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Connecticut

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 26, 2012

    Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in nearly 30 states this 2012 legislative session. Is your state among them? Find out here.

    More importantly, have you taken the time to call or write your state elected officials this year and urged them to support these pending reforms? If not, NORML has provided you with all of the tools to do so via our capwiz ‘Take Action Center’ here. (FYI: NORML’s capwiz page is specific to legislation only, not ballot initiative efforts. A summary pending 2012 ballot initiative campaigns may be found at NORML’s Legalize It 2012 page on Facebook here or on the NORML blog here.)

    Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — where we spotlight specific examples of pending marijuana law reform legislation from around the country.

    ** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and to make the changes they want to see. Get active; get NORML!

    California: Democrat Assemblywoman Norma Torres is sponsoring legislation, AB 2552, that seeks to criminalize anyone who operates a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of marijuana or its metabolites in their system, regardless of whether their psychomotor performance is demonstrably impaired. NORML is opposing this measure, which has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Public Safety. More information about this legislation is available from California NORML or via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    Connecticut: Legislation that seeks to allow for the limited legalization of medical marijuana by qualified patients is moving forward in the Connecticut state legislature. On Wednesday, March 21, members of the Judiciary Committee voted 35 to 8 in favor of the measure, Raised Bill 5389. NORML thanks all of you who contacted your elected officials ahead of this important vote.

    The Committee vote follows on the heels of the release of a statewide Quinnipiac University Poll of over 1,600 residents which reported that 68 percent of voters endorse the measure. According to the poll, “there is no gender, partisan, income, age or education group opposed” to legalizing marijuana as a physician-recommended therapy.

    To receive future e-mail updates on the progress of this legislation and what you can do to assure its passage, please contact Erik Williams, Connecticut NORML Executive Director, here.

    New Hampshire: Members of the Senate Committee on Health voted 5-0 last week in favor of Senate Bill 409, which allows for the limited legalization of medical marijuana by qualified patients, on March 23rd. SB 409 now awaits a vote on the Senate floor, which may come as soon as this week. [UPDATE!] On Wednesday, March 27th, members of the Republican-led New Hampshire State Senate voted 13-11 in favor of Senate Bill 409. You can watch lawmakers reaction to the vote here. As amended, qualified patients would be able to possess up to four cannabis plants and/or six ounces of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. SB 409 now awaits action from the House of Representatives, House Health and Human Services Committee. To become involved in the statewide campaign effort in favor of SB 409, contact NH Compassion here or visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    Rhode Island: Legislation seeking to reduce marijuana possession penalties has been reintroduced in both chambers of the Rhode Island legislature. 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. A recent statewide poll, conducted in January by the Public Policy Polling Firm, shows that 65 percent of Rhode Island’s residents approve of this change.

    On Tuesday, March 27, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony in favor of the measure. Last week, members of the House Judiciary Committee held similar hearings. NORML submitted written testimony in favor of the measure to the Committee.

    Separate legislation to regulate the adult sale and use of marijuana is also pending in both chambers, and will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow.

    Additional information about these measures is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    [UPDATE] Tennessee: The House version of legislation, the “Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act”, that seeks to allow for the use of medical marijuana passed out of Committee on Tuesday, March 27. The bill now goes to the full House Health and Human Resources Committee, which will hear the measure on Wednesday, April 4, at 1:30pm. In past years, similar legislation has gained significant legislative support. NORML had previously retained a state lobbyist to work on behalf of the medicinal cannabis issue in the state legislature, and many Tennessee lawmakers have expressed support authorizing patients’ access to marijuana therapy. Now lawmakers need to hear from you. You can contact your lawmakers about this legislation via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 16, 2012

    Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in nearly 30 states this 2012 legislative session. Is your state among them? Find out here.

    More importantly, have you taken the time to call or write your state elected officials this year and urged them to support these pending reforms? If not, NORML has provided you with all of the tools to do so via our capwiz ‘Take Action Center’ here. (FYI: NORML’s capwiz page is specific to legislation only, not ballot initiative efforts. A summary pending 2012 ballot initiative campaigns may be found at NORML’s Legalize It 2012 page on Facebook here or on the NORML blog here.)

    Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — where we spotlight specific examples of pending marijuana law reform legislation from around the country.

    ** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and to make the changes they want to see. Get active; get NORML!

    Connecticut: Connecticut NORML co-hosted a press conference at the state capitol last week in support of Raised Bill 5389. You can view media coverage of the event here.

    Last year, Connecticut NORML played a key role in the passage of legislation decriminalizing the possession of minor amounts of marijuana. This year, Connecticut NORML is once again leading the charge for marijuana law reform. An initial vote on Raised Bill 5389 may come as early as next week. You can learn more about this effort, contact your state elected officials, and learn when forthcoming hearings and votes are pending by clicking here and by joining Connecticut NORML here.

    Massachusetts: Lawmakers recently heard testimony in support of House Bill 1371, which seeks to regulate the commercial production and distribution of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. You can contact your state elected officials regarding this legislation here. You can join the campaign to reform Massachusetts’ marijuana laws by contacting Mass/Cann NORML here.

