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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director June 19, 2014

    New York State lawmakers announced today that they have come to agreement to approve a limited pilot program for medical marijuana in the Empire State.

    An agreement was reached to amend the bill to include provisions demanded by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, including provisions that prohibit the smoking of marijuana. Instead, the amended measure is expected to only allow for non-smoked preparations of cannabis (such as oils). The compromised measure also reduces from the original bill of the number of qualifying conditions, as well as the total number of state-licensed producers and dispensers that will be allowed. (A final draft of the compromised language has not yet been made public.)

    The pilot program will be overseen by the State Health Department and would last for seven years, with the option to reauthorize the program after that period has expired. After final approval, the State Health Department will have up to 18 months to establish regulations and authorize entities permitted to dispense it. The governor, upon recommendation by the state police superintendent or the state health commissioner, would have the authority to suspend the program.

    NORML will keep you updated as this situation evolves.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director February 13, 2014

    Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) has introduced federal legislation, House Resolution 4046, to remove legal restrictions prohibiting the Office of National Drug Control Policy from researching marijuana legalization. These restrictions also require the office to oppose any and all efforts to liberalize criminal laws associated with the plant.

    “Not only is the ONDCP the only federal office required by law to oppose rescheduling marijuana even if it is proven to have medical benefits, but it is also prohibited from studying if that could be even be true,” said Congressman Cohen. “The ONDCP’s job should be to develop and recommend sane drug control policies, not be handcuffed or muzzled from telling the American people the truth. How can we trust what the Drug Czar says if the law already preordains its position? My bill would give the ONDCP the freedom to use science—not ideology—in its recommendations and give the American people a reason to trust what they are told.”

    These restrictions were placed on the Office of National Drug Control Policy by the Reauthorization Act of 1998, which mandates the ODCP director “shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that–

    (A) is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
    (B) has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;”

    You can quickly and easily contact your representative by clicking here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 10, 2014

    Marijuana laws are changing across the nation. They are changing because stakeholders are becoming actively involved in their own liberation by joining groups like NORML, forming NORML chapters, and making their voices heard.

    NORML has always relied on the efforts of our regional affiliates – people like you – to personally spread the NORML message to local and state lawmakers. On Saturday, members of one such regional NORML affiliate, the northern Virginia chapter of NORML, presented an articulate, persuasive, and coordinated message to their elected officials: ‘It’s time to stop arresting responsible adults who consume cannabis.’ Their efforts are commendable – and necessary.

    As we begin the 2014 state legislative session, a session that promises to be the busiest session for marijuana law reform in our history, it is vital that stakeholders play and active and participatory role in the legislative process. You can do so by joining any one of the dozens of NORML chapters nationwide or by starting your own. You can also do so by regularly logging on to norml.org/act to learn about the latest pending marijuana law reform measures pending in your state. By visiting this page, NORML will also identify your local elected officials and provide you with the tools to contact him or her in support of marijuana law reform. By visiting NORML’s facebook page, following NORML on Twitter, and/or by signing up for NORML’s newsletter, you will also receive timely e-mail alerts informing you of when legislative hearings and key votes are taking place in your state.

    Today, the mainstream media, pundits, and elected officials are all talking about marijuana policy in unprecedented numbers. They are doing so because of people like you. Make your voice heard. Make your voice count. Get active; get NORML!

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director December 3, 2013

    melegaDespite experiencing setbacks when it came to reintroducing marijuana legalization legislation for the 2014 Maine legislative session, efforts are already underway to prepare for 2015. The primary sponsor of the previous marijuana legalization bills in the state, Rep. Diane Russell, and NORML are seeking input regarding the drafting of this legislation. We feel the current draft is well written and accomplishes a number of goals we can all agree on, such as the establishment of retail outlets to sell marijuana to those over the age of 21, allowing for home cultivation, protecting the current medical marijuana program, dedicating tax revenue to establish subsidies to low income patients to help them afford their medical cannabis, implement a reasonable tax structure for marijuana sold at retail, and give deference on retail licenses to those who have held residency in Maine for several years. Below is a message from Rep. Russell, read it over then click the link to read the current bill draft and leave your comments (be polite and constructive!).

    I’ve been working hard to draft a responsible bill that balances a variety of stakeholder interests, along with what is politically viable. It is designed to be a rational, pragmatic bill designed to move Maine forward toward ending prohibition.

    My goal has always been to pull together the best version I could, and then open it up for public comment this week so everyone can help make it even better. I just wanted to be sure we had a good version of the bill to start from. Just log in with Facebook or Twitter and leave the comments and suggestions for all of us to see. You can start a “new suggestion” in the control box to the right, after you sign in.

    It’s yours now.

    So here’s the deal. Write whatever you want, suggest whatever you think makes it better. It’s yours to critique, to provide feedback and to comment freely.

    All comments received before December 15, 2013 will be aggregated, and I will work to incorporate constructive, realistic feedback into the final bill which I’d like to release early next year.

    Some Key Goals:

    1. Adhere to the eight guidelines issued by the Department of Justice.

    2. Protect patients.

    3. Protect our communities and our kids. Would my mom approve? Would yours?

    4. Ensure the industry is for Maine people and boosts local economies across the state.

    5. Ensure adults could grow at home.

    6. Constructively balance the varied interests and concerns coming from often opposing view points

    7. Make Mainers Proud.

    It’s in your hands now. Make it a better bill!

    -Rep. Diane Russell

    CLICK HERE TO READ THE DRAFT AND LEAVE YOUR FEEDBACK

    Want to do more to help bring marijuana legalization to Maine? We encourage all Mainers to check out www.yesmaine.org to review the information there. You can also submit your contact information if you are interested in playing a role in the formation of a Maine NORML chapter. It was with your support we have made the progress in Maine that we have, keep up the hard work and we can finish the job come 2015.

    Together, we will legalize marijuana.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director October 29, 2013

    Reported this week in the Daily Herald:

    Community banks and credit unions are ready and willing to provide financial services to entrepreneurs in the state’s new legal pot industry. But they aren’t able to, at least not yet.

    Marijuana businesses, even ones that will soon be legally licensed in this state, are considered criminal enterprises under federal law, which makes handling their money a crime in the eyes of the Department of Justice.

    Until the agency changes its outlook or Congress changes the law — and efforts are under way to do both — those getting into the pot business can’t open a bank account, secure a line of credit or obtain a loan from a federally insured financial institution in their neighborhood.

    Full Article

    Fortunately, there is already a bill Congress could act upon to resolve this issue. Earlier this year, Representatives Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) and Denny Heck (WA – 10), along with a bipartisan group of 16 other Republicans and Democrats, introduced legislation that would reform federal banking laws relating to marijuana businesses. HR 2652: The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2013 updates federal banking rules to resolve conflicts between federal and state laws and would allow marijuana businesses acting in compliance with state law to access banking services.

    Under current federal banking laws, many legal, regulated legitimate marijuana businesses that follow state law are prevented from opening bank accounts and operating as any other businesses would, which could ultimately lead to crime such as robbery and tax evasion in addition to the already onerous burden of setting up a legitimate small business.

    Please take a minute of your time today to utilize NORML’s Take Action Center to contact your elected officials and urge them to support this important legislation. You can do so by clicking here.

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