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NORML Blog

  • by NORML April 14, 2020

    In recent days, numerous states have taken steps to ensure that state-licensed cannabis facilities are explicitly permitted to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In several jurisdictions, lawmakers have designated these operations to be ‘essential’ to the health and well-being of the patient community. In others, regulators have either relaxed protocols or moved forward with new, emergency rules to facilitate expanded access – such as permitting patients to seek telemedicine appointments and allowing dispensaries to permit curbside pick-up and home delivery.

    NORML is encouraged that lawmakers and regulators are moving expeditiously to take these common-sense actions. State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said, “The reality that a growing number of jurisdictions have taken these important steps is further evidence of the degree to which above-ground cannabis access is now widely recognized to be an essential part of the fabric of our society, and is regarded as being crucial to patients’ health and welfare.”

    Below is a summary of the policies currently in place governing retail cannabis access during the COVID-19 outbreak. NORML will continue to update these policies accordingly in the coming days and weeks.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel June 5, 2020
    NORML Founder Keith Stroup

    NORML Founder Keith Stroup

    For NORML’s 50th anniversary, every Friday we will be posting a blog from NORML’s Founder Keith Stroup as he reflects back on a lifetime as America’s foremost marijuana smoker and legalization advocate. This is the sixth in a series of blogs on the history of NORML and the legalization movement.

    Attorney Gerry Goldstein and the Early Years: A Tour of the Texas Prisons, My Bust in Calgary, and “the Pierre Trudeau Defense”

    During the 1970s when I was first running NORML, in an effort to extend the impact NORML might have on public policy, I traveled from state to state, wherever and whenever someone was willing to form a new NORML state or local group. During these travels, I was frequently meeting other young lawyers (although we also had many non-lawyers representing NORML around the country), many of whom were also active in the anti-Vietnam War efforts, who shared the NORML position regarding marijuana policy. While  privately most of these volunteer supporters were also marijuana smokers, they had to be especially careful to conceal their use in order to avoid being targeted by local law enforcement who might find their pro-legalization advocacy threatening.

    In addition, during those years most state bar associations would investigate any allegations that a member of the bar was a marijuana smoker, and would frequently suspend any lawyer from the practice of law for several months or even longer for even a simple marijuana possession conviction. It was considered a moral offense that rendered the individual unqualified to practice law. It required a brave individual with a truly serious commitment to ending marijuana prohibition to assume the risks associated with speaking out as a NORML advocate during the 1970s.

    I was fortunate in that my bar license is with the District of Columbia, a progressive jurisdiction that long ago figured out they have more important responsibilities than to worry whether any of their lawyers are marijuana smokers. If one was convicted of a felony for selling marijuana, the DC bar would  get involved. But for my simple possession convictions, they have never even made an inquiry.

    NORML decided to begin to organize in Texas in the early years because that state seemed especially harsh in the manner in which they treated non-violent marijuana offenses. At the time, Texas sent more people to jail for longer periods of time for minor marijuana offenses than any other state in the nation. Our strategy during those years was to go to the heart of the monster and to focus as much public attention as possible on the victims of marijuana prohibition in an attempt to build public sympathy and to begin to overcome the negative stereotype most Americans then held of marijuana smokers.

    Gerry Goldstein

    Gerry Goldstein

    During our first year I became aware of this young San Antonio, TX criminal defense attorney by the name of Gerald H. Goldstein, who practiced in a firm with his father, and who was already doing some important ACLU work and representing anti-war activists in Texas. Gerry and I immediately became friends and he agreed to serve as the early State Coordinator for NORML in Texas, serving as our spokesperson with the media. And when we were approached by some members of the national media asking if we could arrange for them to interview some victims of marijuana prohibition, Gerry was able to arrange an opportunity for us to take the journalists, representing the Associated Press and The New York Times, inside the Texas prison system to meet privately with some hand-picked non-violent marijuana offenders who were currently serving decades-long prison terms.  George Beto, then the head of the Texas Department of Corrections, had become frustrated with the influx of young people, many of them students at the University of Texas at Austin, being regularly sent to prison for decades for minor marijuana charges and he thought shinning some light on what was occurring might force some changes in the sentencing practices applied to non-violent marijuana offenders.

