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California

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate June 1, 2018

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

    At the federal level, the U.S. House Rules Committee, and potentially the full House of Representatives, will consider four marijuana amendments next week, covering issues ranging from veterans’ access to medical cannabis to water rights for hemp growers.

    This week, it was big victory for patients as a Florida Circuit Court judge ruled that a legislatively enacted ban on the smoking of medical cannabis in private by qualified patients is unconstitutional.

    Additionally at the state level, state regulators in Utah certified a voter-initiated medical cannabis access measure for the 2018 ballot. Officials announced that proponents gathered nearly 154,000 validated initiative signatures from registered voters — far exceeding the total necessary to place the measure before a statewide vote.

    California NORML teamed up with Americans For Safe Access to host a Citizens Lobby Day in Sacramento on June 4, and Gov. Chris Sununu (R) of New Hampshire signed a bill allowing additional medical cannabis dispensary locations.

    At a more local level, Allentown, Pennsylvania’s mayor signed a marijuana decriminalization ordinance into law, but the police say they will continue enforcing state criminalization.

    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 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 Federal 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 e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    Senate Bill 20-62 seeks to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis in the US territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

    If passed, the bill would 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: SB 20-62 was approved unanimously by the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations (JGO). The next step will be a full House vote.

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

    North Carolina

    House Bill 994 would amend state law so that possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana carries no penalty, rather than a felony conviction. Under current state law, the possession of more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana is classified as a felony punishable by no more than 8 months in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.

    Update: Senate companion bill SB 791 was introduced on 5/31 and awaits action in the Committee on Rules and Regulations.

    NC resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization expansion

    Illinois

    Medical
    SB 336 seeks to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

    Update: SB 336 was approved by both houses on 5/31 and now awaits action from Governor Bruce Rauner.

    IL resident? Click here to email Gov. Rauner in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

    Hemp
    Senate Bill 2298 provides for the ability for individuals to cultivate hemp with a state license even if they are not part of the state’s Agriculture Department pilot program. That program only permits hemp cultivation as part of a state-sponsored research program. The bill was approved by the House last week, with amendments.

    Update: The Senate concurred on 5/30 and SB 2298 now awaits action from Governor Bruce Rauner.

    IL resident? Click here to email Gov. Rauner in support of industrial hemp

    California

    Expungement

    Assembly Bill 1793 would “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: The Assembly Appropriations Committee amended AB 1793 and voted to pass it on 5/25. AB 1793 is expected to be heard by the full floor before the 6/1 deadline.

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

    Employment Protections

    Assembly Bill 2069 would explicitly bar employers from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

    Update: AB 2069 was held under submission in committee, effectively killing it for this year.

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    California

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

    Update: SB 930 was amended and passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/25. The bill was then approved by the Senate by a 29-6 vote on 5/30.

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

    Taxes
    AB 3157, to temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis.

    State and local taxes currently imposed upon retail cannabis sales can total in upwards of 40 percent. This excessive taxation places an undue financial burden, particularly on patients, many of whom are now unable to consistently afford their medicine.

    Update: AB 3157 was heard by the Assembly Appropriations committee on 5/25 and is now dead for this year after the committee decided to hold the bill under submission.

     

    That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 6, 2018

    The District Attorney’s Office for Sonoma County, California (population 502,000) is directing staff to review and vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions.

    County officials estimate that an estimated 3,000 cases are eligible for either a sentencing reduction or expungement.

    The Sonoma County D.A.’s actions follow those of district attorneys for Alameda County, San Diego County, and San Francisco — each of which have moved to pro-actively review and dismiss thousands of past marijuana-related convictions.

    Provisions in the state’s 2016 voter-approved marijuana law allow those with past marijuana convictions to petition the court for expungement. Legislation is pending in the California Assembly, AB 1793, to make this process automatic for anyone with an eligible past cannabis conviction.

    Last month, Seattle city officials publicly announced plans to similarly review and vacate past cannabis convictions. Days later, newly elected Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner announced that his office would cease prosecuting marijuana possession offense violations.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 20, 2018

    The District Attorney for Alameda County has announced her intent to automatically vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions. Alameda County, which includes Oakland, is the 7th-most populous county in California.

    According to the DA’s office, there are an estimated 6,000 marijuana convictions eligible for either a sentence reduction or a dismissal.

    “California is offering a second chance to people convicted of cannabis crimes, from felonies to small infractions, with the opportunity to have their criminal records cleared,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Mally said in a press statement. “We … intend to reverse decades of cannabis convictions that can be a barrier for people to gain meaningful employment.”

