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  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator February 4, 2016

     

    LATEST NORML NEWS

    State and Local:

    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!

    California:

    California NORML’s executive director questioned a recent report produced by an anti-tobacco organization that encouraged municipalities to ban the use of marijuana in public areas or in locations that must adhere to clean indoor air regulations.

    “The report vastly inflates the health hazards of smoked marijuana, but concedes that it shouldn’t be criminalized. Rather, it calls for stigmatizing it as much as possible,”
    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/LegalizationNation/archives/2016/02/03/anti-tobacco-forces-target-legal-pot-use

    As California gets closer to approving a legalization measure for this November’s ballot, some activists are raising concerns about the impact it will have on the state’s medical marijuana program.

    “If you look at the ballot initiative that’s circulating right now, it doesn’t give a lot of incentives to the medical marijuana industry except that you can avoid some of the (proposed 15 percent excise and extra cultivation) taxes if you go to some trouble.”
    http://www.sfchronicle.com/entertainment/article/Will-doctors-suffer-if-marijuana-is-legalized-6793270.php

    “We are calling for locals to repeal the bans in favor of meaningful land regulations that will enact the statewide licensing standards … in order to protect public safety, the environment and patients’ rights,”
    http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/tns-california-local-marijuana-regulations.html

    Colorado:

    Last week, Denver NORML announced they will be leading a Responsible Use initiative that will allow the limited consumption of marijuana in the City of Denver. Details are still being worked out with NORML’s national office.

    “We are willing to work with them on this issue — we just really want something to happen, we want action to take place,”
    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/pot-activists-plan-denver-initiative-to-allow-smoking-in-public-places

    “Denver NORML announced that it would be filing its own initiative to put a limited social use of marijuana item on the ballot in 2016.”
    http://www.westword.com/news/denver-norml-to-file-marijuana-social-use-initiative-for-2016-ballot-7537133

    Illinois:

    Medical marijuana patients in Illinois experienced another setback after lawmakers rejected a proposal that would have expanded access to the state’s medical marijuana program.

    “My concern is first and foremost for patients to have access to this medicine and if shops are closing then patients will have to go farther distances to get access to this medicine.”
    http://foxillinois.com/news/local/springfield-medical-marijuana-dispensary-to-open-in-february

    “By having the Illinois Department of Public Health deny the eight conditions that the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board approved to be added to the list of debilitating conditions for the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, this administration has turned their back on veterans suffering from PTSD”
    http://www.sj-r.com/article/20160201/OPINION/160209956

    Iowa:

    After a long court battle, Iowa State University NORML won a first amendment lawsuit against school administrators after an attempt to censor a marijuana leaf printed on a t-shirt.

    “Members of ISU NORML weren’t keen on being censored. They felt the administration was discriminating against their group. So on July 1, 2014, they filed a lawsuit alleging that school administrators had violated their constitutional rights.”
    https://www.civilized.life/cannabis-shirt-freedom-speech-1582756933.html

    Missouri:

    NORML KC is working hard to push an initiative that would decriminalize the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana in Kansas City.  

    “Once you start talking to people about cannabis reform, you’d be surprised how many people are for it,” Kacz said. “It doesn’t have to be Democrats or liberals, it’s Republicans, it’s religious people, it’s elderly people.”
    http://kcur.org/post/kansas-city-marijuana-reformers-working-toward-decriminalization#stream/0

    New Hampshire:

    New Hampshire NORML urged lawmakers to support a bill that would add PTSD to the state’s list of ailments for medical marijuana.

    “By stuffing opiates down people’s throats, it’s going to create a problem. You guys are going to have a heroin epidemic. You’re going to see it. And in the last two years, it is just out of control,”
    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/1/22/new-hampshire-medical-marijuana.html

    Virginia:

    With some of the stringent marijuana laws in the country, Virginia NORML continues to work with state lawmaker on a wide range of marijuana reform bills.

    “We will continue to work educating lawmakers who wish to learn more about cannabis science and widely accepted medical applications, the successful decriminalization legislation in 21 states and successful medical legislation in 24 states.”
    http://www.dailyprogress.com/starexponent/house-gop-favors-criminal-penalties-for-marijuana-possession/article_fdb5d256-c706-11e5-89c2-1b85526f966e.html

    Washington:

    Washington NORML is encouraging lawmakers to support a bill that would permit the home cultivation of marijuana.

    “NORML Washington is doing a great job leading this fight to grow your own marijuana. They have even made it possible for you to help the movement from your computer/tablet/phone. Here’s a letter they’ve put together for you to send to your representatives and urge their support for personal cultivation”
    http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/02/if-marijuana-is-legal-why-is-growing-your-own-a-felony/

    Wyoming:

    After going through a much needed reorganization, Wyoming NORML has assembled a strong team who are dedicated to passing the Peggy A. Kelley Wyoming Cannabis Act of 2016.

