Smigiel, a former delegate in Maryland’s House of Delegates serving from 2003-2015, is challenging incumbent and anti-marijuana Congressman Andy Harris in the Republican primary. Congressman Harris became infamous for stepping between Washington D.C. and marijuana legalization when he attached a rider to an annual spending bill barring the district from implementing a recreational market following the District’s approval of Initiative 71.
Smigiel on the other hand is a strong marijuana advocate, having sponsored a bill in Maryland that passed in 2014 to decriminalize marijuana. He supports eliminating all criminal penalties for the responsible use of marijuana by adults and additionally, supports state’s rights to move forward with full legalization.
“Mike is an ardent supporter of marijuana law reform and has worked across party lines to implement real policy change in Maryland. NORML is proud to support his bid for Congress and we are looking forward to having another ally on Capitol Hill.” says NORML Political Director Danielle Keane.
Recent polling shows that 58% of the voters in the 1st District would not vote for Andy Harris if they knew he was opposed to the decriminalization of Marijuana. If Mike Smigiel can get that message out he can unseat Andy Harris. You can find out more about Mike and his campaign by visiting his website or Facebook and if you wish to join NORML in supporting his campaign click here.
For more information on the NORML PAC click here.
Fifty-two percent of registered voters support legalizing marijuana “for recreational use,” according to national tracking poll data compiled by Morning Consult — a Washington DC consulting firm. Forty-three percent of respondents polled said that they oppose legalization and five percent were undecided.
Respondents between the ages of 18 to 29 (63 percent), Democrats (61 percent), and those aged 30 to 44 (60 percent) were most likely to support legalization. Republicans (37 percent) and those age 65 or older (36 percent) were least likely to be supportive.
In response to separate polling questions, 68 percent of respondents said that they support legalizing marijuana “for medical use.” Fifty-nine percent endorse decriminalizing marijuana, defined as “no arrest, prison time, or criminal record for the first-time possession of a small amount,” and 83 percent of respondents said that cannabis did not belong classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law.
The poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 2 percent.
The Morning Consult polling data is similar to those of other recent national polls, such as those by reported by Gallup, CBS, and Pew, finding that a majority of Americans now support ending marijuana prohibition.
We’ve got news from all levels of government this week! International, federal, state, and local law reform changes are all being considered. Keep reading below to see if any pending reforms would affect you or your community!
Tim Faron, leader of one of Great Britain’s main political parties, called for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use this week. He also announced that his party would be imminently releasing a report making the case for a legalized market for sales. The Liberal Democrats leader said: “I personally believe the war on drugs is over. We must move from making this a legal issue to one of health. The prime minister used to agree with me on the need for drug reform. It’s time he rediscovered his backbone and made the case again.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote a letter this week to the head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urging the agency to research cannabis access as a potential mitigating factor in opioid abuse. Population data from states where medicinal cannabis is permitted report lower rates of opioid-abuse and mortality as compared to those states where the plant is prohibited. Clinical data and case reports also indicate that the adjunctive use of cannabis may wean patients from opiates while successfully managing their pain. Survey data of state qualified medical cannabis patients indicate that subjects with access to the plant often substitute it for opioids because they perceive it to possess fewer adverse side effects.
Also, Senate members this week introduced The Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success Act, or SUCCESS Act, which repeals language in the Higher Education Act that strips students of financial aid because of a past drug offense, and removes the drug conviction question from the FAFSA form. #TakeAction
California: The California Medical Association has officially endorsed the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, a pending statewide ballot initiative that seeks to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use and sales in the state. The California Medical Association represents more than 41,000 physician members statewide. Additionally, the NAACP California chapter has also endorsed the initiative.
Illinois: Legislation, HB 6199, is pending in the General Assembly to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the definition of ‘debilitating medical condition’ and to allow state-registered medical cannabis patients to retain gun ownership rights. #TakeAction
Mississippi: Senate legislation was introduced this week to permit qualified patients to legally possess and cultivate cannabis. Senate Bill 2358 permits patients with a “debilitating medical condition” to engage in marijuana therapy in accordance with a physician’s recommendation. The measure also reschedules marijuana under state law. #TakeAction
New Mexico: Legislation opposed by NORML, HB 195 has narrowly passed the House of Representatives. The bill would prohibit workers compensation insurers from reimbursing employees who qualify for medical cannabis access for injuries sustained on the job. The measure now awaits Senate action. Please contact your Senate member today and urge him or her to vote ‘no’ on HB 195 and/or its companion measure SB 245. #TakeAction
New Jersey: Legislation was introduced this week to end workplace discrimination against medical marijuana patients. Assembly Bill 2482, if enacted, would halt employers from taking adverse employment actions against authorized medical marijuana patients who engage in the plant’s use during their off-hours. #TakeAction
Pennsylvania: A local decriminalization ordinance is being considered by the Harrisburg City Council. The council’s public safety committee plans to hold a public hearing on the matter in the coming weeks. If you live in Harrisburg, contact your City Council member and urge their support for this measure! We’ll keep you updated as this measure moves forward.