    When Goldstein contacted Beto to indicate we had a couple of national journalists willing to come interview marijuana prisoners, the warden agreed to assemble a collection of a dozen or so non-violent marijuana offenders and to provide us the space to interview them within the prison. This was an extraordinary offer from the head of the Texas prison system and we knew it was a unique opportunity. In most states, the head of the prison system would likely not even bother returning our calls, and would certainly not help us identify the most attractive victims in the system or allow us to schedule an interview with the national media.

    When the date arrived, we found Mr. Beto had delivered on his offer. All of the prisoners were serving multi-year sentences (most multi-decade), and many had been arrested and convicted as young college students, often for selling an ounce or two of marijuana to their fellow college students, never fully understanding the serious risk of prison they were facing until it was too late. It was clear that none of these individuals presented a threat to the public, yet all were looking at a decade or longer in prison.

    That prison tour by journalists resulted in both a nationwide AP story that was very sympathetic to our position, and a subsequent New York Times Magazine cover story about NORML and our efforts to help the victims of marijuana prohibition. We were defining ourselves to the general public, and this national media attention helped introduce us as the good guys, working to save these non-violent marijuana offenders from the ravages of decades or longer in prison. And we were challenging the stereotype of marijuana smokers as bad people who needed to be jailed.

    As a result of this favorable media coverage, then Texas Governor Dolph Brisco, no friend of marijuana smokers, nonetheless felt the need to establish a commission to review the sentences of non-violent marijuana offenders. This resulted in the eventual early release of scores of non-violent offenders including most, if not all, of those we had interviewed in our prison visit.

    One of those young men who was released from prison was Frank Demolli, a former UT college student, who returned to complete his college degree and then became a tribal judge on a couple of Native American reservations in northern New Mexico. Frank, who subsequently became a NORML Lifetime Member, has stayed in touch over the years and recently sent me the following note on the occasion of our 50th anniversary.

    Keith, mucho congratulations on the 50th anniversary of your founding of NORML.

    In 1971, as Texas Department of Corrections Inmate #224552, and one of 800 Texas marijuana prisoners, we thought you were a god when you appeared on the cellblock with Playboy, ABC, NBC and the New York Times.   We couldn’t believe that a long-haired, plain talking, earnest, well-dressed, semi-sortta hippy could get away with changing the Texas marijuana laws which were two-to-life for even one seed.

    You did it.

    And our sentences were reduced and we can never thank NORML and you enough.  May all of you reap the benefits of your good deeds.  What has become more wondrous over the decades, is that your entire movement was peaceful.

    Love and Peace,
    Frank Demolli

    Busted in Calgary

    So it was only natural that I turned to my friend Gerry Goldstein for help when I was busted going into Canada to give a lecture in 1977.

    I did a lot of interstate travel during those years, and frequently I was traveling to a college to give a lecture, to raise funds for the organization and to expand our political network, always trying to leave behind a core group of activists willing to carry the fight forward in their area. And I would generally carry a joint in my coat pocket to share with the students when the lecture was over and the lights turned down for a showing of an edited version of Reefer Madness, which I regularly included as part of my presentation.

    But I had not at that time done any international travel and I thought flying to Calgary University in Alberta, Canada to deliver a lecture was the equivalent of going from one state to another; no special security required. As usual, I had a joint rolled in my pocket to share with the students after the lecture, and I was wearing a gold marijuana leaf lapel pin. It sounds terribly naïve now, but I was a true-believer and assumed the righteousness of our cause would somehow always protect us.

    And I almost made it through customs when the final officer saw my lapel pin and came back to search my sport coat more carefully, and found the joint. There were students from the university there to pick me up and take me to the lecture hall, and they had to use the lecture fee to bail me out so I could deliver the lecture later than evening. I was given a ticket by the customs officials and assigned a date to return to Calgary for the trial.

