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Connecticut

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 4, 2012

    Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy signed legislation into law on Friday, June 1, allowing for the state-sanctioned production, distribution, and use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The new law – Public Act 12-55, An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana – will take effect on October 1, 2012.

    “For years, we’ve heard from so many patients with chronic diseases who undergo treatments like chemotherapy or radiation and are denied the palliative benefits that medical marijuana would provide,” Governor Malloy said in a prepared statement. (Read it here.) “With careful regulation and safeguards, this law will allow a doctor and a patient to decide what is in that patient’s best interest.”

    Under the law, patients with a qualifying “debilitating medical condition” must receive “written certification” from a physician and register with the state’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP). Qualifying patients and their primary caregivers will be allowed to possess a combined one-month supply of cannabis, the specific amount of which will be determined by a board consisting of eight physicians certified by appropriate medical boards and enforced through DCP regulations. Patients may obtain marijuana from certified pharmacists at licensed dispensaries, who will obtain it from licensed producers. The law allows for the licensing of at least three, but no more than ten, producers statewide.

    Said Erik Williams, Executive Director of Connecticut NORML, who assisted in drafting the bill and generated over 36,000 phone calls and e-mails to lawmakers in support of the measure, “I am so happy for all the patients who will have another medicinal option to discuss with their doctor and for all of those currently suffering with debilitating conditions who will no longer suffer the indignity of being sick and a criminal.”

    Connecticut is the 17th state since 1996 to allow for the limited legalization of medicinal cannabis. It is the fourth New England state to do so, joining Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont — each of which allow for qualified patients to possess and cultivate limited quantities of the plant.

    Late last month, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed into law similar legislation allowing for the state-licensed production and limited distribution of medicinal cannabis. Vermont lawmakers in 2011 approved a similar measure; however, to date the state has yet to license any statewide dispensaries. Presently, a total of eight state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are operating in Maine.

    Similar state-licensed dispensaries operate in Colorado and New Mexico. Additional licensing legislation awaits implementation in Arizona, Delaware, New Jersey, and Washington, DC.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 30, 2012

    On Tuesday, separate legislative committees in the Rhode Island House and Senate approved measures to significantly reduce the state’s criminal marijuana possession penalties.

    House Bill 7092 and its companion legislation, Senate Bill 2253, amend state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an individual 18 or older is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a non-arrestable civil offense, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. You can read NORML’s testimony in favor of the measures here.

    According to a recent statewide poll, commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project, 65 percent of Rhode Island’s residents are in favor of decriminalization. In recent years, neighboring Connecticut (in 2011) and Massachusetts (in 2009, via a voter-approved initiative) have enacted similar decriminalization laws.

    Rhode Island lawmakers have a long history of supporting medical marijuana law reform legislation. However, yesterday’s vote marks one of the first times in recent memory that lawmakers have taken action to amend the state’s marijuana penalties for non-patients.

    The decriminalization measures now await floor votes in their respective chambers. These votes could come as early as this week. Therefore, if you reside in the Ocean State, it is vital that your elected officials hear from you. You can contact your state elected officials directly via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    Similar decriminalization legislation is also pending in New Jersey, where the full Assembly is expected to vote on the measure imminently. Further information on this effort is available here.

    Presently, in eight states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, and Oregon — the private, non-medical possession of marijuana by an adult is defined under the law as a civil, non-criminal offense.

    Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense. Alaska law imposes no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults.

    In all other states, marijuana possession for personal use remains a criminal offense — punishable by an arrest, potential incarceration, and a criminal record.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 21, 2012

    [Update: The full Assembly is now scheduled to vote on A. 1465 this THURSDAY, MAY 24. For the first time in many years, there is now political momentum in New Jersey to mitigate marijuana possession penalties. If you reside in New Jersey, your member of the Assembly needs to hear from you NOW. Contact your state lawmakers via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.]

    Members of the state Assembly Judiciary Committee voted unanimously today in favor of Assembly Bill 1465, bi-partisan legislation which reduces criminal penalties for those who possess personal use quantities of marijuana.

    Witnesses who testified at the hearing were almost uniformly in favor of the legislation, which is similar to the laws of 14 other states. You can read NORML’s written testimony to the Committee here.

