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Virginia NORML

  • by NORML April 5, 2018

    Legalize marijuanaSince the beginning of the year, NORML Chapters throughout the country have been busy organizing lobby days for the 2018 legislative session. With the hope of reforming various aspects of their state’s marijuana policies, NORML affiliated activists have been meeting with state representatives to educate lawmakers and their staff about the advantages of ending marijuana prohibition and encourage support for over 100 pieces of legislation nationwide.

    In addition to organizing more lobby days than was previously done in 2017, many NORML chapters including Delaware NORML, Denver NORML, Illinois NORML, and Lehigh Valley NORML have scheduled multiple lobby days for their 2018 legislative sessions. To date, NORML chapters have organized and/or participated in nearly 30 lobby days in 16 states. From fighting for employee protections in Colorado, Oregon and California, to pushing to expand access for patients in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and working to pass legislation to tax and regulate adult-use marijuana in Delaware, NORML chapters have been working overtime this legislative session.

    Virginia

    Members of Virginia NORML, led by Executive Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, have been focused on securing access and protection from prosecution for all patients since 2016. This session, their hard work finally paid off with unanimous passage of HB 1251 and SB 726 to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis oil law by removing qualifying conditions and instead allowing doctors to decide when to issue a recommendation.

    “Virginia will be the first state to expand a hyper-restrictive single qualifying disorder program to include any diagnosed condition. This didn’t happen because of industry dollars or high powered lobbyists, it happened because two moms wouldn’t take “no” for an answer,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini.

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

    Colorado

    There’s an effort underway in Colorado to define off-duty marijuana use a legal activity under Colorado’s prohibition of legal activities as a condition of employment law. Democratic Representative Jonathan Singer is leading the effort in the House, but proponents – consisting mostly of members of Denver NORML, Colorado NORML, and Southern Colorado NORML – are working to lock down a Republican sponsor before the bill is introduced to encourage bipartisan support.

    Also in Colorado, state lawmakers recently formed the first-ever statewide Cannabis Caucus to facilitate discussions on how to best address the various areas of public policy that have been impacted since voters approved the state’s marijuana legalization measure in 2012.

    “This kind of caucus is something we at the national level have been looking at for quite some time,” says NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji, who’s based in Denver. “Since the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, it just made sense to have something similar at the state level.”

    California

    Members of California NORML are also working with state lawmakers on a bill that would bar employers from discriminating against workers because of their status as a medical marijuana patient, or a positive drug test for medical marijuana use. NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. While law-abiding and responsible adults in some states have the legal option to consume marijuana in the privacy of their homes, they still are at risk of losing their employment as a result of a positive drug test — even in instances where the use took place on weekends or after-hours.

    Ellen Komp, Deputy Director of California NORML shared her thoughts on the effort: “Eleven states protect medical marijuana users’ employment rights in their laws, but not California. Cal NORML is sponsoring AB 2069, the Cannabis Worker Protections Act, to give workers in California the same right to use medical cannabis as opiates and other prescription drugs, as long as their use does not impair them on the job. Supporters can write to their representatives in favor of the bill at and join Cal NORML at our Lobby Day in Sacramento on June 4, 2018.”

    Follow California NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

    Maryland

    Members of Maryland NORML focused their time on lobbying members of the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee in favor of HB 1264 / SB 1039 – a constitutional amendment that would put a question on this November’s ballot to let the voters decide on the issue of marijuana legalization and retail sales.

    While that effort was not successful, Maryland is now in a position to expand the amount of personal possession of marijuana that is decriminalized from 10 grams to 30 grams as SB 127 continues to move forward after passing in the state Senate.

    Follow Maryland NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

    Delaware

    Members of Delaware NORML lobbied for legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults. The Delaware Marijuana Control Act regulates and taxes marijuana in the same manner as alcohol. It allows adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and consume under 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use. It does not permit people to grow their own marijuana.

    Hosting three lobby days already this year with a number on the way, Delaware is one of the states that we expect to achieve reform this decade.

    Follow Delaware NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

     

  • by Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director February 8, 2018

    Virginia NORML has been focused on securing access and protection from prosecution for all patients since 2016. This session, our efforts paid off with unanimous passage of our Let Doctors Decide legislation, supported by the Joint Commission on Healthcare, in both the House and Senate.

