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NORML Blog

  • by NORML March 20, 2017

    By Daniel Rouleau, Communications Director of Virginia NORML

    VANORMLIn the first quarter of 2017, the reform efforts of Virginia NORML laid a framework for exciting changes in the Commonwealth’s cannabis policies. As spring blooms, conversations are blossoming in municipalities across the state challenging the status quo of criminally prosecuting misdemeanor possession in favor of civil fines. And we’re leading the charge not only at home in Virginia, but in Congress as well. As Virginia NORML continues its mission to reform marijuana laws, our efforts must target all three fronts, federal, state and local.  

    Federal Changes from Virginia Conservatives
    Three bills have been introduced by Virginia congressmen that would significantly reform the current federal policy of prohibition. Rep. Griffin (R-VA) from the 9th district introduced the Legitimate Use of Medical Marijuana Act and the Compassionate Access Act. Both would reschedule marijuana from its current Schedule 1 classification, and include protections for state programs.

    Rep. Garrett (R-VA) from the 5th district introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017, and Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) from the 2nd quickly cosponsored. This bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act altogether, allowing states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference. This legislation was carried by Sen. Sanders in the previous session, and now, conservative lawmakers from Virginia are marching down the same path. Make no mistake, that is because they were lobbied by Virginia families desperate for medical reform, both in our statehouse and DC.

    VAreps

    VA Reps Griffin, Garrett, and Taylor 

    Emergence of a New Regulated Cannabis Industry
    In a watershed moment, the Virginia General Assembly unanimously passed a bill to regulate the in-state growth, production, and distribution of cannabis oil. Virginia NORML is closely monitoring the licensing process to ensure the agreed upon regulations are implemented swiftly and with patient safety and access of primary concern. Currently, the regulations only allow access to patients with intractable epilepsy. We are already hard at work with legislators preparing for expansion legislation in 2018 that will #LetDoctorsDecide which of their patients they would recommend medical cannabis to, just as they already do with all other medications.

    You can join our patient coalition at Cannabis Commonwealth if you’d like to stand with us in the fight for all Virginian’s rights to access safe, regulated medical cannabis.

    Local Efforts for Decriminalization
    Grassroots. This word is spoken often, on every channel, by both parties. Why? Because it works. An old cliché says “80% of success is showing up.” If you want to see decriminalization succeed in Virginia, you have to show up. Get to your City Council now. Prior to each General Assembly, councils prepare their legislative packages, policy wish lists that they draft based on community input. Any resident can sign up to speak before their council on issues important to them during the public comment period of any meeting. Ask your council to include a request for decriminalization and/or doctor-recommended medical cannabis in their 2018 package.

    Virginia operates under the Dillon Rule, which means municipalities cannot decriminalize, but they can deprioritize. City councils can direct their police departments to place the lowest level of priority on arresting adults for simple possession. And, Commonwealth Attorneys, which like city council are elected positions, are already empowered to refuse prosecuting misdemeanor possession charges, leaving resources available to prosecute violent crimes and felonies. Showing up is the first step in achieving any of these reforms!

    Spring Into Action
    Ready to do more but don’t know where to start? Get involved with your local Virginia NORML chapter, or check to see if your area has a Decriminalize movement, like Decriminalize Norfolk or Decriminalize Virginia Beach. If there is no group in your area, please contact us for help kickstarting the conversation in your hometown. Speakers, training, data, and procedural assistance are available through Virginia NORML to power your community’s journey to safer marijuana policies.

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook and Twitter. You can learn more at http://www.vanorml.org/ and support their work at vanorml.org/donate

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel March 18, 2017
    Keith Stroup and Hunter S. Thompson

    Keith Stroup and Hunter S. Thompson

    Every year Colorado NORML covers the costs of sending at least TWO attorneys, law students, patients, or advocates who could not otherwise attend to the NORML Aspen Legal Seminar. Covered costs will include lodging at the Gant Hotel, entrance to seminar events, and travel expenses.

    To apply, please send a one page letter telling Colorado NORML how your participation at the seminar will advance marijuana law reform, policy or public opinion.

    Submit applications by APRIL 21, 2017 to tiffany.kallash@gmlaw.com.