    I immediately called Gerry Goldstein to ask if he would represent me in Canada and he agreed. We both felt there was very little risk of my going to jail for such a small quantity, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity for a little street theater. We decided to use it as a show trial, at which we would raise the “Pierre Trudeau defense” to illustrate the need to end marijuana prohibition.

    Pierre Trudeau was the prime minister of Canada at the time. (His son, who was elected Prime Minister in 2015, enacted legislation legalizing the adult use of marijuana in 2018.) He had been quoted in the Washington Post as saying to young Americans who might want to come to Canada for a visit that they were welcome to bring along a couple of joints, and that they would not be hassled for personal use in Canada! Trudeau always seemed to enjoy contrasting his more progressive policies with the pro-war and anti-pot positions of the US government. He had also made it clear that draft-resisters were welcome to move to Canada

    I was never quite sure why Trudeau had made that statement. Perhaps he simply wanted to demonstrate he was not a hypocrite, since it had been widely reported that he and his wife had smoked weed with the Rolling Stones at some point. Regardless, it sure sounded like something that might be useful with my charges in Canada, and it would make good theater for the media.

    Gerry Goldstein & Keith Stroup

    Gerry Goldstein & Keith Stroup

    So, Gerry Goldstein and I returned to Canada for the trial and raised the Pierre Trudeau defense. I took the stand and acknowledged that I had entered the country with a marijuana joint in my coat pocket. We then introduced a copy of the Washington Post article including the Trudeau invitation into evidence, and I testified I had relied on that statement from the prime minister when I brought the joint into Canada.

    The judge clearly appreciated the creativity of our defense (and likely saw the humor in what we were doing), so he allowed us to put on our defense. Nonetheless, he ultimately convicted me (there was no jury), imposed a small fine, and sent me on my way home, none the worse for wear.

    It turned out we were searched again on the way out of the country, and the Canadian police this time found in a pocket in my shoulder bag (a bag with many little zippered pockets) an empty one-gram cocaine vial, with trace amounts on the sides of the container. Those were the years when cocaine use was relatively prevalent, at least among my circle of friends, but this was a screw-up, not something intentional. Goldstein had warned me to carefully search my bag before we entered Canada, but somehow I had overlooked this one pocket and I was arrested and thrown back in jail.

    Fortunately, I was able to stop Goldstein, who was walking a few feet ahead of me, from leaving customs, so he could work that evening to convince the prosecutor this was not intentional, the same one with whom we had just had such fun; and to accept a guilty plea the following morning before the same judge, permitting us to get the hell out of Canada! The judge was obviously angry to be dealing with another drug charge by the same foreign defendant for the second consecutive day, and he imposed another fine and ordered me to immediately leave the country (which, of course, I was only too happy to do). I was advised that I could never again enter the country of Canada, but in fact, after a few years I found those restrictions had been lifted and I have since been to Canada on several occasions without further trouble.

    I am well aware that because of my work with NORML and the network of talented criminal defense lawyers who have always worked closely with us, my experiences with the criminal justice system have not been typical. I have had the luxury of treating my two marijuana arrests (the second, at the Boston Freedom Rally in 2007, will be the topic for a subsequent blog) as an opportunity to publicize the unfairness of marijuana prohibition with little, if any, personal risk. The vast majority of individuals who are arrested on marijuana charges in this country (more than 650,000 just last year) still today pay a terrible price in terms of jail or prison time and life-long loss of employment and educational opportunities. For most who are arrested, it is an unfair burden they carry for life.

    Gerry Goldstein receives the NORML Michael J. Kennedy Award

    Gerry Goldstein receives the NORML Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award

    Goldstein and I have now spent nearly five decades as close friends and professional colleagues. He is a nationally known and highly respected civil rights and criminal defense attorney who has served as president of both the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA). In addition to our work with NORML, we were law partners for a few years in the early 80s. He was an early recipient of the Al Horn Award (1999), given each year to an outstanding criminal defense lawyer in the NORML network; in 2016 he was the first recipient of the Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award; and he has been designated by the NORML Legal Committee (NLC) as the Co-Chair for Life (along with San Francisco lawyer Michael Stepanian) for his life-long commitment to ending marijuana prohibition. Those who have attended our annual NORML Aspen Legal Seminars are familiar with the benefit dinners we hold each year at the lovely home Gerry and his wife Christine Goldstein have in Aspen.