    Assembly Bill 1465 removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to 15 grams (approximately one-half ounce) of marijuana, replacing them with civil penalties punishable by no more than a $150 fine and no criminal record. Under present law, the possession of minor amounts of marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by up to six-months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

    Last year, Connecticut NORML spearheaded a successful legislative effort in that state to pass a nearly identical marijuana decriminalization bill. Passage of that measure has since led to a dramatic decline in the total number of marijuana arrests.

    In 2009 (the most recent year for which data is available), 22,439 New Jersey citizens were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Passage of A. 1465 measure would spare many of these citizens from criminal arrest, prosecution, and incarceration, as well as the emotional and financial hardships that follow — including the loss of certain jobs, students loans, federal and state subsidies, and child custody rights. Further, this change would provide immediate legal protections for some New Jersey patients, who presently benefit from the therapeutic use of cannabis, but remain at risk because the state’s two-and-a-half year-old medical marijuana law remains inactive.

    A. 1465 is now pending before the full Assembly. Separate Senate legislation to decriminalize cannabis possession has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. For decriminalization to become reality in New Jersey, the measure must pass both the Assembly and the Senate. The measure would then await action from Gov. Chris Christie.

    If you reside in the Garden State, you are urged to please contact your member of the state Assembly and urge them to vote ‘yes’ on A. 1465 by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    Additional information is available from NORML New Jersey here or via CMM-NJ here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director May 5, 2012

    After a raucous debate last night that lasted longer than anticipated, the Connecticut senate passed a medical cannabis bill approved by the House earlier in the session that will now head to Governor Dannel Malloy’s willing pen for signature.

    With Connecticut passing a medical cannabis bill, approximately one third of the US population now resides in a state that has decided to act in favor of it’s citizens’ will, as compared to the remarkably recalcitrant federal government, which, moronically, still insists cannabis is a dangerous ‘narcotic’ and has no accepted medical value what so ever.

    Congratulations to Connecticut NORML and it’s coordinator Erik Williams for leading the charge to write and pass this important and affirming legislation (Erik and company had previously worked the legislature hard in 2011 to pass cannabis decriminalization laws)!

    "Today is a day of hope, compassion and dignity and I thank all of the legislators who worked hard on this legislation and who voted to pass this bill," said Erik Williams, Executive Director of Connecticut NORML. "I am so happy for all the patients who will have another medicinal option to discuss with their doctor and for all of those currently suffering with debilitating conditions who will no longer suffer the indignity of being sick and a criminal."

    The statewide efforts of Connecticut NORML resulted in tens of thousands of phone calls, emails, patient and legislator meetings, and letters to legislators. "Patients and doctors told their stories and asked legislators to tell them ‘No, you haven’t suffered enough,’" said Williams. "Many others stressed that this bill did medical marijuana the correct way and that Connecticut had an opportunity to be a leader in America on this issue. Our strategy and dedication has obviously paid off."

    Connecticut’s bill creates guidelines and regulations for cultivation centers and dispensaries.

    Read more about Connecticut’s new medical cannabis law here.

    The New England clean sweep may happen this year with the New Hampshire legislature possibly overriding the Governor’s oft veto of their medical cannabis bills next week. In Massachusetts, this November voters are expected to approve by a large margin a medical cannabis legalization initiative (in 2008 Massachusetts voters approved a decriminalization initiative by a whopping sixty five percent).

    From west to east, the states with legal protections for lawful medical cannabis patients are: Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Colorado, Michigan, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine (as well as the District of Columbia).

    Help us reform the marijuana laws in your state by making a donation to NORML today! Together we WILL legalize cannabis.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 3, 2012

    This Week in Weed

    Click here to subscribe to NORMLtv and receive alerts whenever new content is added.

    The latest installment of “This Week in Weed” is now streaming on NORMLtv.

    This week: A new poll shows an overwhelming number of Americans are against prison for marijuana possession and two New England states move towards medical marijuana.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNoEp_v2Bgs&list=UUtg_OYeEr80cuJnCDtJ0myQ&index=1&feature=plcp[/youtube]

    Be sure to tune in to NORMLtv every week to catch up on the latest marijuana news. Subscribe to NORMLtv or follow us on Twitter to be notified as soon as new content is added.

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