mnuchin: Congressman and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus Earl Blumenauer pressed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the need for certainty for the banks that are currently providing services for legal, state-regulated marijuana businesses. You can watch the video by clicking HERE and send a message to your federal lawmakers to support the SAFE Banking Act.

    Letter To Senate Appropriators: This week, a bipartisan group of 18 Senators signed a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the powerful Appropriations Committee to demand that in the process of directing funding for the Department of Justice, the lawmakers should restrict the DoJ from being able to interfere with lawful state-regulated programs.

    The senators wrote that rescinding years of guidance has created “disruption, confusion, and uncertainty throughout the country. Citizens who have been acting in good faith based on federal and state assurances now feel exposed. This disruption may deny medications to the sick, push individuals back into illicit markets, and nullify the previously-effective regulations – all while thwarting the democratically-expressed will of the states.”

    “It is our hope that the fiscal year 2018 appropriations will alleviate the turbulence the Attorney General’s abrupt decision has caused and that the appropriations will help preserve the strong regulatory frameworks the states have created,” the senators continued. “Doing so will provide the opportunity to pursue federal legislation that both protects the legitimate federal interests at stake and respects the will of the states – both those that have liberalized their marijuana laws and those that have not.”

    The letter include U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-WV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maria Cantwell(D-WA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Edward Markey (D-MA).

    Click here to read the letter and click here to send a message to your federal officials in support of pending legislation to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. 

    New Justice Supporter: This week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York added her name as a cosponsor to The Marijuana Justice Act, making her the 3rd member of the Senate to be on the bill. Specifically S. 1689 and HR 4815 would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs. Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of the Marijuana Justice Act. 

    Additionally, Senator Cory Booker added the language of the Marijuana Justice Act as an amendment to the criminal justice bill that is moving, however, that effort was unsuccessful.

    DoJ Nominees Move Forward: Senator Gardner has backed down from his threat to the Department of Justice to block Senate-confirmable nominees after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the longstanding guidance memos including the 2013 Cole Memo.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate February 16, 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 marijuana businesses and consumers.

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

    Also, earlier this week, bestselling guidebook author and travel host Rick Steves held two briefings on Capitol Hill to address marijuana prohibition to a gathering of members of Congress and their staff. Steves serves as a member of the board of NORML and has advocated extensively in support of the successful legalization efforts in Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and his home state of Washington.

    At the state level, the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee voted unanimously to pass HB 1251, to expand the state’s medical CBD law, amended to include a new emergency enactment clause requested by Governor Ralph Northam, and will now go into effect immediately upon his signature. Enactment of this historic legislation would make Virginia the first state with a hyper-restrictive program to adopt such a broad expansion.

    Also, Pennsylvania medical cannabis sales began on Thursday as the state’s first dispensary opened its doors.

    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 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

    Connecticut

    Democratic Representative James Albis, along with over 20 co-sponsors, has introduced legislation — HB 5112 and HB 5111 — to regulate and tax the retail sale of marijuana to adults.

    The tax revenue raised by commercial retail sales would be used to fund substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs.

    CT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization

    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.”

    Update: Similar legislation has also been introduced to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana, House Bill 4491.

    WV resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization

    New Mexico

    Legislation is pending, HM 67 and SM 55, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

    Update: HM 67 was approved unanimously by the House, and SM 55 was approved by the Senate with a 36-1 vote.

    NM resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

    Arizona

    Legislation is pending, HCR2037, to put the issue of legalizing the adult use of marijuana before voters this November.

    The resolution seeks to place a question on the 2018 ballot regarding the adult use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis.

    AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to leave it up to the voters

    Maryland

    Legislation is pending, HB 268 and SB 181, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    Update: A hearing was held on February 15 on SB 181.

    MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

    Hawaii

    Legislation is pending, HB 1893, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    Update: HB 1893 was heard by the Health and Human Services Committee on February 15.

    HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

    Additional Actions to Take

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, HB 1477, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement.

    If passed, HB 1477 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana.

    Update: HB 1477 was approved by The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee by a vote of 14-4.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past marijuana convictions

    Colorado

    Newly proposed legislation, The Marijuana Consumer Employment Discrimination Protection Bill, seeks to protect medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

    This bill would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test. It would also require employers to provide objective evidence that an employee is unable to perform their job adequately because of marijuana use prior to taking any punitive action.

    CO resident?  Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment protections for patients

    Alaska

    Senator Tom Begich has introduced legislation, SB 184, to seal the convictions of past marijuana possession offenders.

    Senate Bill 184 prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill’s intent is to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal under today’s laws, and to make it more likely that people convicted of only low-level crimes will become contributing members of society.

    AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of sealing past marijuana convictions

    Maryland

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 698 to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program.

    The bill seeks to “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.”

    Update: A hearing was held for HB 698 on February 14.

    MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the industrial hemp program

    Utah

    Legislation is pending, 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.

    Update: HB197 was passed by the House by a vote of 38-32 on February 13, after it died on a narrow vote last week and was resurrected on Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

    UT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

    Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

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