Loading

NORML Blog

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator February 14, 2017

    mj_salesThe fact that 190 million Americans now live in states where marijuana has been legalized to some degree is raising a number of questions and issues about how to integrate the American workforce and marijuana consumers rights in regards to drug testing. With medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana for adult use in 8 states and Washington DC, millions of responsible and otherwise law-abiding adults remain at risk of being excluded from the workforce due to a positive drug test — even where the use does not affect an individual’s job performance or has taken place days or weeks prior to the test.

    NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. As a result, a growing coalition of NORML Chapters in California, Oregon, Colorado and Washington have come together to advocate for necessary legislative and workplace reforms to protect responsible marijuana consumers.

    NORML’s Workplace Drug Testing Coalition’s efforts will focus on these four areas:

    1. Reform workplace drug testing policies
    2. Expand employment opportunities for marijuana consumers
    3. Clarify the difference between detection technology and performance testing
    4. Highlight off-duty state law legal protections for employees

    “Even though marijuana is legal and readily available in several states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML. “That is why many NORML chapters active in legal states are now shifting their attention to protecting honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from these sort of antiquated, discriminatory workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random suspicionless urine testing.”

    Employer testing of applicants or employees for trace metabolites (inert waste-products) of past use of a legal substance makes no sense in the 21st century.  This activity is particularly discriminatory in the case of marijuana where such metabolites may be detectable for weeks or even months after the consumer has ceased use.

    With the 2017 Legislative Session underway, this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. Legislation has already been introduced in Oregon and Washington, and is gaining traction in those states.

    “Random suspicionless drug testing of applicants or employees for past marijuana use is not just unfair and discriminatory, it’s bad for business,” said attorney Judd Golden of Boulder, Colorado, a long-time NORML activist and Coalition spokesperson. The modern workforce includes countless qualified people like Brandon Coats of Colorado, a paraplegic medical marijuana patient who never was impaired on the job and had an unblemished work record. Brandon was fired from a Fortune 500 company after a random drug test, and lost his case in the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. The Court unfortunately found Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities law that protects employees for legal activities on their own time didn’t apply to marijuana use.

    California NORML is also expecting legislation to be introduced this session to address this issue. Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML said, “One of the most frequently asked questions we have been getting since Prop. 64 passed legalizing adult marijuana use in California last November is, ‘Am I now protected against drug testing on my job?’ Sadly in our state, not even medical marijuana patients are protected against job discrimination, and it’s a priority of Cal NORML to change that. We are hoping to get a bill introduced at the state level and are working with legislators, unions, and other reform groups to make that happen.”

    NORML Chapters across the country are advocating on behalf of the rights of responsible marijuana consumers against discrimination in the workplace. “Our coalition was formed with the intention of not only educating legislators, but also with businesses in mind.  It is important they know testing for marijuana is not mandatory, and that employers have testing options,” said Jordan Person, executive director for Denver NORML. The Denver chapter is currently working with companies that offer performance impairment testing of workers suspected of on-the-job impairment or use rather than unreliable bodily fluid testing to help provide options for employers.

    thumbs_upFor decades drug testing companies and others have pushed their agenda through a campaign of misinformation. Until now there has never been an organized effort to challenge the profit- driven ideology of those who seek to benefit from intrusive drug screening. Mounting evidence continues to prove there is no logical reason why adult marijuana consumers should be treated with any less respect, restricted more severely, and denied the same privileges we extend to responsible adults who enjoy a casual cocktail after a long day at the office.

    For legal questions, please contact Coalition spokesperson Judd Golden at juddgolden@outlook.com. For other marijuana related questions or an interview, please contact Kevin Mahmalji at kevinm@norml.org.

  • by NORML

    chapter_spotlightThe four-year feud between Iowa State University (ISU) and the student group NORML ISU has finally concluded with a victory for the marijuana reform advocacy group.

    The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled in favor of NORML ISU right to use a marijuana leaf and the logo of the school on their promotional items.