    “We haven’t stopped on that from day one, but in the same process we just had to get things a little more organized and get a better structure in here.”
    http://kgab.com/wyoming-norml-makes-final-push-to-get-medical-marijuana-question-on-2016-ballot/

    “NORML Wyoming spokeswoman Carrie Satterwhite said the group has the fewest number of volunteer petition circulators in the conservative northeast part of the state, but that region will be targeted in the upcoming months”
    http://www.wyomingnews.com/opinion/drake-medical-marijuana-will-improve-quality-of-life/article_a6184c86-c652-11e5-8361-4fcfb98c3a2f.html

    “Even though Wyoming NORML didn’t get enough signatures this year, members say if they have enough signatures for the 2018 ballot, medicinal marijuana could help Wyoming in the long run.”
    http://www.kcwy13.com/home/headlines/Effort-to-Legalize-Medicinal-Cannabis-367659921.html

    Federal:

    NORML’s deputy director, Paul Armentano recently spoke to reporters about the need for a common sense approach to ending the prohibition of marijuana in America.

    “This administration clearly recognizes that the present enforcement of marijuana prohibition and marijuana criminalization is out of step with both public opinion and common sense,”
    http://www.mintpressnews.com/212416-2/212416/

    NORML board member and passionate marijuana advocate will prove to be one of this year’s most effective weapon in the war against the prohibition marijuana.

    “Steves has been on the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) for years and he has worked closely with Washington pot initiative author Alison Holcomb, who now heads the American Civil Liberties Union’s Campaign for Smart Justice”
    http://crosscut.com/2016/02/rick-steves-ready-to-push-pot-nationally/

    During a recent interview, NORML’s deputy director, Paul Armentano shared his thoughts on a recent study about the health risks associated with marijuana use.

    “Ultimately, this study’s findings are consistent with the notion that while cannabis is not altogether harmless, its potential risks to health relative to other substances — including legal substances like alcohol, tobacco and prescription medications — are not so great to warrant its continued criminalization,”
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/marijuana-use-may-hurt-memory-in-middle-age/

    Events:

    2016 NORML Congressional Lobby Day

    NORML Houston Marches at the State Capital

    Illinois NORML Lobby Day Feb. 17, 2016

    Illinois NORML Lobby Day March 2, 2016chapter_spotlight

    Veterans: Operation Trapped – Year Long Project

    Texas NORML’s 3rd Annual Puff-N-Putt Spring Fling at Willie’s Golf Course

    Texas NORML’s 9th Texas Marijuana March

    Texas NORML Statewide Veteran Conference Call

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director December 11, 2015

    map_leafState legislators are pre-filing numerous marijuana reform bills in preparation for the start of the 2016 legislative season. Additionally, members of Congress are negotiating on federal funding measures that could have dramatic effects on national marijuana policy. Keep reading to below to find out what new legislative reforms are taking place in your state and what the federal budget could mean for you!

    A full list and summary of pending state and federal legislation is available here. Summaries of the dozens of marijuana law reform bills approved this year is also available here.

    Federal: Congressional leadership is deciding on the inclusion of four marijuana-specific provisions in the FY 2016 spending bill. Passage of these measures will have an important effect on the role the federal government will play (or not) in 2016 federal marijuana policy. As previously reported on by Marijuana.com here they are:

    *Prevent the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

    -Similar language was enacted last year and is current law for Fiscal Year 2015. On June 3, the House approved the amendment by a vote of 242-186 and on June 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted the amendment by a vote of 21-9.

    * Prevent the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state industrial hemp research programs.

    -Similar language was enacted last year and is current law for Fiscal Year 2015. On June 3, the House approved the amendment by a vote of 289-132 and on June 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment by a voice vote.

    * Allow doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans, and prevent the V.A. from denying services to veterans because they are medical marijuana patients in accordance with state law.

    -On April 30, the House narrowly rejected the amendment by a vote of 210-213 but on May 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment by a vote of 18-12, and its language was included in a bill passed by the full Senate on November 10.

    * Prevent the federal government from punishing banks for doing business with state-legal marijuana providers.

    -On July 23, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment to by a vote of 16-14

    Additionally, Congress will be weighing whether or not to include in the final spending package language that would bar Washington D.C. from implementing a recreational market for marijuana. Last year, Congress included language that prevented the district from taxing and selling marijuana, leading to the implementation of a grow and share program in the District.

