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NORML Blog

  • by NORML August 9, 2018

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML PAC) has endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in his campaign for reelection in Vermont.

    “Bernie has become one of the most outspoken and visible advocates for ending marijuana prohibition,” stated NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “He has called for sensible drug policy throughout his career, made descheduling marijuana a key component of his platform when running for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016, and has co-sponsored key pieces of federal legislation such as the Marijuana Justice Act. Senator Sanders doesn’t restrict his fight for reform to backroom meetings and floor speeches in Congress, he takes our message with him as he holds massive rallies and town halls across not just the state of Vermont, but throughout the country. His fire and passion have helped elevate our issue in the national dialogue and we are honored to support his reelection campaign. He is a true leader in the marijuana legalization revolution.”

    Click here to Tweet our endorsement. 

    Click here to share on Facebook.

    Commenting on marijuana prohibition earlier this year, Senator Sanders said:

    “Millions of Americans have had their lives impacted by the federal prohibition on marijuana – arrests, convictions and even jail time. Even when people don’t go to jail, the criminal record they receive makes it harder for them to find a job, get housing or go to college. Is this a widespread problem? It sure is. In 2016 alone, over half a million people were arrested for marijuana possession.

    These harmful impacts are felt far more acutely in communities of color and poor communities because enforcement of marijuana laws is much stricter there than in more affluent, white communities. Incredibly, African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana even though marijuana usage rates are basically the same across racial lines.

    As a first step, we need to remove marijuana from Category 1 of the federal Controlled Substances Act where it is currently ranked alongside drugs like heroin. In fact, marijuana is classified more harshly than cocaine. That doesn’t make any sense.

    Let’s have states decide the issue of marijuana for themselves like they do with alcohol. More and more states are moving in the direction of decriminalization. Let them make those decisions without federal interference.”

    To learn more about Bernie’s 2018 campaign visit: www.berniesanders.com

  • by NORML August 8, 2018

    Today, Congressman Charlie Crist held a press conference to announce the introduction of the Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act, HR 6589.

    The bipartisan bill would explicitly bar federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a cannabis consumer, or due to testing positive for marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

    Send a message to your Representative in support of this bill now!

    “Medical marijuana is an issue of compassion, and in the veterans’ community, access is even more important as more and more veterans are turning to cannabis to address chronic pain and PTSD. At the same time, the federal government is the largest employer of veterans; however, private cannabis use even in states that have legalized medical marijuana is prohibited in these positions,” said Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL). “Our bipartisan bill would protect federal employment for those in compliance with their state’s cannabis laws. Because our veterans shouldn’t have to choose between treatment options or job opportunities.”

    “The time for the federal government to end the practice of arbitrarily discriminating against current and potential workers for marijuana consumption is now,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “With 47 states having reformed their cannabis laws to be in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act, individuals acting in compliance with state law should not be denied the opportunity to serve their country as public servants.”

    Enacted in 1986, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program made it a condition for employment that all civilian employees at executive branch agencies be prohibited from using federally illegal substances on or off duty. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 31 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, and 46 states have some form of medical marijuana law; however, it remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, federal employees can be denied employment or terminated due to testing positive for marijuana metabolites, even if their use is in compliance with state law. This conflict between state and federal laws limits treatment options and federal employment opportunities, particularly impacting veterans who comprise approximately one-third of the federal workforce and whose medical cannabis use to treat chronic pain and PTSD has been found to be double the rate of the general public. A recent American Legion poll found that one in five veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

    Changes in the legal status of marijuana at the state level have not negatively impacted workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that the legalization of medical marijuana access 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.

    In 2018, legislative efforts to reform employment laws were either attempted or successful in California, Florida, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, among others.

    Send a message to your Congressperson now and urge them to cosponsor the bill!

    Bill Overview:

    •   The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act prohibits marijuana metabolite testing from being used as the sole factor to deny or terminate federal employment for civilian positions at executive branch agencies if the individual is in compliance with the marijuana laws in their state of residence.
    •   The bill only extends to an individual’s past, private use of cannabis, and does not prohibit probable cause testing if an individual is believed to be impaired at work.
    •   The bill does not apply to individuals occupying or seeking a position requiring a top-secret clearance.
  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director August 7, 2018

    With six meetings scheduled before next year’s legislative session, members of Colorado’s Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee are working diligently to address an issue many local and state governments are currently struggling with across America. As the total number of opioid-related deaths continues to grow beyond the more than 40,000 deaths that were reported in 2016, lawmakers are willing to consider all options.

    Click here to urge Colorado’s Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee to acknowledge the role that marijuana can play in combating Colorado’s opioid epidemic

    The committee was established earlier this year with the passage of House Bill 18-1003 to explore what other states are doing to address substance use disorders, explore harm reduction, treatment, and recovery option, and of course identify possible legislative solutions.

    “Among other initiatives, the committee will study data and statistics on the scope of the substance use disorder problem in the state, study current prevention, intervention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery resources available to citizens, as well as public and private insurance coverage and other sources of support for treatment and recovery resources and examine measures other states and countries use to address substance use disorders.”

    Read more from The Pueblo Chieftain

    Several observational studies – such as those here, here, and here – find that medical marijuana regulation is correlated with reductions in opioid-related use, drug spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Separate data evaluating prescription drug use trends among individual patients enrolled in state-licensed medical marijuana programs is consistent with this conclusion, finding that many chronic pain subjects reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following enrollment. Colorado lawmakers should not ignore the reality that access to marijuana can play a role in mitigating the opioid abuse crisis.

    Click here to urge Colorado’s Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee to acknowledge the role that marijuana can play in combating Colorado’s opioid epidemic

    Is there an active opioid commission or task force in your community? Email KevinM@NORML.org and we’ll create an action alert to engage and educate your elected officials about the role marijuana can play in reducing opioid-related deaths, hospitalizations, and total number of opioids prescribed.

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

    Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

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

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

    Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

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

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

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

    California

    Expungement

    Assembly Bill 1793 seeks “to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.

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

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

    Banking

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

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

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

    That’s all the legislative updates for this week!

  • by Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML

    Dear Friends,

    I am pleased to be able to tell you that this morning, Thursday, August 2, the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office certified that the New Approach Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative will appear on the November 6 ballot this year! New Approach Missouri is closely allied with Missouri NORML and the active Missouri NORML Chapters around the state whose members were instrumental in gathering the signatures which were submitted in early May and have just been certified sufficient to place this measure before the voters.

    In fact, the Missouri Secretary of State certified that three medical marijuana initiatives will appear on the ballot this November, an unprecedented event in the marijuana law reform movement and possibly in the history of our state, and possibly the nation!

    Having three initiatives on the same ballot dealing with the same issue complicates the situation considerably. The Missouri Constitution specifies that if conflicting initiative measures appear on the same ballot, the one which receives the most votes will prevail. It is likely that all three of these measures will have the support of a majority of the voters. Two are constitutional amendments and the third is a statutory initiative.

    Most observers believe that either of the constitutional amendments would prevail over the statutory initiative even if it got more votes, which seems very unlikely.

    The other constitutional initiative is funded by a single individual, a wealthy personal injury lawyer from Springfield, Missouri. His campaign has a single contributor. It would establish the highest tax on medical marijuana in the nation and use that tax money to establish a new medical research facility which the filer of the petition, attorney Brad Bradshaw, would personally run. His initiative specifies that the filer of his initiative will choose the Board of Directors and that the Chief Executive of that research agency must be someone who is both a physician and a lawyer, which Bradshaw is! If the press exposes the blatant vested interest he has in this measure, we think the public will reject it.

    Sincerely,

    Dan Viets

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