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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 13, 2009

    Marijuana law reform bills are now pending in nearly two dozen states. Here is this week’s summary of pending state legislative activity and tips on how you can become involved in changing the marijuana laws in your area.

    Montana: Lawmakers introduced a measure this week to make minor marijuana offenses a civil violation. House Bill 541 would amend state law so that the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to six -months in jail) to a $50 fine. The proposal is now before the House Judiciary, which is expected to hear testimony in favor of the bill in March. You can show your support for HB 541 by going here. Similar pot decriminalization proposals are pending in Vermont, Washington, and Hawaii.

    Update!!! Update!!! Update!!!  In related Montana news, the Senate is now anticipated to vote on SB 326, and act to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, by the end of this week.  For more information, please contact Montana Patients and Families United here.

    Kentucky: Kentucky legislators are trying to misuse the state’s traffic safety laws to target adults who use marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own home. It’s up to us to stop them. This week, Senators approved SB 5, which seeks to criminalize anyone who operates a motor vehicle with any detectable level of marijuana in their blood. Under the strict interpretation of this standard, responsible marijuana consumers who last used cannabis days earlier could still be potentially arrested and prosecuted for ‘drugged driving’ — even if they are completely sober. NORML recently testified against a similar proposal in New Hampshire, which legislators rightfully dismissed as improper and illogical. Please help us derail SB 5 in Kentucky by contacting the members House Judiciary Committee and urging them to vote ‘no’ on 5.

    New Jersey: The Senate is expected to vote on Monday, February 23, on Senate Bill 119, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. If passed, this measure would 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 write or call their senators now and urge them to vote ‘yes’ on SB 119.

    Washington: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony this week in favor of Senate Bill 565 — an act to reclassify the possession of forty grams or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a class 2 civil infraction. You can read about the hearing here, and urge the Committee to back the measure by going here.

    To learn about additional pending legislation in Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, please visit NORML’s Legislative Action Alerts page here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 30, 2009

    Marijuana law reform bills are now pending in nearly a dozen states. Here is this week’s summary of pending state legislative activity and tips on how you can become involved in changing the marijuana laws in your area.

    Connecticut: Legislators introduced a bill this week to decriminalize the personal use of marijuana. Senate Bill 349 would amend Connecticut law so that adults who possess one ounce of marijuana or less will be issued tickets and assessed a nominal fine in lieu of criminal charges (up to one-year in jail, under current law). In the House, lawmakers will consider HB 5175, which seeks to legalize the medical use of cannabis. (The legislature passed a similar measure in 2007, only to have it vetoed by Gov. Jodi Rell.) Both bills are now before the Joint Judiciary Committee. Please show your support for these efforts here.

    Montana: Legislators tabled a pair of bills this week pertaining to the state’s medical marijuana patient registry. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today killed SB 212, a measure that NORML strongly opposed. However, in the House, members of the Human Services Committee deadlocked on House Bill 73, which would have allowed patients greater access to medical cannabis. A separate, more comprehensive measure to expand Montana’s medical marijuana program is expected to be introduced imminently.

    New Hampshire: House Bill 648, an act to legalize the medical use of marijuana, is now before the House Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs Committee. A similar bill was narrowly rejected (186-177) by the House in 2007. For more information on this measure, please visit NHCompassion.org or click here.

    South Dakota: Lawmakers will hold hearings next week on a pair of bills to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest and jail. House Bill 1127, an act “to provide safe legal access to medical marijuana for certain qualified persons,” will be heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee at 7:45am on Tuesday, February 3. The House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony regarding a separate medical marijuana bill on Wednesday. To attend these hearings or to learn more about how you can support these efforts, please visit South Dakota NORML/South Dakotans for Safe Access or go here.

    To learn about additional pending legislation in Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, please visit NORML’s Action Alerts page here.

  • 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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