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Policy

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director April 24, 2017

    doctor_marijuanaSince 2014, the Department of Justice has been prohibited from using taxpayers’ funds to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states that regulate its medical use.

    But that could all change this week as Congress decides how to fund the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year. 

    At issue is a provision known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which maintains that federal funds can not be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” In December, Congress re-authorized the amendment as part of a short term spending package through April 28, 2017, at which time the budget — and the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment — will expire.

    With anti-cannabis zealot Jeff Sessions now heading the Department of Justice, we can’t leave patients across the country and those who supply their medicine vulnerable to a federal crackdown on medical marijuana.

    We NEED you to send a message to your member of Congress RIGHT NOW to support medical marijuana patients! 

    Over 90% of all Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana, according to nationwide polling data published last week. Further, 73 percent of voters oppose federal interference in states that regulate its use. Let’s ensure that these programs and the millions of patients who rely upon them are protected. 

    Tell your member of Congress to get this right. Demand that they protect patients from Jeff Sessions and his Department of Justice. 

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 20, 2017

    Legalize marijuanaMore than six in ten Americans believe that the social use of marijuana should be legal for adults, according to nationwide polling data provided by CBS News.

    The percentage marks a significant increase since 2013, when only 45 percent of respondents endorsed legalization, and it is among the highest levels of public support ever reported in a national poll. Only a majority of those respondents over the age of 65 did not support legalization.

    Pollsters also reported that 88 percent of US adults support regulating the use of medical marijuana, and that 71 percent of Americans — including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — oppose efforts on the part of the federal government to interfere in state’s that have legalized the plant’s distribution and use. The percentage represents a blowback to the Trump administration, which in February threatened “greater enforcement” of federal anti-marijuana laws in states that have legalized its adult use.

    Fifty-three percent of respondents said that they believe alcohol to be more harmful than cannabis, and a majority of those under the age of 65 acknowledged having used it.

    The CBS News poll possesses a margin of error of +/- four percent.

    [Update: A nationwide Quinnipiac University poll, also released this week, reports similar levels of public support. It reports that 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, the highest level of support ever reported by the polling firm. It further reported that voters oppose, by a margin of 73 percent to 21 percent. government enforcement of federal anti-cannabis laws in states that have legalized the medical or recreational use of marijuana.]

  • by NORML April 3, 2017

    Did you catch it? On Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver skewered our nation’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition addressing topics ranging from a potential crackdown from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the newly formed Cannabis Caucus, and the desperate need for federal marijuana law reform.

    “There is now a Cannabis Caucus in DC… and if even an 83 year old Republican from Alaska has come around on this issue, then it is probably time for our laws to catch up” Oliver said

    Since it’s launch in February, members of the Cannabis Caucus have lead the way in the fight for sensible marijuana policy by introducing a number of bills that would end federal prohibition and support states efforts to set up regulated markets for medical and responsible adult-use.

    Click here to tell your member of Congress to join the Cannabis Caucus and push for sensible marijuana policy.

    Now, more than ever, it is time for Congress to take action. Jeff Sessions recently said “I’m definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana. States, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.” 

    Well, Congress can change that. 

    Email your member of Congress to join the Cannabis Caucus. 

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to send your Representative a message. The only way that Congress will listen is if we speak up loudly and clearly.

    Together, we WILL legalize marijuana. 

    Thanks for all you do,

    The NORML Team

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director April 1, 2017

    revolutionbumperWelcome to this week’s edition of the NORML legislative roundup!

    Happy April Fools Day – unfortunately I have no light-hearted gag for you today as marijuana prohibition is still very much in effect with thousands of people a week arrested throughout the country for mere possession of the plant.

    Nationwide, we have topped 1,600+ bills being filed throughout the country pertaining to marijuana. From new efforts in the Senate to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to tax and regulate marijuana to tax reform that would treat marijuana businesses just like every other industry through 280E reform, a new found pressure is now felt for reform on Capitol Hill.

    At the state level, we have seen a range from legislative progress on social clubs in Colorado to the prohibitionists on the verge of a victory on rolling back local progress in Tennessee on decriminalization.

    Below 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.

    Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
    Justin

    Priority Alerts

    Federal
    Regulate and Tax: Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis have introduced legislation in the House and Senate — The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act — (SB 776 and HB 1841 / HB 1823) to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference. In addition to removing marijuana from the United States Controlled Substances Act, this legislation also removes enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matter concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales — thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit. An additional excise tax would be levied on the sale of marijuana.  

    Click here to email your federal elected officials to support this effort.

    Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

    Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the newly formed Cannabis Caucus

    Colorado
    Colorado State Senator Bob Gardner and Representative Dan Pabon have introduced legislation, SB 184, The Marijuana Membership Clubs and Public Use Bill, will provide Colorado municipalities with the regulatory framework needed to allow responsible adults the option to socially consume marijuana in a membership club away from the general public.

    Update: The House Second Reading for SB 184 was laid over to 4/03.

    CO Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Delaware
    Legislation, HB 110, has been officially filed and introduced to regulate the adult use and sale of marijuana on March 30.  

    Senator Henry, the author of the state’s medical marijuana legislation said at a recent Medical Marijuana Act Oversight Committee meeting, “Education is suffering. Revenue from legalizing marijuana could help struggling schools and seniors, among other causes and close major budget deficits in Delaware.” The legislation is expected to be introduced in January.

    According to recent polling data compiled by the University of Delaware, sixty-one percent of state voters favor legalizing marijuana.

    DE Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Rhode Island
    A coalition of Rhode Island lawmakers has reintroduced marijuana legalization legislation in the House, H. 5555: The Adult Use of Cannabis Act

    The bill will allow adults 21 and older to possess cannabis and will establish a framework for businesses to cultivate and distribute marijuana. While the language is similar to that of previous bills that have failed to come to a vote, lawmakers this year believe that Rhode Island is ready to catch up to its northeast neighbors.

    Update: House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s office says it is unlikely that the legislations would get a floor vote in the House.

    RI Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Tennessee
    Legislation is before the Governor, HB 173, to nullify the enactment of citywide marijuana decriminalization ordinances and to prevent additional municipalities from enacting similar marijuana reform measures.

    The intent of the bill is to override the passage of recent citywide measures in Nashville and Memphis — both of which passed local ordinances last year making minor marijuana possession offenses a non-arrestable citation.

    By contrast, state law classifies marijuana possession as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a criminal record.

    Update: Members of the Senate passed HB 173 on March 28. It now goes to the Governor.

    TN Resident? Click here to tell Governor Haslam to veto this measure.

    West Virginia
    A coalition of Senate lawmakers have introduced legislation, SB 386, which seeks to establish the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act — a state-sponsored program that will permit qualified patients to obtain medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries. A House version of the bill, HB 2677, is also pending.

    Passage of the bill establishes a commission tasked with developing “policies, procedures, guidelines, and regulations to implement programs to make medical cannabis available to qualifying patients in a safe and effective manner.”

    Update: SB 383 passed the senate by a vote of 28-6 and will now head to the House.

    WV Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Other Actions To Take

    Federal
    The Small Business Tax Equity Act (SB 777 and HB 1810) is pending in the House and Senate to amend the federal tax code so that state-licensed, marijuana-related businesses are no longer unduly penalized by federal laws. NORML supports these legislative efforts.

    These measures amend Section 280E of the Federal Income Tax Code so that state-compliant marijuana operators for the first time can take business deductions for standard expenses such as rent and employee compensation and benefits — just like other legally licensed business entities.

    According to a 2017 report, over 120,000 workers are now employed full time in the legal cannabis industry. Allowing deductions for rent and employee costs would help these businesses grow economically and would provide incentives for hiring additional employees.

    Click here to email your federal elected officials to support this effort.

    Arkansas
    House Bill 1580 imposes a special eight percent statewide tax upon medical marijuana sales. This tax would be in addition to the imposition of existing state and local taxes.

    While NORML generally does not oppose the imposition of fair and reasonable sales taxes on the commercial sales of cannabis for recreational purposes, we do not support such excessive taxation on medical sales. Most other states that regulate medical cannabis sales do not impose such taxes and Arkansas patients should not be forced to pay these excessive costs.

    Update: HB 1580 was returned by the Senate committee, with recommendation that it Do Pass.

    AR Resident? Email your elected officials to oppose this effort.

    California
    Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws.