    Patients like Nikki Narduzzi, who is now our coalition director at Cannabis Commonwealth, will now have the same rights that were initially granted in 2015 to only intractable epilepsy patients. I have spent hundreds of hours with Nikki in the halls of the General Assembly, in Committee rooms, in district offices, in coffee shops talking to Virginia legislators about this groundbreaking expansion legislation.

    “Little did I know, in 2015 when I attended my first local Virginia NORML chapter meeting, that patient advocacy would become such a large part of my life,” said Nikki. “For the past three years, I have been supported and mentored by courageous advocates like Virginia NORML’s Executive Director, Jenn Michelle Pedini who has worked tirelessly in the trenches to bring medical cannabis access to ALL Virginia patients.”

    Virginia will be the first state to expand a hyper-restrictive single qualifying disorder program to include any diagnosed condition. This didn’t happen because of industry dollars or high powered lobbyists, it happened because two moms wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. We were pushed aside by other organizations interested in working for only small patient groups. We were railroaded by partisan antics more than once. We stood our ground, we pushed forward, and we prevailed.

    Read more here: http://www.suffolknewsherald.com/2018/02/06/advocates-cheer-bills-passage/

    To get involved or to stay up-to-date on the latest marijuana-related news in Virginia, make sure to visit our website at http://www.vanorml.org/ and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 19, 2011

    Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — activists’ one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country.

    ** 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.

    Connecticut: Lawmakers have introduced a pair of bills to reform state marijuana laws. House Bill 5139 amends state law to “authorize an individual to use marijuana for medical purposes as directed by a physician.” Lawmakers passed similar legislation in 2007 only to have the measure vetoed by then-Gov. Jodi Rell. Newly elected Gov. Dan Malloy has been a past supporter of medical marijuana law reform and indicates that he is inclined to sign HB 5139 into law. A separate bill, Senate Bill 163, amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to an infraction, punishable by a nominal fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. This measure would similarly reduce penalties for the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Both measures have been referred to the Joint Judiciary Committee. If you reside in Connecticut, you can take action in support of both bills here.

    Illinois: Illinois state legislators are considering a pair of bills to reform the state’s marijuana laws. Lawmakers this week reintroduced House Bill 30, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which allows qualified patients to possess and grow marijuana for medical purposes. The bill already has strong support among lawmakers, as a previous version of the measure was approved by the Senate and only narrowly defeated by the House. Separate legislation, House Bill 100, amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine) to a “petty offense” punishable by a fine only. Both measures have been referred to the House Rules Committee. If you reside in Illinois, you can take action in favor of both measures by clicking here and by becoming involved with Illinois NORML.

    Rhode Island: House Bill 5031 amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a civil offense, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. The measure has legislative support. In 2010, members of a special Senate committee advocated for the decriminalization of adult marijuana possession offenses, finding that over 91 percent of the state’s marijuana arrests are for possession only, and that of those first-time offenders are sentenced to incarceration, defendants on average were sentenced to 3.5 months in jail. House Bill 5031 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which may be contacted here. If you reside in Rhode Island, you can take action in support of HB 5031 at NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.

    Virginia: There is disappointing news to report from Virginia. On Monday, January 17, lawmakers on the House Courts of Justice, Criminal Subcommittee decided on a voice vote to “pass by indefinitely” legislation, HB 1443, which sought to reduce criminal marijuana penalties for first-time offenders. Virginia NORML, which backed HB 1443, co-organized a Lobby Day to coincide with Monday’s hearing and vote. An estimated 75 citizens participated in the day-long event, about a dozen of whom testified in favor of HB 1443. (You can read NORML’s testimony in favor of the measure here.) Unlike in past years, no one, including representatives of law enforcement or the state prosecutors office, testified publicly against the measure. Del. Morgan, the sponsor of HB 1443, has already vowed to reintroduce a similar measure next year. You can read a full report on Monday’s Lobby Day and hearing, as well as what you can still do to help, by clicking here.

    Washington: Senate Bill 5073, which seeks to expand Washington’s twelve-year-old medical marijuana law and creates greater legal protections for authorized patients, providers, and caregivers. has been assigned to the Committee on Health & Long-Term Care and has been scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, January 20 at 1:30pm in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the Cherberg Building. For more information on this measure and tomorrow’s hearing, please visit here.

    To be in contact with your state officials regarding these and other pending legislation, please visit NORML’s Take Action Center here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 13, 2011

    It’s January and once again it’s time for NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — activists’ one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country.