    New Hampshire: Statewide legislation that seeks to remove the threat of arrest for minor marijuana possession offenses is moving forward in the New Hampshire legislature. Last Friday, members of the state House of Representatives narrowly passed legislation, House Bill 1526, to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses. The measure reduces marijuana possession penalties (up to one half ounce) from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one-year in jail and a $2,000 fine to a civil infraction punishable by no more than a $250 fine and no criminal record. The proposal now awaits action from the Senate. You can contact your state Senator regarding the measure here.

    Separate legislation — Senate Bill 409, which seeks to authorize qualified patients to grow and possess limited amounts of cannabis for therapeutic purposes — remains pending in the state Senate. Senate Health Committee lawmakers heard testimony regarding this measure last week (Watch the full hearing here.) and are expected to vote on the measure on Thursday, March 22. You can support this measure here and become involved in the campaign here.

    Tennessee: House lawmakers on Tuesday, March 20, will hear testimony in favor of legislation — House Bill 294, the “Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act” — which seeks to allow for the the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana. Its Senate companion bill is SB 251. Tuesday’s hearing is scheduled for 10:30am at the state capitol before the House Health and Human Resources Subcommittee.

    In past years, similar legislation has gained significant legislative support. Tennessee NORML (Contact them here.) had previously retained a state lobbyist to work on behalf of the medicinal cannabis issue in the state legislature, and many Tennessee lawmakers have expressed support authorizing patients’ access to marijuana therapy. Now lawmakers need to hear from you. You can contact your members of the state House and Senate in favor of these measures here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 6, 2012

    Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in nearly 30 states this 2012 legislative session. Is your state among them? Find out here.

    More importantly, have you taken the time to call or write your state elected officials this year and urged them to support these pending reforms? If not, NORML has provided you with all of the tools to do so via our capwiz ‘Take Action Center’ here. (FYI: NORML’s capwiz page is specific to legislation only, not ballot initiative efforts. A summary pending 2012 ballot initiative campaigns may be found at NORML’s Legalize It 2012 page on Facebook here or on the NORML blog here.)

    Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — where we spotlight specific examples of pending marijuana law reform legislation from around the country.

    ** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and to make the changes they want to see. Get active; get NORML!


    Connecticut: Lawmakers on Wednesday, March 7, will hear testimony in favor of Raised Bill 5389, to allow for the limited legalization of medical marijuana by qualified patients. State lawmakers previously passed medicinal cannabis reform legislation in 2007, only to have it vetoed by then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Present Gov. Dannel Malloy is a supporter of marijuana law reform.

    Last year, Connecticut NORML played a key role in the passage of legislation decriminalizing the possession of minor amounts of marijuana. This year, Connecticut NORML is once again leading the charge for marijuana law reform. Our affiliate will be co-hosting a press conference at the State Capitol tomorrow featuring patients, advocates, and doctors. To become involved in this statewide campaign, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here and contact Erik Williams at Connecticut NORML here.

    Maryland: Members of the House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from NORML’s Executive Director Allen St. Pierre and others this Friday, March 9, in support of legislation to allow for the use of cannabis as a medicine. To support this effort, please click here.

    Massachusetts: Lawmakers today heard testimony in favor of House Bill 1371, The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act, which seeks to regulate the commercial production and distribution of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. You can read more about this legislation here. You can join the campaign to reform Massachusetts’ marijuana laws by contacting Mass/Cann NORML here.

    New Hampshire: Members of the Senate Committee on Health will hear testimony on Thursday, March 8, regarding Senate Bill 409, which allows for the limited legalization of medical marijuana by qualified patients. As introduced, qualified patients would be able to possess up to 18 marijuana plants and/or six ounces of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. State lawmakers have previously passed similar legislation. To assure that this year’s measure has enough support to withstand a potential veto by the Governor, it is vital that advocates are in touch with their state elected officials in support of this effort. You can take action here and join the statewide campaign by contact NH Compassion here.

    Separate legislation, HB 1526, seeking to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses has been endorsed by the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and now awaits a vote from the full House. You can take action on this measure here.

    A third measure, HB 1705, which seeks to establish a regulated cannabis market governing the wholesale production and sale of marijuana, also awaits action from the full House.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 29, 2011

    #1 NORML Sues to Halt Government’s Prosecution of Medical Cannabis Providers
    In October, the United States Deputy Attorney General, along with the four US Attorneys from California, announced their intentions to escalate federal efforts targeting the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries and providers. In response, members of the NORML Legal Committee filed suit in November against the federal government arguing that its actions were in violation of the Ninth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution. Plaintiffs further argued, using the theory of judicial estoppel, that the Justice Department had previously affirmed in federal court that it would no longer use federal resources to prosecute cannabis patients or providers who are compliant with state law. NORML’s lawsuit remains pending. Read the full story here.