    The bill states, “This bill would prohibit a state or local agency, as defined, from taking certain actions without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”

    The majority of Californians desire a legally regulated marijuana market. Passage of this act will limit state or local agencies from working with the federal government to undermine these regulations.

    CA Resident? Email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Colorado
    State officials in Colorado are considering legislation, SB 192, to protect the state’s adult use marijuana industry in case of a potential federal crackdown.

    The bill would permit adult use growers and sellers to instantly reclassify their recreational marijuana inventory as medical marijuana “based on a business need due to a change in local, state, or federal law or enforcement policy.” In recent weeks, officials from the Trump administration have indicated that they may consider taking action against recreational marijuana providers, but that they will not likely move against state-licensed medical marijuana providers.

    Update: The bill passed 4-1 committee in the Republican Senate

    CO Resident? Email your elected officials to support this effort.

    New York
    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1087, to expand the state’s medical marijuana law by removing the existing prohibition on herbal cannabis preparations.

    Under existing law, qualified patients are forbidden from obtaining whole-plant cannabis. Instead, they are required to access only cannabis-infused oral products such as oils, pills, or extracts prepared from the plant. “Smoking” or inhaling herbal cannabis is not defined as a “certified medical use.”

    These restrictions unnecessarily limit patients’ choices and deny them the ability to obtain rapid relief from whole-plant cannabis in a manner that has long proven to be relatively safe and effective.

    Senate Bill 1087 amends the law so that the possession and inhalation of herbal cannabis is no longer illegal.

    NY Resident? Email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Oregon
    Legislation is pending in the Senate, SB 863, to limit the federal government from acquiring data regarding adults and patients who legally purchase marijuana under state law.

    The emergency legislation, which would take immediate effect, mandates that retailers and dispensaries do not maintain customers’ purchase and/or personal identification records beyond 48 hours.

    Sponsors of the bipartisan measure say the privacy protections are in response to recent statements by the Trump administration with regard to a possible enforcement crackdown in adult use marijuana states.

    Update: SB 863 cleared the Senate and is now headed to the House.

    OR Resident? Email your elected officials to support this effort.

    Texas
    State Senator Jose Menendez has filed Senate Bill 269, currently making its way through committee, to protect qualified patients who consume cannabis and to provide for the state-licensed production and distribution of the plant.

    Update: A bipartisan House version of SB269 to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Texas has just been introduced by Representative Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, titled HB 2107.

    TX Resident? Click here to email your officials in support of this effort.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director March 17, 2017

    revolutionbumperWelcome to this week’s edition of the NORML legislative roundup!

    First and foremost, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Fun fact, marijuana is still safer than alcohol. You can read more about it in Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? co-authored by NORML’s own Paul Armentano.

    This week we saw “legislative crossover” days dash the hopes of advancement in both Kentucky and Iowa. Additionally, the New Hampshire Senate defeated a legalization effort there, yet we are confident that this is the year when the Granite State finally decriminalizes marijuana.

    If you missed it, our monthly national chapter call had updates from Colorado, Delaware, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Washington state on their recent lobbying efforts. You can read more in calls report by clicking here.

    The Washington City Paper published a great piece entitled Pot: A Political History which does a wonderful job of giving context to the struggles that we face today after 80 years of marijuana prohibition.

    Below 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.

    Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
    Justin

    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 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 email your Congressional Representative to urge them to support this crucial legislation.

    Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

    Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the newly formed Cannabis Caucus

    Colorado
    Colorado State Senator Bob Gardner and Representative Dan Pabon have introduced legislation, SB 184, The Marijuana Membership Clubs and Public Use Bill, will provide Colorado municipalities with the regulatory framework needed to allow responsible adults the option to socially consume marijuana in a membership club away from the general public.

    Update: SB 184 passed the full Senate on Thursday, March 9, by a vote of 25-10 and will now be sent to the House. Gov. Hickenlooper has threatened a veto, saying he opposes any expansion of indoor smoking.

    CO Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Connecticut
    Multiple pieces of legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate its commercial distribution is pending in both the state House and Senate.

    Update: Lawmakers have scheduled a pair of hearings in March to debate these various legalization proposals. Members of the Public Health Committee heard testimony on Tuesday, March 7. Members of the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on Wednesday, March 22.