Vermont: Members of the Senate are anticipated to decide imminently on legislation to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of cannabis. Media reports indicate that the floor vote could come the week of February 16. The vote is expected to be a close one; therefore, we are urging supporters to contact their Senate members over the coming days and to urge them to vote ‘yes’ for Senate Bill 241. If approved by the Senate, the bill will face further debate in the House. #TakeAction
Virginia: Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, Senate Bill 327, to amend state law so that first time, minor marijuana offenders no longer face the loss of their driver’s license. Under existing law, marijuana possession offenses may be punishable by the loss of driving privileges, even in cases where the offense did not take place in a motor vehicle. Passage of SB 327 would end this practice. #TakeAction
Washington D.C.: Members of the D.C. Counsel this week approved a measure that would prohibit potential employers in the District from testing applicants for marijuana until after they’ve made a conditional job offer. Councilmember Vincent Orange, who sponsored the measure said, “District residents shouldn’t have to worry about lost job opportunities just because they’ve smoked pot, especially now that the city has voted to legalize marijuana possession.” The measure is still under congressional review.
LATEST NORML NEWS
Everyday NORML Affiliates and Chapters from around the country invest countless hours into contacting representatives, hosting events, and talking to voters, all with the hope of passing meaningful marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level! In an effort to highlight their hard work and accomplishments, we will feature their stories on NORML.org and promote the content through our social media channels. To get involved in your area, please send an email to KevinM@NORML.org to get started today!
Municipal and State
“Mikel Weisser, new National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws state director, plans to rebuild Arizona’s fractured NORML in anticipation of a vote to legalize pot for adult use in November.”
New Arizona NORML Director Committed To Fixing Fractured Marijuana Community
“Dale Gieringer, director of California’s NORML chapter, said a benefit of the loophole is that it has prompted jurisdictions to explore cultivation regulations sooner than they might have.”
San Diego Rushes To Establish Rules On Marijuana Cultivation
“Ali Nagib, assistant director of Illinois NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), expressed to the Cannabis Career Institute the importance of leveraging the estimated $500 million hemp industry for domestic economic growth”
Legalizing Weed: 4 Facts About Illinois’ Legalization of Industrial Hemp Farming
“I’m glad that they’re taking that step,” Harcus said. “It moves us closer toward full legalization, which is really the only solution to end prohibition.”
Proposal Would Sync Mpls. Marijuana Law With State
“Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML Patrick K. Nightingale challenged Board Member of Colorado NORML Chris Chiari to a friendly wager on the Steelers/Broncos game this coming weekend and the stakes are as you can say HIGH!”
Pittsburgh NORML Bets Colorado NORML On Steelers/Broncos Game
“According to Pittsburgh NORML, nearly 1,000 people are charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in Pittsburgh each year. Under Pennsylvania state law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance
“Members of the Southeast Texas NORML chapter met Thursday night to go over a new law across the state, the Compassionate Use Act.”
Local Marijuana Reform Advocacy Group Plans Efforts for Upcoming Year
“People who simply are arrested for possession without any evidence of violent behavior,” said Pamela Novy with Virginia NORML, a nonprofit aimed at reforming marijuana laws across the country.”
8News Daily Poll: Should marijuana be decriminalized in Va.?
“Members of Wyoming NORML repeatedly have called for reforms to make the state’s initiative process easier on groups that are trying to get questions on the ballot.”
Pushing an Issue May Get Even Tougher in Wyoming
“Does smoking cannabis pose similar dangers to lung health? According to a number of recent scientific findings, marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke vary considerably in their health effects.”
What Are the Risks of Marijuana Smoke, Compared to Tobacco?
