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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 12, 2018

    Oklahoma voters will decide on Tuesday, June 26, on State Question 788 — a statewide voter-initiated measure that permits doctors to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to patients.

    Under the proposed plan, licensed medical marijuana patients may cultivate up to six mature plants, and may possess personal use quantities of marijuana flower, edibles, or infused concentrates.

    According to polling data released in May, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788 by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. Public support for the measure has largely held steady, even in the face of growing, organized opposition from members of law enforcement and certain business leaders. State lawmakers also attempted to preempt the initiative by passing legislation to significantly limit its scope and purpose, but that effort was eventually tabled in April.

    Under state law, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal offense — punishable by up to a year in prison. Engaging in cannabis sales is punishable by up to life in prison. According to a study released earlier this week, Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people — the highest rate in the United States.

    If Oklahoma voters pass SQ 788 in two weeks, it will become the 31st state to legalize the possession and use of cannabis by authorized patients.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 29, 2018

    State regulators today 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.

    The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits qualified patients to obtain either herbal cannabis or cannabis-infused products from a limited number state-licensed dispensaries.

    Both the Utah Medical Association and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have publicly opined against the measure. Nonetheless, public support in favor of the initiative remains strong, with 77 percent of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” endorsing the plan, according to a UtahPolicy.com poll.

    Voters in Oklahoma will also decide on a medical access initiative in a special election on Tuesday, June 26. By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788, according to polling data reported last week.

    Voters in two other states — Michigan and Missouri — are anticipated to decide on Election Day on statewide marijuana reform initiatives. Recent polling from those states finds majority public support for all three measures.

  • by NORML May 8, 2018

    Police in the Pennsylvania cities of Allentown and Bethlehem continue to arrest hundreds of residents for less than 30 grams of cannabis while opiate and cocaine arrests seem to be going down.

    Last year Allentown put 315 people into handcuffs and the courts over marijuana possession, while the city reported just 31 other drug possession arrests during 2017, according to data from the Pa. Uniform Crime Reporting System.

    Bethlehem police also favor arresting cannabis consumers, between 130 and 160 per year are caught up in the criminal justice system over a few joints. Data from Bethlehem is also showing some odd trends, with zero opiate or cocaine arrests logged in 2016 or 2017.

    “Decriminalization would seem a simple and effective option anywhere,” said Lehigh Valley NORML Director Jeff Riedy, “When you consider the human cost to those convicted of arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

    A RAND Corp. study commissioned for Vermont found that each marijuana arrest is estimated to cost taxpayers $1,266 to perform. Prosecuting each person spends another $1,000 according to some estimates.

    That means Allentown and Bethlehem spent over $1 million last year treating otherwise law abiding cannabis consumers like criminals. Thankfully the city councils in both communities have introduced ordinances to address this expensive injustice.

    “The decrim ordinances, like that in Philadelphia, have helped to remove stigma, freed up the courts and allowed law enforcement to focus on more pressing issues. We should stop ruining lives over a joint,” said Riedy.

    Lehigh Valley NORML encourages members of the press and elected officials to review the marijuana possession arrest data included with this release.

    According to Pa. State Representative Michael Schlossberg (D., Lehigh), cosponsor of two statewide decriminalization bills in Harrisburg, “It’s time to put an end to senseless mass incarceration brought on by the prohibition of marijuana. I have added my name to legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana and bring commonsense back to our criminal justice system.  Pennsylvanian’s cannot afford to continue to follow the path of failed policies which hurt individuals and communities.”

    Allentown introduced their ordinance at Council last week, and it has been moved to a Committee of the Whole, scheduled for Tuesday, May 8 at 6pm in Council Chambers. If it passes the Committee with a majority vote, the ordinance will move to the full City Council for a vote next Wednesday, May 16 at 7pm. Public opinion is encouraged both dates.

    Allentown’s proposed ordinance: http://allentownpa.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=6212844&GUID=F77277E0-5440-436B-B430-9CAC4AFFB0BD

    For more info, please contact Jeff Riedy at 610-533-0906 or via email at lehighvnorml@gmail.com. You can also follow Lehigh Valley NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 26, 2018

    Legalize MarijuanaElection officials today confirmed that proponents of a statewide ballot measure, The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, have gathered a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters to place it on the electoral ballot this November.

    Proponents of the voter-initiated measure, The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, submitted more than 360,000 signatures to qualify it for the November 2018 ballot. The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to grow and possess personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

    According to statewide polling commissioned by Michigan NORML, which is a leading member of the Coalition, 61 percent of voters say that they intend to vote yes on the measure.

    Voters in other states will also be deciding on marijuana-related ballot questions later this year. Oklahomans will decide in June on State Question 788, which permits qualified patients to access and cultivate marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Utah voters are also expected to decide on a narrower medicalization measure in November, though officials have yet to officially certify that measure for the ballot. Proponents of a medical marijuana measure in Missouri have surpassed the number of signatures required to place it on the November ballot, well ahead of the state’s May 6 deadline. In South Dakota, officials have confirmed that proponents of a 2018 medical use initiative failed to gather the necessary number of signatures to qualify for November’s ballot.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 3, 2018

    Proponents of a proposed 2018 medicalization initiative have gathered an estimated 160,000 signatures and appear poised to place the measure on the November ballot.

    Last week, a representative from the Lt. Governor’s Office said that officials have already validated 117,000 signatures from registered voters — more than than the 113,000 necessary to qualify for the state ballot. Proponents of the measure, the Utah Patients Coalition, still have approximately two more weeks to collect additional signatures.

    The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits qualified patients to obtain either herbal cannabis or cannabis-infused products from a limited number state-licensed dispensaries.

    In recent days, both the Utah Medical Association and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have publicly opined against the measure. Nonetheless, public support in favor of the initiative remains strong, with 77 percent of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” endorsing the plan, according to a March UtahPolicy.com poll.

    In 2014, Utah became the first non-medical cannabis state to explicitly permit qualified patients to possess CBD-infused products. However, that law provided no legal in-state supply source or distribution for the products. This legislative session, lawmakers approved separate legislation permitting the Department of Agriculture and Food to contract with a third party to cultivate cannabis for the purpose of manufacturing marijuana-infused oils and other related products, but only for those patients who are terminally ill.

    Utah is one of at least four states where voters are anticipated to decide later this year on marijuana-related ballot proposals. Oklahoma voters will decide on June 26 whether or not to approve State Question 788 — a broad-based initiative that permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients at their sole discretion. NORML endorsed State Question 788 in January. In Michigan, proponents of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act have turned in more than 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot. State officials must certify a total of 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters. According to a March 2018 EPIC-MRA poll, and commissioned by Michigan NORML, 61 percent of voters say that they would vote ‘yes’ on the measure “if the election were held today.” In Missouri, backers of a voter initiated effort to legalize and regulate the therapeutic use and distribution of cannabis statewide have surpassed well over 200,000 signatures. Advocates must collect a total of 160,000 qualified signatures in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts by May 6, 2018 in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.

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