    Here is the background as written in the Washington Post by Eugene Volokh:

    NORML ISU at first got permission from the Trademark Office to use a T-shirt “that had ‘NORML ISU’ on the front with the ‘O’ represented by Cy the Cardinal,” with “Freedom is NORML at ISU” and a cannabis leaf depicted on the back. But after a Des Moines Register article mentioned the T-shirt, a state legislator and someone at the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy heard about this and objected, and the University barred NORML ISU from printing further T-shirts with the design. After that, the University’s Trademark Guidelines were changed to ban “designs that suggest promotion of the below listed items … dangerous, illegal or unhealthy products, actions or behaviors; … [or] drugs and drug paraphernalia that are illegal or unhealthful.”

    The court disagreed.

    “NORML ISU’s use of the cannabis leaf does not violate ISU’s trademark policies because the organization advocates for reform to marijuana laws, not the illegal use of marijuana,”

    The circuit court decided that students’ “attempts to obtain approval to use ISU’s trademarks on NORML ISU’s merchandise amounted to constitutionally protected speech.”

    Basically, ISU violated the students’ first amendment rights and discriminated against them on the basis of their viewpoint.

    The suit was overseen by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon, FIRE’s director of litigation, released a statement saying “We are so pleased to see Paul and Erin’s victory unanimously affirmed by the Eighth Circuit today. Paul and Erin had the courage to stand up for their First Amendment rights, and thousands of students in seven states will now benefit from their commitment.”

    This can only come as a reminder to us to stand up and fight back against those looking to suppress advocates for marijuana legalization (and fashionable people everywhere). We as a constituency have the unalienable right of freedom of speech, so make your voice heard and get involved with a NORML chapter near you.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director February 11, 2017
    Photo by Gage Skidmore

    Photo by Gage Skidmore

    Despite historic opposition, members of the United States Senate voted 52 to 47 last week to approve the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General.

    NORML thanks the tens of thousands of you who responded to our action alerts opposing this nomination and the thousands more who took time to make phone calls. While we are disappointed with this outcome, we are pleased that several members of Congress cited the senator’s opposition to marijuana policy reform as an impetus for rejecting his appointment.

    We’ve previously told you why Jeff Sessions is the wrong man for the job, but today it is time to move forward, not backward.

    So now what?

    Well, during his testimony before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, Sen. Sessions said that it is not the responsibility of the Attorney General to pick and choose which federal laws to enforce. “One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act,” he said. “If that’s something that’s not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule. It is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”

    He’s right. It is time we demand Congress to change the rules once and for all.

    arrestedJust hours prior to Sessions’ confirmation vote, US Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, introduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

    HR 975 states, ‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’

    Passage of this Act would halt US Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other federal official from prosecuting individuals and businesses for violating the Controlled Substances Act in the 29 states that permit either the medical or adult use and distribution of marijuana. According to national polling, 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana.

    take_actionClick here to send your member of Congress a message urging them to support HR 975.

    With the appointment of Sen. Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, passage of this Act is necessary to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference.

    There will be a number of bills in the coming months that will build upon the progress that the movement to legalize marijuana will support. As we always have, NORML will keep you informed and provide you the tools needed to connect with your elected officials.

     

    Please take action today to urge your federal lawmakers to support HR 975, the ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ and when you have finished, please also take a moment to make a generous and much appreciated donation to NORML here so that we can continue to make progress in our federal and statewide efforts.

    With NORML members throughout the country organizing lobby days and taking action over the coming days and weeks, the fight for cannabis freedom will continue with renewed energy.

    NORML has resisted marijuana prohibition for 47 years – We’re not going to stop now; in fact, we’re just getting started. Are you in?

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director February 10, 2017

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

    One thing is clear so far this year, elected officials see the writing on the wall when it comes to marijuana in America. This week, the number of bills filed throughout the country pertaining to various marijuana related policies broke 1,000.

    Most importantly, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

    With the recent confirmation of militant marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, passage of this Act is necessary to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference.

    In just the last day, we have had over 1,500 people email their Congressional Representative to support this crucial piece of legislation.