    CT Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    New Mexico
    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 258, to reduce penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses.

    The measure eliminates criminal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one-half of one ounce of cannabis, reducing the offense to a $50 fine. Under present law, this offense is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 15 days in jail and criminal record.

    Update: Members of the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee passed SB 258 on March 14. It must still pass through one additional committee prior to receiving a House floor vote.

    NM Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Tennessee
    Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, are sponsoring the legislature’s most concerted effort to legalize medical use of marijuana.

    Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine.

    Update: SB 860 was placed on the calendar of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee for March 14 and HB 673 was deferred in Senate Judiciary Committee to March 28.

    TN Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Additional Actions To Take

    Kansas
    Legislation is pending, House Bill 2152, to permit qualified patients access to marijuana or extracts containing CBD and low levels of THC.

    The measure would permit patients with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder or a condition causing seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, to possess marijuana or extracts containing no more than three percent THC. The measure also seeks to establish rules governing the state-licensed cultivation of low-THC marijuana strains and the preparation of products derived from such strains.

    Update: Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee heard the bill on Wednesday, Match 15 at 1:30pm, Room 546-S.

    KS Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Maine
    Legislation is pending, LD 1064, to require health insurance policies to cover expenses related to the physician authorized use of medical cannabis.

    The measure states, “A carrier offering a health plan in this State shall provide coverage for marijuana for  medical use for an enrollee who has received certification for the medical use of marijuana from a medical provider.”

    ME Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Maryland
    House and Senate legislation is pending to allow those with past criminal marijuana convictions to have those records expunged.

    House Bill 379 / Senate Bill 949 permit those who received a criminal marijuana possession conviction prior to October 1, 2014, to seek expungement of their records.

    Update: Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee passed SB 949 on March 9.

    MD Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Massachusetts
    Legislation is pending before the House, H 113, to prohibit employers from discriminating against patients who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours. Additional legislation, H 2385, would expand protections for medical marijuana patients so that they may not be discriminated against with regard to housing, higher education, and child custody issues.  

    Changes in the legal status of marijuana has not been associated with any adverse changes in workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that legalization is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

    It is time to end this discriminatory policy.

    MA Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Montana
    House Bill 529 imposes a special six percent statewide tax upon medical marijuana sales. This tax would be in addition to the imposition of existing state and local taxes.

    While NORML generally does not oppose the imposition of fair and reasonable sales taxes on the commercial sales of cannabis for recreational purposes, we do not support such excessive taxation on medical sales. Most other states that regulate medical cannabis sales do not impose such taxes and Montana patients should not be forced to pay these excessive costs.

    Update: Members of the House Taxation Committee heard testimony on the bill on March 15. Most witnesses testified against the bill.

    MT Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to oppose this effort.

    New Mexico
    Governor Susana Martinez has vetoed House Bill 144, which sought to establish a hemp research program in compliance with provisions in the federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to engage in licensed activity involving hemp absent federal reclassification of the plant. The Governor provided no public explanation for the veto.

    The bill has previously passed the House and Senate by votes of 42 to 26 and 30 to 12 respectively.

    Update: Lawmakers have introduced a third hemp research bill, House Bill 530. This bill was passed by the House on March 14 by a vote of 65 to 1, and now awaits senate action.

    NM Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Oklahoma
    Legislation has been introduced, Senate Bill 704, to provide for hemp cultivation and manufacturing.

    The measure excludes industrial hemp from the state’s definition of marijuana and provides for its commercial cultivation and export.

    The measure also expands the list of qualifying conditions eligible for CBD treatment under state law. Under this change, patients with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety would be eligible for medicinal cannabis products as long as those formulations are in liquid form and do not exceed 12 percent THC.

    OK Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    Tennessee
    SB 1116 seeks to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

    Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine.

    Update: SB 1116 has a hearing scheduled for March 28.

    TN Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

    West Virginia
    Legislation by Delegate Hornbuckle of Cabell, House Bill 3035, to legalize and regulate the adult use, production, and sale of marijuana is before members of the House Health and human Resources Committee.

    House Bill 3035, allows adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and to cultivate up to six cannabis plants for their own personal use. It also regulates the commercial marijuana market and allows for the production of industrial hemp.

    WV Resident? Click here to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

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