    Link to Aspen Seminar: http://norml.org/about/events/aspen-legal-seminar

     

  • 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.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director March 11, 2017

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

    At the federal level, aside from a few absurd comments by Attorney General Sessions and new cosponsors to HR 975 and HR 1227, things have been pretty quiet.

    At the state level, it is quite a different story. We have continued to see a marked rise in the number of bills introduced pertaining to marijuana, crossing the 1,500 mark. From hearings on marijuana legalization in Maryland to social clubs passing the Senate in Colorado to hemp passing the both chambers in the New Mexico statehouse, at every level we are making progress.

    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 that is headed to the Senate Business, Labor and Technology committee on Tuesday, March 1, 2017. 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.

    Last November, voters In California and Maine approved public marijuana consumption through Proposition 64 and Question 1, but haven’t settled on rules. This means Colorado could be first out of the gate with statewide regulations for pot clubs.

    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 promised to veto the bill if passed in its current version.

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

    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.

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

    Maryland
    HB 1236 and it’s companion bill SB891 would amend the Maryland Constitution to ensure citizens have the right to possess, smoke, and cultivate marijuana.

    The Amendment would also require the General Assembly to establish a regulatory structure for “the transfer of cannabis by purchase or sale.”

    If enacted, the law would legalize the possession of up to two ounces and the cultivation of up to six plants.

    Update: The House held a hearing about HB 1236 on March 3 at 1pm, and a hearing about SB 891 on March 2 at 1pm.

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

    Nevada
    Senate legislation is pending, SB 236, to regulate the social use of cannabis.

    The measure allows select businesses to apply for licensing to permit adult marijuana use on their premises. It would also allow event organizers to seek permits to allow adult use at specific events.

    To date, private adult use of marijuana is permitted, but only in a private residence. Passage of SB 236 establishes a regulatory framework to permit adults the option to consume cannabis at specified public places or events.

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

    New Hampshire
    Legislation is pending in the New Hampshire House, HB 215, to establish a commission to study the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.

    Police in New Hampshire arrest some 2,900 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of New Hampshire adults, 62 percent of whom now endorse legalizing and regulating cannabis, according to a 2016 WMUR Granite State Poll.

    Update: HB 215 passed the House on Thursday, March 8 on a voice vote. It will now be referred to the Senate.

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

    Additionally, Multiple bills are pending before lawmakers to expand the pool of patients eligible to qualify for medical marijuana therapy.

    In particular, these measures would permit patients with conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress to obtain legal access to marijuana.

    Update: Bills to add chronic pain (HB 157) and PTSD (HB 160) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana have passed the House. They will now be referred to the Senate.

    NH Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of 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: A Senate substitute version of SB 258 was passed 33 to 9 by members of the Senate. The amended version of the bill now awaits action by the House.  

    NM Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of 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.

    OR Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of 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 1119 and SB 673 were debated by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 7.

    TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of 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.

    Update: HB 81 is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, March 13. Starting at 8am if you happen to be in the state capitol in Austin you can get within the capitol steps Wi-Fi in order to register your support of HB 81.

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

    Vermont
    Rep. Samuel Young has introduced H. 490 to regulate the commercial and retail marijuana market.

    H. 490 establishes a regulated system whereby adults may legally obtain marijuana from state-licensed retail providers and sellers.

    Statewide polling reports that a majority of Vermont voters support legalizing and regulating marijuana. According to a RAND Corporation study, regulating the commercial sale of cannabis in Vermont would generate $20 million to $75 million annually in new tax revenue.

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

    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.”

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

    Additional Actions To Take

    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.

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

    District of Columbia
    Councilman David Grosso has re-introduced the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act. First introduced in 2014, DC voters overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure.

    The bill will legalize marijuana use for adults over the age of 21 and will allow the city to tax and regulate a commercial market. Due to DC’s unique charter in Congress, however, this provision of the law was gutted in 2014.

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

    New Hampshire
    House legislation is pending, HB 472, to permit qualified patients to cultivate their own medicine.

    Under present law, qualified patients must purchase cannabis from one of a handful of state-licensed dispensaries.

    House Bill 472 allows patients to cultivate up to two mature plants and up to 12 seedlings at one time.

    Update: Members of the House of Representatives have passed HB 472. It now awaits action by the Senate.