    Few people have had more impact shaping NORML policies and programs than Gerry Goldstein. He has been willing to speak truth to power his entire career, and he enjoys a little street theater.

     

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director June 4, 2020
    The following is a joint post by Empire State NORML, NYC NORML, Long Island NORML, and Roc NORML leadership.
    June 4th, 2020

    On the anniversary of the loss of our former colleague, activist and friend, Doug Greene – NYC NORML, Empire State NORML, Long Island NORML, & Roc NORML feels it is important to address the recent events and Developments following the death of George Floyd.

    Unpunished bad policing in the face of public observation and outrage, deteriorates faith in the system that we are told to trust. Public servants are supposed to inspire respect, order and encourage community. We instead are struck by the blatant hypocrisy behind the mantra of “Protecting and Serving”. In the wake of the death of George Floyd, justice, community, and order have neither been protected or well served. Inaction in the face of injustice damages the fabric of our trust in the system. So, we hope to see more officers police their own ranks and act upon injustices within their departments, in recognition of the difficult path that lies ahead.

    As public interest organizations, we not only wish we spoke sooner, but pushed for positive change sooner. We stand for Black Lives, we stand for George Floyd, we stand with every peaceful protester in the state that is fed up with the systemic racial injustice issue that seems to permeate many police departments. Many within our community have long suffered the unjust and unequal culture of cannabis enforcement that systemically targets and incarcerates marginalized citizens for minor cannabis infractions. Cannabis legalization may not be the end all fix – we need to re-educate law enforcement to police without racial discrimination or disparity. More importantly, we must collectively impart change on an enforcement culture that encourages over-exerting its powers on communities of color.

    Everyday our message gains greater importance and yields greater success, but we still have a long way to go. Until we have a colorblind cannabis enforcement policy, we ask that you please exercise caution, be safe and community minded, think before you re-act, and channel your energy into ensuring that we walk out of this together – and better. We may better ourselves and our society through this coming election cycle, focusing our attention towards representatives that act upon our needs and seek to correct the disparities and disregard that allow for these murders of innocents to persist.

    As we continue to endure a global pandemic, please remember to wear your mask and take the necessary precautions to prevent further spread of the virus to other citizens who may be at risk. Be well, and stay hopeful.

    Board of Directors,
    NYC NORML
    Empire State NORML
    Long Island NORML
    ROC NORML

    P.S. If you are financially able, we suggest that you contribute to the various civil rights organizations listed below, that have been on the front lines towards these atrocities – and make sure you are registered to vote. If you have any questions towards which organizations to donate to, or how to register to vote, contact info@nycnorml.org; or info@empirestatenorml.com.

    List of Charitable Organizations to Donate To:

    – The NAACP Legal Defense Fund 

    – ACLU of New York

    – Legal Aid Society NYC

    – Black Lives Matter

    – Latino Justice PRLDEF

    – Communities Against Police Brutality 

    – Brooklyn Community Bail Fund 

    – The Last Prisoner Project 

    – Drug Policy Alliance 

    – VOCAL – NY 

    – Anti-Defamation League (ADL) 

    Also if you have suggestions for other organizations we can add to this list below, please reach out*

    Voting Resources:

    – Register to Vote in NY HERE

    – NORML Smoke The Vote

    – Cannabis Voter Project 

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director June 3, 2020

    If you haven’t read our statement on the murder of George Floyd and the intersections of marijuana criminalization and racial justice, please take a moment to do so here

    As first reported by Buzzfeed News, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is expanding its law enforcement powers so that it can better assist “to the maximum extent possible in the federal law enforcement response” to the wave of ongoing, nationwide protests that have followed the killing of George Floyd by a member of the Minneapolis police.

