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

    thumbs_upRepublican Gov. Phil Scott publicly announced at a news conference that he intends to sign legislation into law legalizing the use and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults. The Governor vetoed similar legislation last year.

    House Bill 511 eliminates existing civil penalties specific to the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, and also removes criminal penalties with regard to the private cultivation of six marijuana plants (two mature and up to four immature). Those who cultivate marijuana for their own personal use may possess at home the total quantity of their harvest.

    The measure also imposes new civil penalties for consuming cannabis while driving, and imposes additional penalties for those who operate a motor vehicle impaired with a minor in the vehicle.

    “We’ll take a look at it to make sure it’s technically correct, and then I’ll sign the bill,” Scott said during a Statehouse press conference yesterday. “This is a libertarian approach. I’ve said I’m not philosophically opposed to it. I know there are diverse opinions … as to whether we should move forward, but I still firmly believe that what you do in your own home should be your business, as long as it doesn’t affect someone else.”

    Vermont will be the first state to legislatively act to eliminate both criminal and civil penalties for personal marijuana possession and growing.

    Once signed, the new law will take effect July 1, 2018.

  • by NORML January 10, 2018

    thumbs_upToday, the Vermont state Senate approved a measure that would legalize the possession and limited home cultivation of marijuana. Under this legislation, H. 511, individuals 21 years of age or older would be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate a limited amount for personal use.

    “While prohibitionists like Attorney General Jeff Sessions desperately try to force our country to return to the dark ages, his flailing seems to be for naught, as Vermont is now positioned to be the first state to legalize marijuana possession by legislative action,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “The American people have made their position clear, it is time to move away from the failed policies of the past and to move in the sensible direction of legalization. Vermont will likely be the first state to take such an action this year, it is unlikely to be the last with New Jersey, Delaware, New Hampshire, Connecticut and others likely to give legalization legislation serious consideration during the 2018 legislative session.”

    H. 511 was approved by the state’s lower chamber last week in a 81-63 vote. Now that it has passed the state Senate, the bill will be sent to Governor Phil Smith for his signature. Despite vetoing a similar effort last year, Governor Scott has stated he would likely sign this renewed effort.

    Passage of legalization in Vermont in 2018 would be a legislative first. To date, all eight states that have enacted legalization of the adult use of marijuana, as well as the District of Columbia have done so by a direct vote of the people.

    One in five Americans reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal under state statute, and the majority of citizens reside someplace where the medical use of cannabis is legally authorized. As is evidenced by Vermont lawmakers’ actions, it is clear that the Trump administration is not going to be able to cease this momentum in favor of the enactment of rational marijuana policies.

    “For the second time in two years, Vermont lawmakers have rejected the failed Flat Earth policies of marijuana prohibition,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said,”The majority of Vermonters, like the majority of the American public, desire to live in a community where responsible adults who choose to consume cannabis are no longer criminalized or stigmatized. Governor Scott would be wise to provide Vermonters with this path forward, rather than cling to the failed policies of the past.”

    WANT TO CHANGE THE MARIJUANA LAWS IN YOUR STATE? CLICK HERE TO EASILY WRITE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS IN SUPPORT OF REFORM.

  • by NORML January 9, 2018

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    UPDATE 01/09/18 1:30 PM Eastern: New Hampshire House Leadership, instead of sending the approved bill directly to the state Senate, has referred the legislation back to the House Ways and Means Committee. Now, either the committee declines to take action and sends the bill to the state Senate or holds hearings on the bill before sending it back to the House floor for another full vote.

    This morning, in a direct rebuke to the bluster coming from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 207 to 139 in favor of a measure that would legalize the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of 3 mature plants for adults 21 years of age or over. This legislation is similar to a measure passed by members of the House of Representatives in neighboring Vermont last week. Both measures now await action by their respective state Senates, with a vote in Vermont expected for later today.

    A broader legalization bill, which included commercial cultivation and retail sales, was voted down in a New Hampshire House committee last November. Today, state Representatives voted to overturn that initial vote and amended that legislation to only include the legalization of personal possession and cultivation. Currently, there is a standing legislative study committee in the state that is researching and reviewing the potential of legalized commercial marijuana in New Hampshire and is expected to give recommendations later this year.

    “Despite the best attempts by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice to intimidate state governments, the recent votes in Vermont and New Hampshire demonstrate that legislators are ignoring this bluster and are standing up for the will of the people,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “An overwhelming majority of Americans want to see marijuana legalized and their elected officials are smartly siding with this broad public opinion and sensible policy direction over the Reefer Madness being spouted by Attorney General Sessions.”

    NORML will keep you updated as these and other legislative reform efforts advance.

    TAKE ACTION IN SUPPORT OF MARIJUANA REFORM LEGISLATION IN YOUR STATE HERE.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director January 8, 2018

    At an event over the weekend, Kansas State Representative Steve Alford (R) defended the continuation of marijuana prohibition by reverting to the kind of overtly racist rhetoric originally deployed by Henry Anslinger when this failed policy was first implemented.

    It is important to remember: Marijuana prohibition perpetuates institutional racism and is itself being perpetuated by racists.

    “What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas (and) across the United States,” Kansas Rep. Steve Alford said. “What was the reason why they did that? One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off to those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that.”

    Watch the video:

    Read more here.

    You can share your thoughts with him here (since they apparently don’t have social media back in 1928):
    j.stephen.alford@house.ks.gov

    Help us fight back against this unacceptable and disgusting ideology. Click HERE to send your Senators a message in support of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would deschedule marijuana and begin to dial back the devastating impact our nation’s war on marijuana has had on communities across the country.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 1, 2017

    personal_cultivationSales of alcoholic beverages decline following the enactment of medical marijuana access laws, according to a working paper authored by a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University.

    Authors evaluated the relationship between medical marijuana laws and retail alcohol sales for more than 2,000 US counties for the years 2006 to 2015. Alcohol sales trends in medical cannabis states were compared to sales trends in states where cannabis remained illegal. Researchers determined that counties located in medical cannabis states, on average, experienced a reduction in monthly alcohol sales of 15 percent.

    Researchers concluded: “We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes. … States legalizing medical marijuana use experience significant decreases in the aggregate sale of alcohol, beer and wine. Moreover, the effects are not short-lived, with significant reductions observed up to 24 months after the passage of the law.”

    Consumer trend data from California reports that those with legal access to cannabis frequently reduce their alcohol intake. A 2016 analysis of beer sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington reported that retail sales “collectively underperformed” in the years following the enactment of adult use marijuana regulation.

    Full text of the study, “Helping settle the marijuana and alcohol debate: Evidence from scanner data,” appears online here.

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