    NH Resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of 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 he veto.

    A similar provision, Senate Bill 6, now awaits action from the Governor. Members of the House and Senate have previously passed the measure by votes of 58 to 8 and 37 to 2.

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

    Washington
    Legislation is before lawmakers, House Bill 2064, to amend state law so that industrial hemp is not longer classified under the state’s uniform controlled substances act.

    If passed, hemp plants will no longer be regulated as a controlled substance.

    Update: HB 2064 has unanimously passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.

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

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director March 10, 2017
    Attorney General Jeff Sessions Photo by Gage Skidmore

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
    Photo by Gage Skidmore

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt to discuss a range of issues, including how the Trump administration intends to address marijuana law enforcement in states that are regulating its adult use.

    During the interview, Hewitt repeatedly encourages Sessions to engage in federal prosecutions against state-licensed marijuana providers.

    Hugh Hewitt (HH): Let’s talk about the rule of law. I have a piece coming out in the Washington Post about this on Sunday, Attorney General Sessions. One RICO prosecution against one marijuana retailer in one state that has so-called legalization ends this façade and this flaunting of the Supremacy Clause. Will you be bringing such a case?

    Jeff Sessions (JS): We will — Um — Marijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws. So yes, we will enforce law in an appropriate way nationwide. It’s not possible for the federal government, of course, to take over everything the local police used to do in a state that’s legalized it. And I’m not in favor of legalization of marijuana. I think it’s a more dangerous drug than a lot of people realize. I don’t think we’re going to be a better community if marijuana is sold in every corner grocery store.

    HH: No, but it would literally take one racketeering influence corrupt organization prosecution to take all the money from one retailer, and the message would be sent. I mean, if you want to send that message, you can send it. Do you think you’re going to send it?

    JS: Well, we’ll be evaluating how we want to handle that. I think it’s a little more complicated than one RICO case, I’ve got to tell you. This, places like Colorado, it’s just sprung up a lot of different independent entities that are moving marijuana. And it’s also being moved interstate, not just in the home state.

    HH: Yes.

    JS: And neighbors are complaining, and filed lawsuits against them. So it’s a serious matter, in my opinion. And I just came from a big rally in New Hampshire yesterday, Hugh. This is, this opioid problem is just huge. There were 9,000 high school and junior high school students there. A mother I met who had lost a son three months before, a child, and she said there were 50 more mothers there who’d lost children speaking to those kids. We’ve had this huge opioid surge in America, 120 people a day die from drug overdose. And I do believe, and the President has issued an order to the Department of Justice to crack down on drugs and these international cartels that are moving this Fentanyl that’s so deadly into our country. And we’re going to step up that in a very vigorous way as I talk to United States Attorneys yesterday by conference call.

    Predictably, Sessions’ responses — in particular his reaffirmation: “Marijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws. So yes, we will enforce law in an appropriate way nationwide.” — follows the path laid out by The Heritage Foundation’s Cully Stimson, who on February 27th, released an 11-point plan on how to “provide a targeted approach to [federal] marijuana enforcement.” The Heritage Foundation proposal specifically calls for the Department of Justice to use RICO laws to target state-licensed marijuana businesses:

    1. Prosecute those dealing in marijuana—which is illegal under federal law—using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Those who engage in a pattern of racketeering activity through a corporation or other enterprise are liable for three times the economic harm they cause. RICO gives federal courts the power to order racketeering enterprises and their co-conspirators to cease their unlawful operations.

    The Attorney General also repeats two overt myths regarding cannabis, claiming that the enactment of marijuana regulatory schemes are somehow linked with violent crime and opioid abuse. As NORML recently points out in op-eds here and here, both of these claims are categorically untrue.

    At the end of the day, when the Attorney General of the United States publicly contemplates the federal prosecution of those in the adult use marijuana industry, we should take these threats seriously.

    That is why we need to continue to be proactive in pushing Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition and be ready to fight back at every level should Sessions follow through on his recent statements.

    Click here to tell your member of Congress and urge them to support HR 1227, the Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017.

    And click here to sign up as a NORML monthly supporter to make sure that we have the resources to support our chapters in the upcoming legal battles to protect the states that have legalized adult-use marijuana.

    Thanks for all you do and stay vigilant.

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