    Additionally, much to the dismay of marijuana advocates (and a number of our allies including the ACLU and NAACP), Jeff Sessions has been confirmed and sworn in as the nation’s Attorney General.

    What happens next in regards to marijuana policy is uncertain but for now, NORML and marijuana advocates from around the country will continue to pursue further progress, be it at the state or federal level.

    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
    Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

    HR 975 states, ‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’

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

    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.

    Reps. Melissa Ziobron (R), and Juan Candelaria (D) also have similar measures, HB 5314 and HB 5539. HB 5314 has been reserved for public hearings and HB 5539 is still being debated in committee.

    The House Speaker has previously acknowledged that he expects these bills to receive full hearings this session, so it is vital that your lawmakers hear consistent support for these measures from voters like you.

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

    New Hampshire
    Update: HB640 has passed the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on a vote of 14-2.

    HB640, sponsored by 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats, will amend criminal penalties for marijuana possession is pending in the House, where lawmakers have overwhelmingly supported such efforts for eight years in a row. However, legislators this year are hopeful that, for the first time, they also have sufficient votes to also clear the Senate.

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

    New York
    Legislation has been filed for the 2017 legislative session to eliminate the ‘public view’ loophole exception in New York state’s marijuana law. Abuse of this provision has led to hundreds of thousands of needless marijuana arrests in recent years, primarily in New York City, despite the possession of the plant being decriminalized in the state since 1977.

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

    Rhode Island
    New Polling: A coalition of Rhode Island lawmakers has reintroduced a marijuana legalization this legislative session.

    A majority of Rhode Island residents, about 60 percent, support legalization and Jared Moffat, Director of Regulate Rhode Island, believes: “It’s time for Rhode Island to look very seriously at this issue and pass a bill. Otherwise, we risk falling behind those other states.”

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

    Texas
    Legislation has been introduced for the 2017 legislative session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    House Bill 81, filed by Representative Joe Moody and cosponsored by Representative Jason Isaac, seeks to amend state law so that possessing up to one ounce of marijuana is a civil violation, punishable by a fine – no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record. Under current state law, first-time marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

    According to the ACLU, Texas arrests over 70,000 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses — the second highest total in the nation, at the cost of over 250 million dollars per year.

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

    Tennessee
    Several pieces of legislation are pending to amend marijuana possession penalties.

    HB 831 and SB 1116 seek to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

    Separate legislation is pending in the House and Senate — SB 265 and HB 297 — to reduce penalties associated with the possession of one-eighth of marijuana (3.544 grams) to a $50 fine-only offense. However, under these bills, simple possession would still remain classified as a misdemeanor.

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

    OTHER ACTIONS TO TAKE

    Florida
    HB 237 seeks to prohibit individuals from operating a motor vehicle if they have 5 or more nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood.

    NORML opposes this proposal.

    The presence of low levels of THC in blood is an inappropriate and inconsistent indicator of psychomotor impairment. No less than the United States Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) agrees, stating, “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”

    It should not be presumed that the detection of THC is predictive of psychomotor impairment and such a presumption should not be codified in Florida’s traffic safety statutes. The imposition and enforcement of this measure risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations.

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

    Georgia
    Legislation is pending in the Senate, SB 105, to reduce felony marijuana possession offenses to a fine-only misdemeanor.

    Under state law, the possession of over one ounce of marijuana is classified as a felony offense — punishable by a minimum of one year in jail and up to ten years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Senate Bill 105 would reduce this penalty to a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $300.

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

    Iowa
    Legislation is pending in the House, HF 199, to establish a statewide medical marijuana program. Under HF 199, qualified patients with intractable pain and other conditions would be able to obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities. Similar legislation is also pending in the Senate, SF 205.

    A more narrow version of this program is proposed by separate legislation, HF 198.

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

    Kansas
    Legislation is pending before lawmakers, SB 155, to establish regulations governing a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

    SB 155 would permit qualified patients to grow their own medical marijuana or to obtain it from a licensed dispensary, while also educating physicians who seek to recommend cannabis therapy.