    According to a DEA memorandum, the agency requested to expand its policing powers beyond the enforcement of federal drug laws to include the enforcement of “any federal crime committed as a result of protests over the death of George Floyd.” Buzzfeed reports that the agency was granted permission to exert these new, expanded policing powers nationwide for a period of fourteen days.

    To be clear, the DEA is not asserting its existing authority to arrest those participating in peaceful protests who may be in violation of federal drug laws. Rather, it is exerting newly expanded police powers to take action against those for whom it perceives to have engaged in the violation of any federal law. Given the DEA’s long track record as an overzealous, ideologically driven agency, this rapid expansion of its policing authority should be discomforting to us all.

    The DEA has long misused its drug enforcement powers, and especially its powers to enforce federal marijuana prohibition, to target dissident groups and populations of color. For example, former Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman has acknowledged that the escalation of federal drug law enforcement against marijuana was due, in large part, to the administration’s desire to crack down on anti-war protesters. Ehrlichman explained: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

    Regardless of one’s personal sentiments regarding these protests, we can all agree that it makes no sense to elevate the power and authority of the DEA — even temporarily — during these uncertain times. 

    Further, NORML wishes to remind those of you who are engaging in these peaceful protests that despite changes in the legal status of cannabis in the majority of US jurisdictions, marijuana possession and use remains a violation of federal law. The DEA possesses the power to strictly enforce these violations of law. Because we know that the DEA is playing a more prominent role in surveilling these activities and taking law enforcement actions, NORML reminds anyone participating in these events to refrain from the possession or use of cannabis while doing so.

    Here at NORML, we will continue to demand an end to marijuana criminalization in the United States, and we will continue to be a critical voice against the DEA and other groups who misuse this prohibition as a pretext to clamp down on civil liberties, including the exercising of the First Amendment.

    In Solidarity,
    Justin Strekal

    NORML Political Director 

    P.S. If you have yet to contact your federal lawmakers in support of The MORE Act to end federal marijuana prohibition, now is the time to do so. For those who may not know, the MORE Act became the first bill to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act to ever pass the House Judiciary Committee last November and is currently awaiting additional committee action and a floor vote. Please make sure you tell your lawmakers to cosponsor the bill.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 1, 2020

    On May 25th, George Floyd was killed on camera by officers affiliated with the Minneapolis Police Department. As were many Americans, we were shocked and disheartened by this tragic and needless loss of life. 

    As the events of the past few days have unfolded, it is clear that America is in the midst of a long overdue reckoning with itself. Since 1619, when the first ships arrived on the coast of Virginia with enslaved Africans in chains, our country has long had to struggle to address the inequality and structural racism embedded within our public institutions — particularly within the criminal justice system.

    From slavery and the Civil War, to the battles to end Jim Crow laws, to the marches for civil rights, to the protests against mass incarceration, to the Black Lives Matter movement, each generation of Americans has stepped up to take action to fight to end racial injustice. 

    As protests continue to take place across our nation, more Americans are beginning to publicly demand action from their local, state, and federal leaders to end the policies and practices that promote, enable, and drive systemic racial injustice. In these conversations about policy solutions, many will include in their demands an ending to the war on drugs — or, at a minimum, an ending to marijuana criminalization. But while ending cannabis prohibition is both important and necessary, we must also recognize that doing so is but a single piece of a much larger puzzle.

    Will legalizing marijuana reform alone solve the problem of racial injustice? No.

    Is ending cannabis prohibition going to fix all of America’s social ills? No.

    After we legalize adult-cannabis use, will we see an end to discriminatory policing against communities of color and other marginalized groups? No.

    Will end marijuana prohibition be a small step toward the greater goal of promoting justice? Without a doubt, yes. 