“Marijuana consumers do not typically use cannabis and alcohol in combination with one another, regardless of whether they are consuming cannabis for medicinal or social purposesPeople Don’t Mix Alcohol & Marijuana as Often as You Might Think
“NORML’s Armentano told MintPress that marijuana arrests have fallen in some states as a result of legalization or loosening of laws. At the same time, though, some states have seen increases in marijuana-related arrests — including Virginia”
Clemency Is Not Enough: Thousands Still Imprisoned For Nonviolent Marijuana Crimes
“Similarly, the DNC chair is no stranger to coddling up to Big Booze. Presently, representatives of the beer and wine industry rank as the fifth largest donor to Wasserman-Schultz’s re-election campaign. Until leading politicians wean themselves off booze, expect them to keep maligning pot.”
Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug, So Why Do Leading Republicans and Democrats Say Otherwise?
Kevin Mahmalji is NORML’s national outreach and chapter coordinator
The momentum for marijuana law reform continues this week with new legislation introduced in Illinois and Virginia, updates on pending legislation in Alaska, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, and an exciting update from abroad! Keep reading below to find out about the latest legislative developments and what actions YOU can take to move forward in ending prohibition!
Germany introduced legislation this week to legalize medical marijuana use. The bill titled, “Cannabis as Medicine” permits doctor to prescribe cannabis for patients in a manner similar to other prescription medications.Additionally, under the proposed law, the cost of the medicine in certain cases would be covered by health insurance. Cannabis would be cultivated under a federal license and be dispensed in pharmacies.
Alaska: Lawmakers are setting a national precedent by regulating the adult use of cannabis in licensed, public facilities. No other state to date permits public cannabis consumption, which will remain subject to both state and local approval.
Illinois: Companion legislation to House bill 4357 is pending in the Senate to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses in Illinois. This proposal largely mirrors legislation previously introduced in the spring of 2015 that was approved by members of both the House and Senate, but was ultimately vetoed by the Governor.
To contact your lawmakers in support of this legislation click here.
Patients and advocates in the state are also increasing pressure on state health officials to expand the list of qualifying conditions permitted under the state’s medical marijuana program.
Late last year, the state Medical Cannabis Advisory Board recommended letting people suffering from PTSD, chronic pain and autism, among other conditions, legally use medical cannabis. But the state Department of Public Health still must decide on whether or not to add any additional qualifying conditions.
Click here to sign a petition urging them to expand access to medical marijuana in the state!
Maryland: Maryland NORML and their associates in the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland need your help to override Governor Hogan’s veto of 2015 legislation (SB517) that sought to decriminalize the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Under this measure, the possession of paraphernalia specific to the use of marijuana would have no longer been classified as a criminal offense. Click here to email your Representatives and urge them to override the Governor’s veto on this important legislation.
Pennsylvania: Governor Tom Wolf again encouraged lawmakers to pass medical cannabis legislation. His staff has stated, “It was a top priority in 2015 for the governor and remains a top priority for 2016. We should not be denying a doctor recommended, scientifically proven treatment.”
Legislation is currently pending in the state to allow patients, including those with intractable pain, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, and other qualifying conditions, access to certain cannabis-infused products, such as oils or pills.
Senators previously approved the legislation, but House members have continued to oppose it, adding more than 100 amendments to the bill — most of which seek to make it completely ineffective.
To learn more, click here.
Vermont: Senate Bill 241, sponsored by Senator Jeannette White and Senate Bill 95 , sponsored by Senator David Zuckerman, will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, January 19th. Both bills seek to legalize and regulate the use of marijuana by adults.
Statewide polling reports that 57 percent of Vermont voters support legalizing and regulating marijuana production and sales.
Democratic Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has expressed support for regulating cannabis, having stated , “My bias on legalization is toward legalization. Let’s remember, we have this conversation and we pretend that you can’t get marijuana now. In the real world, folks, if you want to get marijuana in Vermont, we’re in Lala Land if we’re pretending you can’t. The question is how do we move to a smarter approach that doesn’t promote addiction, that doesn’t promote abuse and really accepts the reality.”
Click here to contact your lawmakers and urge their support for legalization in Vermont!
Virginia: Two additional decriminalization bills were introduced this week in the Virginia General Assembly. House bill 997, introduced by Delegate Mark Levine and House bill 1074, introduced by Delegate Steve Heretick. Both measures seek to decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana.
This makes a total of three bills filed so far this legislative session that seek to eliminate criminal penalties for the simple possession of marijuana.
Click here to contact your lawmakers and urge their support for these common sense reforms!
Additional information for these and other pending legislative measures may be found at our #TakeAction Center!
** 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!