    #2 Members of Congress Introduce First Bill Since 1937 to Legalize Cannabis
    House lawmakers introduced legislation in Congress in June to end the federal criminalization of the personal use of marijuana. The bipartisan measure – HR 2306, the ‘Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011′ – prohibits the federal government from prosecuting adults who use or possess cannabis by removing the plant and its primary psychoactive constituent, THC, from the five schedules of the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The bill awaits Congressional action. Read the full story here.

    #3 Gallup: Majority of Americans Support Legalizing Cannabis
    A record 50 percent of Americans now believe that marijuana ought to be legalized for adult use, according to a nationwide Gallup poll of 1,005 adults published in October. The 2011 survey results mark the first time ever that Gallup has reported that more Americans support legalizing cannabis (50 percent) than oppose it (46 percent). Read the full story here.

    #4 Over One Million Americans Now Use Cannabis Legally Under State Law
    Between one million to one-and-a-half million US citizens are legally authorized by the laws of their state to use marijuana, according to data compiled in May by NORML from state medical marijuana registries and patient estimates. Read the full story here.

    #5 Marijuana Prosecutions For 2010 Near Record High
    Police made 853,838 arrests in 2010 for marijuana-related offenses according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, released in September. The annual arrest total is among the highest ever reported by the agency. Marijuana arrests now comprise more than one-half (52 percent) of all drug arrests in the United States. Read the full story here.

    #6 Largest State Doctors Association Calls For Legalizing Cannabis
    The California Medical Association in October called for the “legalization and regulation” of cannabis for adults. The association, which represents some 35,000 physicians, recommends that cannabis be taxed and regulated “in a manner similar to alcohol.” Read the full story here.

    #7 Connecticut Decriminalizes Cannabis Possession Offenses
    Statewide legislation took effect in July reducing the penalties for the adult possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a $150 fine, no arrest or jail time, and no criminal record. Read the full story here.

    #8 Vaporized Cannabis Augments Analgesic Effect of Opiates in Humans
    Vaporized cannabis significantly augments the analgesic effects of opiates in patients with chronic pain, according to clinical trial data published online in the journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics in November. Investigators surmised that cannabis-specific interventions “may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer [patient] side effects.” Read the full story here.

    #9 State Governors Call on Obama Administration to Reclassify Cannabis
    In December, governors from Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington formally requested the Obama administration to reclassify cannabis under federal law in a manner that would allow states to regulate its therapeutic use without federal interference. The administration in July had previously rejected a nine-year-old petition calling on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance without any ‘accepted medical use in treatment.’ Read the full story here.

    #10 Delaware Becomes 16th State to Legalize Limited Medical Use of Marijuana
    State lawmakers in May approved legislation to allow patients with a qualifying illness may legally possess up to six ounces of cannabis, provided the cannabis is obtained from a state-licensed, not-for-profit ‘compassion center.’ The law is anticipated to be implemented in 2012. Read the full story here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 8, 2011

    The federal government has once again released its state-by-state estimate of self-reported licit and illicit substance use. You can download the full report here.

    Once again, the northeast leads the nation in self-reported marijuana use in practically every measurable category.

    Among states reporting ‘marijuana use in the past year among persons aged 12 and older,’ Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont all rank in the top percentile. (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, and Oregon round out the list.) Among states reporting ‘marijuana use in the past year among youths age 12 to 17,’ Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont top the list (along with Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Oregon).

    The totals in the category ‘marijuana use in the past year among persons age 18 to 25‘ is even more New England-centric, with every northeast state (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) all included in the top percentile (along with Alaska, Colorado, New York, and Oregon). In the category, ‘marijuana use in the past month among persons age 26 or older‘ Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont top the list (along with Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, and Oregon).

    The findings are notable because they are consistent from previous years and provide plenty of fodder for combating numerous drug warrior myths and stereotypes (such as the notion that high rates of illicit drug use — yes, the New England states lead in this broader category too — are typically relegated to poorer, urban, more racially diverse areas).

    They also call into question the notion that marijuana use among the general population is in any way influenced by the legal status of marijuana. State criminal penalties for cannabis vary widely across the New England states. For instance, Maine’s decriminalization law (possession of up to 2.5 ounces is a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine) is among the most liberal in the country. Conversely, New Hampshire (up to one year in jail) and Rhode Island (up to one year in jail and a six month driver’s license suspension) maintain relatively strict penalties. Yet regardless of state law, marijuana use remains similar throughout the region.

    Likewise, nationally, Mississippi and Nebraska — which enjoy some of the most liberal marijuana laws (simple possession is a summons and a civil violation, respectively) — also rank among the lowest rates of self-reported cannabis use.

    You can review the state-by-state maps for yourself here.

    One final note, it should be noted that despite the prevalence of medical marijuana states in these rankings, the authors of the report acknowledge that there is no evidence that the implementation of medi-pot laws is increasing the use of cannabis or other illicit drugs. As noted in the study’s press release:

    “Current illicit drug use dropped among adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 17 states between 2002-2003 and 2008-2009 — no increases in current illicit drug use occurred in any state in this age group over this time period.”

    This is a point that NORML has made repeatedly, most recently in response to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske’s false claims. The Marijuana Policy Project also has a newly updated report thoroughly rebuking this claim here.

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