    The policy change comes weeks after the San Francisco District Attorney’s office announced that it will review, dismiss, and seal an estimated 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions dating back to 1975.

    Seattle officials have also announced a similar plan to dismiss past convictions, opining, “[T]his action is a necessary first step in righting the wrongs of the past and putting our progressive values into action.” Last week, newly elected Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner also announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offense violations.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 28, 2017

    Marijuana ScienceSelect retailers will begin engaging in adult use marijuana sales on the morning of Monday, January 1. California joins Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington in permitting cannabis sales to those over the age of 21.

    Two additional states – Maine and Massachusetts – permit adults to legally possess and grow cannabis, but have yet to enact regulations permitting the plant’s commercial cultivation and sale.

    Under California law, retailers must possess a state license and also be compliant with local regulations. Numerous municipalities — including Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles — have approved local regulations to permit marijuana retailers. Existing medical cannabis dispensaries are allowed to engage in adult use sales if they possess dual licensing.

    “The rollout of legalized retail marijuana sales for adults in California marks another watershed moment for the movement to reform our nation’s marijuana laws,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “As is often the case, California will continue its role as a political bellwether state. It’s successful implementation of adult use regulation will inspire further states to follow its lead.”

    Separate regulations governing the production, testing, packaging, and sale of medical cannabis also take effect on January 1. The regulations are the first broad set of rules governing medical cannabis production in California since voters approved of the practice in 1996.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director January 18, 2017

    marijuana_seedlingSince its founding, NORML has advocated that statewide legalization efforts – whether through a ballot initiative or using the legislative process – should ideally include provisions that permit and protect the act of home cultivation by marijuana consumers. This advocacy has resulted in more than 16 states now allowing home cultivation, including in six of the eight voter-initiated measures passed in 2016.

    But although there has been a tremendous amount of progress on this issue, it appears that home cultivation is now at risk in several municipalities across Colorado and California. Local and state lawmakers in both jurisdictions are revisiting the issue and are moving toward unnecessarily limiting adult’s home cultivation rights.

    Most recently, representatives with Denver’s Office of Marijuana Policy revealed a plan to, “limit unlicensed recreational and medical grows in private residences,” throughout the city of Denver. This decision came after months of closed-door meetings between regulators and leading marijuana industry interests such as the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG); which together, form what’s being called the, “Non-Licensed Marijuana Grows Inspection Team.

    personal_cultivationAlthough there has been little to no mention of specific details regarding this proposed program, many are anticipating the new regulations to resemble those that have come under fire in Indian Wells, California. In that city, lawmakers are pushing for regulations mandating that anyone who wishes to cultivate marijuana in their home must purchase an annual permit and must also allow inspectors into their residence. This amounts to an absolutely unnecessary burden for responsible, law-abiding citizens.

    In recent days, Denver NORML became inundated with emails, messages and comments on social media demanding a response to what many believe is a blatant overreach by city government officials. In response, members of Denver NORML, led by Executive Director, Jordan Person, began mobilizing volunteers to contact members of the Denver City Council with the goal of defending the rights and privacy of marijuana consumers in the city of Denver.

    “With all of the uncertainty we are expecting in 2017 at both the local and state level our goal at Denver NORML is to help maintain our rights as residents of Colorado to grow in our homes,” said Person. “We will keep our members and supporters informed and part of the conversation as it happens.”

    While it’s obvious that there’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into regulating Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, most marijuana consumers would never support any effort that would attempt to bring similar regulations into the privacy of their homes. Not to mention the fact that the creation of a task force or any other bureaucratic process to approve and/or oversee the cultivation of marijuana in a private residence amounts to a severe misuse of tax dollars and violation of privacy when those limited resources could be dedicated to combating actual problems in our communities.

    marijuana_growerWithout providing any data points related to the correlation between home cultivation and out-of-state diversion, those advocating for tighter regulations deserve to fail in their attempt to convince marijuana consumers that allowing regular visits from government officials in their homes is a good idea. Adults who brew their own beer are not subject to inspections by the state and neither should those who choose to grow personal use quantities of marijuana. Furthermore, criminalizing the personal cultivation of marijuana is an arbitrary prohibition that has absolutely no basis in public safety. Therefore NORML will continue to support the right of individuals to grow their own marijuana as an alternative to purchasing it from licensed commercial producers.

    To join the fight to protect home cultivation, check out NORML’s action page by visiting http://norml.org/act or for more information, please email Chapters@NORML.org.

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