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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 16, 2009

    Below is this week’s summary of pending state legislation and tips on how you can become involved in changing the marijuana laws in your state.

    Washington: A dozen lawmakers introduced legislation (HB 1177) this week to reclassifying (read: decriminalize) the possession of up to forty grams of marijuana to a class 2 civil infraction. Passage of this bill would reduce the penalties on minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine to a monetary penalty of no more than $100. According to data provided by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, enacting this policy would save state taxpayers over $7.5 million annually. Residents in Washington are strongly encouraged to contact their House members in support of HB 1177 via NORML’s online advocacy system.

    Montana: There has been a flurry of legislative activity this week pertaining to the medical use of marijuana. First the good news. House Bill 73, an act to revise the state’s medical marijuana law, has been referred to the House Human Services Committee. If passed, this proposal would benefit Montana patients by expanding the pool of health care providers who may legally recommend marijuana therapy under state law to include physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

    Now the bad news. Senate Bill 212, an act to impose a lifetime ban on qualified medical cannabis patients who commit certain driving indiscretions, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If passed, this proposal would sanction patients found to be operating a motor vehicle with even trace levels of THC (above 1 ng/ml) in their blood by disqualifying them for life from the state’s medical marijuana program.

    Both measures will be heard by legislators next week. It is important that lawmakers hear from you. If you live in Montana, you can show your support HB 73 by going here. You can voice your opposition to SB 212 by going here. For more information on attending next week’s hearings, please contact: info@mtmjpatients.org.

    New Jersey: In the coming weeks, the Senate is expected to vote on Senate Bill 119, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, which seeks to make New Jersey the fourteenth state to allow for the physician-supervised use of medicinal cannabis. Governor Jon Corzine backs the measure, as do many of the state’s largest newspapers. Residents in New Jersey are strongly encouraged to contact their senators in support of SB 119 via NORML’s online advocacy system.

    Missouri: Ten lawmakers have introduced legislation (HB 277) to legalize the medical use of marijuana in Missouri. If passed, this measure would “give medical marijuana patients the same rights as other pharmaceutically medicated individuals.” You can learn more about the measure via NORML’s online advocacy system.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 23, 2008

    Below is this week’s summary of pending state legislation and tips to help you become involved in changing the laws in your state.

    Ohio: Legislation was introduced this week in the state Senate to legalize the medical use of cannabis to authorized patients. The Ohio Medical Compassion Act is modeled after existing medical cannabis laws in twelve other states.  Tonya Davis of the Ohio Patient Network discusses the new bill on NORML’s Daily Audio Stash here.

    California: Legislation seeking to halt the role of state and local police in assisting in the US Justice Department in carrying out arrests and prosecutions against state-authorized medical marijuana patients and providers is scheduled for a vote by the full Assembly. As amended, Assembly Bill 2743 would prohibit state and local law inforcement personnel from “assisting in federal raids, arrests, investigations, or prosecutions [of] marijuana-related offenses … if the target is … covered under state medical marijuana laws.” A similar resolution is also pending in the Senate. Californians can support both bills via NORML’s online advocacy system.

    New Jersey: The state Health Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee held an informational hearing this week on legislation that seeks to allow for the state-authorized use of medical cannabis. NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano and NORML Legal Committee member Alan Silber both submitted testimony. New Jersey activists are encouraged to contact their state elected officials in favor of this measure by visiting NORML’s online advocacy system.

    Minnesota: Minnesota Representatives adjourned this week without taking action on House File 655, which sought to authorize the medical use of cannabis by qualified patients. A companion measure had previously passed the Senate. House leadership failed to call the bill for a floor vote after promises by Gov. Tim Pawlenty that he would veto the measure. Medical marijuana proponents can contact the Governor here

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