    Kansas is one of fewer than a dozen US states that has taken no action to reform its medical marijuana laws. Please urge your House and Senate lawmakers to support these comprehensive legislation.

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

    Minnesota
    Legislation to permit the adult use, cultivation, production, and retail sale of marijuana is forthcoming in the Minnesota legislature.

    Deputy Minority Leader, State Rep. Jon Applebaum has announced his intent to sponsor the measure in a press release. The bill would allow those age 21 or older to legally possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use and establish regulations governing its commercial production and retail sale.

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

    New Mexico
    Update: HB 89 has cleared the first committee as it makes it’s way to the floor of the House.

    State Representatives Bill McCamley and Javier Martinez introduced HB 89 to regulate the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana in the state.

    ”It is either going to happen sooner or it is going to happen later and if it happens sooner we can realize the economic benefits now.” McCamley said.

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

    Oklahoma
    Legislation is pending in the House, HB 1877, The Medical Marijuana Act of 2017.

    Passage of the Act would regulate state-licensed dispensaries to provide up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana to qualifying patients.

    Separate provisions protect the rights of patients from civil sanctions, stating: “An employer shall not discriminate against an individual in hiring, termination or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize an individual, based upon the past or present status of the individual as a qualifying patient or designated caregiver; A person otherwise entitled to custody of, or visitation or parenting time with, a minor shall not be denied custody, visitation or parenting time solely for conduct allowed under this act.”

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

    Vermont
    UPDATE: H. 170 was first heard on Thursday, Feb. 9th

    Legislation is pending in the House, H.170, to eliminate civil and criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults.

    If passed, the measure would legalize the possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana, up to ten grams of hashish, and/or the cultivation of two marijuana plants in a private residence.

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

    Wisconsin
    Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) introduced a pair of bills seeking to provide qualified patients with legal access to medical cannabis. The first bill establishes a statewide medical marijuana program, while the second bill would poll voters’ attitudes on the issue in the form of a nonbinding statewide referendum.

    Speaking at a news conference, Sen. Erpenbach said that the passage of his legislation will put patients “in a situation where they don’t have to break the law anymore.”
    WI Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director February 8, 2017
    Jeff_Sessions_(29299022521)

    Photo by Gage Skidmore

    Despite historic opposition to a nominee for Attorney General, today Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL) was confirmed to assume the role of our nation’s top law enforcement official.

    What happens next in regards to marijuana policy is unclear. We can engage in speculation as much as we’d like, but ultimately theorizing on whether or not Sessions will leverage the resources of the Department of Justice to enforce the federal prohibition of marijuana will be discovered soon enough.

    For now, we must reflect on the achievements that we have made as a movement which now must be protected and continue to pursue further progress, be it at the state or federal level.

    Currently, states that have implemented medical marijuana programs are technically protected from the Department of Justice under the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, however that is set to expire on April 27th unless renewed as a part of the appropriations process.

    Jeff Sessions’ history in regards to marijuana policy, including making statements like “We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.” and “[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana” are a serious reason for concern and highlight the need to remain vigilant.  

    During his confirmation process, marijuana legalization supporters with NORML made thousands of phone calls and sent tens of thousands of emails regarding Sessions plans for marijuana policy. While we lost the battle, we continue to win the war.

    Our Senators, now more than ever, know this is an issue at the forefront of the minds of American voters and that we are willing and able to mobilize for it. In fact, four Senators referenced Sessions’ position on marijuana as a reason to oppose his nomination during an all night “talk-a-thon” to delay todays vote.

    We will never stop fighting for further reforms at the state level and needed federal policy changes. With NORML members throughout the country organizing lobby days and taking direct action, the fight for cannabis freedom will continue with renewed energy.

    NORML has resisted marijuana prohibition for 47 years – We’re not going to stop now.

    Please consider signing up to be a monthly contributor to ensure that we have the resources we need to stand up to Jeff Sessions and to fight back against our nation’s failed war on marijuana consumers.

Page 5 of 442« First...34567...102030...Last »