    And the majority of Americans agree

    Our decades-long prohibition of marijuana was founded upon racism and bigotry. Look no further than the sentiments of its architect, Harry J. Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who declared: “[M]ost [marijuana consumers in the US] are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. … [M]arijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes. … Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” 

    These racial biases were later exploited by the Nixon administration when it ramped up the drug war in 1970 and declared cannabis to be “public enemy #1.” As former Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman later acknowledged: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

    Today, the modern era of marijuana prohibition continues to be disproportionately applied. Annually, over 650,000 Americans are arrested for violating marijuana laws. Yet, according to an analysis of these arrests released earlier this year by the ACLU, “In every single state, Black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or almost ten times more likely to be arrested. In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010.”

    Of course, marijuana prohibition isn’t the sole cause of America’s racial inequities, nor is it the sole reason why certain members of the police continue to engage in racially-aggressive policing and misconduct. But its criminalization is one of the tools commonly used to justify and perpetuate these injustices. 

    For example, marijuana enforcement was the pretext in the fatal law enforcement shooting of another Minnesotan just a few years before George Floyd’s murder: Philando Castile. The officer in this case alleged that he feared for his life simply because he believed that Mr. Castille had been smoking marijuana, stating: “I thought I was gonna die. And I thought if he’s, if he has the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the 5-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing then what, what care does he give about me. And, I let off the rounds and then after the rounds were off, the little girl was screaming.”

    Even in those jurisdictions where adult-use cannabis is legal, we know that there still remains much work to be done to address continuing racial inequities. For instance, African Americans and Latinos continue to disproportionately be targeted for traffic stops in Colorado and Washington even after legalization. 

    Then there is the question of the cannabis industry itself. We advocates need to continue to push for inclusion and equity within this space. We must not ignore the reality that while a handful of venture capitalists are now engaging in licensed cannabis sales in systems that largely exclude minority ownership while millions of others — most of them young, poor, and people of color — continue to face arrest and incarceration for engaging in much of the same behavior. 

    There is no doubt that our national discussion over matters of race and policing will continue long after these public protests have ceased. NORML believes that calls for cannabis legalization need to be an important part of this emerging discussion — but only a part. Black and brown lives matter and we owe it to our country and to ourselves to take tangible steps toward dismantling many of the power structures that perpetuate injustice. Marijuana prohibition is simply one of them.

    We are at a crossroads in this country and it is time for all of us to march as allies in the fight for racial justice and equality. It is important during this process for those of us not from these marginalized communities to truly listen to those who are facing this oppression and support them in this struggle. Let us take this moment in time to pledge to put in the work necessary in order to make America the better and more just nation that we know it can be.

    In Solidarity,

    Erik Altieri
    NORML Executive Director

  • by NORML

    House and Senate lawmakers have approved a series of bills to facilitate patients’ access to medical cannabis products.

    On Sunday, legislators finalized HB 819, which expands the discretion of physicians so that they can recommend cannabis therapy for “any condition” that he or she “considers debilitating to an individual patient and is qualified through his [or her] medical education and training to treat.” Under the current law, doctors may only recommend medical cannabis products to those patients with a limited number of select conditions, such as HIV and cancer.

    Commenting on the measure, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “This is common sense legislation that provides physicians, not lawmakers, the ability and discretion to decide what treatment options are best for their patients. Just as doctors are entrusted to make decisions with regard to the supervised use of opioids and other medicines – many of which pose far greater risks to patients than cannabis – the law should provide doctors with similar flexibility when it comes to recommending cannabis therapy to a bona fide patient.”

    If signed into law, Louisiana will join a handful of other states — such as California, Maine, and Virginia –- that have enacted similar measures providing physicians with the ability to recommend medical cannabis preparations to any patient who they believe may benefit from them.

    House and Senate lawmakers also approved House Bill 418, which provides immunity from prosecution to “any facility that is licensed by the Louisiana Department of Health that has patients in its care using medical marijuana.” Legislators also approved HB 211, which seeks to encourage banks and other financial institutions to provide services to state-licensed medical cannabis businesses.

    All three measures now await action from Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

    State lawmakers enacted a limited medical cannabis access law in 2016. However, the program did not become operational until last year.

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