    ** 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.

    Virginia: House Bill 1443 eliminates criminal misdemeanor penalties and convictions for minor marijuana possession offenders. You can contact your state officials in support of this measure here. Virginia NORML is also co-sponsoring a Lobby Day at the State Capitol in support of this effort on Monday, January 17, 2011. To learn more about this event or to attend, please write: Sabrina@norml.org. [UPDATE! HB 1443 is scheduled to be heard by the House Courts of Justice, Criminal Subcommittee this Monday afternoon. This hearing coincides with Virginia NORML’s Lobby Day at the Capitol. Please join with fellow Virginia marijuana law reform activists in Richmond and show your support for this important legislation.]

    Washington: Senate Bill 5073 and House Bill 1100 seek to provide state licensing to medical marijuana producers and dispensaries in order to assure that qualified patients “will have access to an adequate, safe, consistent, and secure source of medical quality cannabis.” The proposed laws do not amend patients’ existing rights to possess up to 24 ounces of marijuana for medical purposes and cultivate up to 15 cannabis plants. The proposals also expand legal protections for patients and producers of cannabis-based medical products by redefining legal cannabis to include “products that contain cannabis or cannabis extracts … “including, but not limited to, edible products, tinctures, and lotions.” SB 5073 has been assigned to the Committee on Health & Long-Term Care and as been scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, January 20th at 1:30pm in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the Cherberg Building. You can learn more about these proposals at NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page here.

    Montana: Montana lawmakers are considering dozens of proposals this session to curtail or repeal the state’s six-year-old medical marijuana law. Montana NORML, our allies Patients & Families United, and various other local groups have formed a coalition to halt these legislative efforts and to protect patients rights. Please visit Patients and Families United on Facebook here for up-to-date information on pending hearings and votes. You can also e-mail your members of the state House and Senate urging them not to repeal Montana’s medical cannabis law by clicking here.

    Texas: House Bill 548 amends Texas law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine) to a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding $500 and no criminal record. You can show your support for this measure by visiting here or by becoming involved with Texas NORML here. You can follow the progress of this measure online here and also on the Facebook page for Texas NORML here.

    To be in contact with your state officials regarding these and other pending legislation, please visit NORML’s Take Action Center here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 26, 2010

    It’s January 2010, and that means it is time once again for NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — your one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country, along with tips for influencing the policies of your state.

    ** 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 make the changes they want to see. We can’t do it without you.

    Virginia: Members of the Virginia House Courts of Justice, Criminal Subcommittee are scheduled to hear testimony on Wednesday in favor of House Bill 1134, which seeks to dramatically reduce the state’s marijuana possession and cultivation penalties. Representatives from NORML’s national staff and state affiliate will be in attendance and testifying in support of this measure. You can read NORML’s written testimony to the subcommittee here; NORML’s letter in yesterday’s Washington Post appears here.

    Virginia residents are urged to contact their House delegates today. If your delegate is one of the members of the House Courts of Justice, Criminal Subcommittee, then it is especially important that he or she hears from you today. Phone and e-mail contact information for these members is available here. A pre-written letter will be e-mailed to your Virginia state House member when you go here. Finally, those seeking to attend Wednesday’s hearing in Richmond should contact Sabrina at Virginia NORML at: sabrina@norml.org for further information. You can also track the legislative progress of this effort on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/vanorml.

    New Hampshire: Lawmakers on the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee held hearings last week on two pending proposals, HB 1652 (legalization) and HB 1653 (decriminalization). You can read NORML’s written testimony in favor of these measures here, and you can voice your support for these efforts here. You can also watch video highlights (and lowlights) from last week’s hearing, care of our friends at New Hampshire Common Sense, by clicking here.

    Colorado: Members of the Colorado Senate, Health and Human Services Committee are scheduled to hear testimony Wednesday morning regarding proposed state regulations to Colorado’s medical marijuana law. You can read more about these controversial guidelines here, here and here, and you can contact members of the Committee here.

    Washington: House Committee lawmakers rejected a pair of marijuana law reform proposals last week that sought to remove criminal penalties for the adult, personal use of marijuana. You can see how House members voted here. A Senate companion bill to decriminalize marijuana possession, SB 5615, still awaits floor action and can be supported by going here.

    For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    [UPDATE!!! For folks interested in the progress of New York’s pending medical marijuana legislation, there’s this report from today’s New York Times.]