    We are expecting to receive news of final budget negotiations next week so keep following the NORML blog for an update!

    Flag_of_Illinois.svgIllinois: House Bill 4357, legislation to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses in Illinois, is pending in the General Assembly.

    If approved, the legislation would make the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine only. Adults would no longer face criminal arrest or the threat of time in jail or a criminal record.

    Introduced by Representative Kelly Cassidy, this proposal largely mirrors legislation previously introduced in the spring of 2015 that was approved by members of both the House and Senate.

    320px-Flag_of_Missouri.svgMissouri: Senate Bill 762, which permits for the personal possession and retail sale of marijuana by those age 21 and over, has been prefiled for the 2016 legislative session. The measure permits adults to privately possess up to one ounce of cannabis without penalty. Senate Bill 762 also seeks to license the commercial production and to regulate the retail sale of marijuana for adults. To take action on this measure click here.

    House legislation has been prefiled —HB 1524 — to allow marijuana convictions to be expunged contingent upon the passage of a constitutional amendment or other statutory enactment legalizing marijuana. To take action on this measure click here.

    Senate Bill 761 has been prefiled in the Missouri legislature to exempt marijuana from certain forfeiture provisions relating to controlled substances.

    “Under current law, illegal controlled substances, anything of value exchanged for a controlled substance in violation of the law, money used to facilitate a violation of the controlled substances laws, money found in close proximity to an illegal controlled substance, and any other property used in relation to or derived from a violation of the controlled substances laws is subject to seizure and forfeiture.” This act exempts marijuana from these forfeiture provisions. To take action on this measure click here.

    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!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 1, 2015

    Strains of cannabis sativa and cannabis indica possess relatively few significant genetic differences and are often mislabeled by breeders, according to an evaluation of marijuana taxonomy published online last week in the journal PLOS ONE.

    Investigators from the University of Manitoba, the University of British Columbia, and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia evaluated the genetic structure of a diverse range of commonly cultivated marijuana and industrial hemp samples.

    Researchers reported, “We find a moderate correlation between the genetic structure of marijuana strains and their reported C. sativa and C. indica ancestry and show that marijuana strain names often do not reflect a meaningful genetic identity.” They added, “This observation suggests that C. sativa and C. indica may represent distinguishable pools of genetic diversity, but that breeding has resulted in considerable admixture between the two. … Our results suggest that the reported ancestry of some of the most common marijuana strains only partially captures their true ancestry.”

    By contrast, authors determined, “[M]arijuana and hemp are significantly differentiated at a genome-wide level, demonstrating that the distinction between these populations is not limited to genes underlying THC production. … [This] difference between marijuana and hemp plants has considerable legal implications in many countries.”

    In the United States, federal law makes no legal distinction between hemp and cannabis.

    Authors concluded: “Achieving a practical, accurate and reliable classification system for cannabis, including a variety registration system for marijuana-type plants, will require significant scientific investment and a legal framework that accepts both licit and illicit forms of this plant. Such a system is essential in order to realize the enormous potential of Cannabis as a multi-use crop (hemp) and as a medicinal plant (marijuana).”

    Full text of the study, “The genetic structure of marijuana and hemp,” appears online here.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director August 7, 2015

    voteThe National Conference of State Legislatures passed a resolution yesterday urging the federal government to amend the Controlled Substances Act and to refrain from interfering with state laws permitting the legal production and use of cannabis.

    The National Conference of State Legislatures is a bipartisan, non-governmental organization founded in 1975 to unite members of legislature’s from around the United States. The council works to improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures, promote innovative policy and communication among state legislatures, and to magnify their voice in the federal system.

    The NCSL resolves “[S]tates and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety, health, and economic development of their communities.” Members passed the resolution overwhelmingly by a voice vote.

    The vote represents a strong consensus among state lawmakers that the federal government should embrace, not impede the progress states have made to amend their marijuana laws, and encourages federal lawmakers to consider rescheduling marijuana in order for states to safely and effectively move forward in their reforms.

    Currently 23 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws on the books, and half of all US states recognize industrial hemp. Four states plus Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use.  There is no doubt states have recognized the failed efforts of marijuana prohibition and are eager to try out other policies. NORML commends the resolution adopted by the National Conference of State Legislatures and will continue to advocate for the federal government’s compliance.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 27, 2014

    Democrat Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation, House Bill 5085, authorizing state universities to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes.

    The new law takes effect in January.

    Illinois joins more than a dozen states — including Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah earlier this year — that have enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and authorizing state-sponsored research and/or cultivation of the crop.

    In February, federal lawmakers approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant. 

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