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NORML Blog

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate February 20, 2019

    In New Jersey, there has been a great deal of progress in the last few years. Several bills have been introduced in the state legislature, ranging from legalization to expungement, and the fight for freedom has never been more widely supported than now. New Jersey residents overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization; in a recent poll conducted by Monmouth University,  62 percent of New Jerseyans support legalizing the responsible adult-use of marijuana, and several members of the New Jersey State Legislature are finally listening to the will of the people and pushing for meaningful marijuana reform. However, marijuana reform has stalled in the past few months. It is urgent that these measures get to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible.

    Send a general letter in support of sensible marijuana reform in New Jersey NOW.

    There are three major reform bills in the New Jersey State Legislature during the current legislative session.

    • S. 2318 would allow for expedited expungement of records for those previously convicted of a marijuana crime upon passage of decriminalization or legalization measures in the state of New Jersey, as long as those past violations are no longer considered a crime under state law. It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/22/2018 and is still stuck in committee. The passage of this bill is incredibly important; legalization alone does not provide a clear roadmap for expungement and the millions of people whose lives have been altered by prior marijuana-related convictions may still be left with the stain of those convictions even after legalization is a reality in New Jersey. For more information on this bill (and similar measure S. 3205) and to send a message to your state lawmaker in urgent support of this legislation, click here.
    • Companion bills S. 2703 and A. 4497 would legalize marijuana for personal adult-use in the state of New Jersey and provides expungement relief for people with certain past marijuana offenses. The bill was voted out of committee on 11/26/2018 and is now on its second floor reading and waiting for a scheduled vote. For more information on this bill and to send a message to your state Senator or state lawmaker in support of this legislation, click here.
    • Companion bills S. 10 and A. 10 would expand patients’ access to medical cannabis through several means. It would allow doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient they believe with benefit, phases out sales taxes on medical cannabis, and establishes additional legal protections for patients and caregivers. It also allows for additional growers and providers and expands on the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. S. 10 is in the amending stage as of 1/31/2019, and A. 10 most recently passed the Assembly Floor on 1/31/2019. For more information on this bill and to send a message to your state Senator or state lawmaker in support of this legislation, click here.

    Send a general letter in support of sensible marijuana reform in New Jersey NOW.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator February 15, 2019

    Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    This was a big week for marijuana in Congress. The House Financial Services subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions held a hearing Wednesday to address the lack of access to basic banking services by state-legal marijuana businesses.

    Also this week Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced legislation, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions.

    At the state level, John Fetterman, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania began his listening tour in central Pennsylvania to get feedback from the public on marijuana legalization. You can submit your own feedback here.

    The Arkansas House Rules Committee killed a bill that would have expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions eligible for medical cannabis. On the same day, the Department of Health, Surgeon General, and Drug Director issued a public health advisory regarding “the risks of harm associated with use of products derived from Cannabis, including marijuana and hemp, that claim to benefit health.”

    At a more local level, the decriminalization policy in Dayton, Ohio went into effect this week. And Denver, Colorado’s mayor and district attorney launched a new program seeking to help those convicted of certain marijuana offenses expunge their records.

    Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center for legislation pending in your state.

    Don’t forget to sign up for our email list, and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Actions to Take

    Federal

    Regulate Nationally: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

    Click here to email your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    Colorado

    Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.

    Update: SB 19-013 was approved by the full Senate on 2/14, and now awaits action from the House Health & Insurance Committee.

    CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

    Florida

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 372, Senate Bill 182, and House Bill 7015, and another House version PCB HHS 19-01, to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

    Update: The House Health and Human Services Committee approved PCB HHS 19-01 which would allow smoking in the form of pre-rolled, filtered medical cannabis cigarettes. The provision to require patients to get approval from a review panel before being permitted to smoke was removed. The bill now goes to the Appropriations Committee.

    Update #2: The Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee approved S182, removing the provision to require patients to get approval from two doctors before being permitted to smoke. The bill is on the agenda for hearings (if the bill is received) in the Rules Committee for 2/20/19, 4:00 pm, 110 Senate Building, and then the Appropriations Committee for 2/21/19, 10:00 am, 412 Knott Building

    FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing patients to smoke medical cannabis

    Georgia

    House Bill 324 seeks to expand and facilitate patients’ access to medical cannabidiol (CBD) products.

    The bill would establish a regulatory framework to permit the retail sale of medical CBD products to registered patients.

    GA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical CBD access

    Hawaii

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 131 / Senate Bill 1335, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: The House Committee on Judiciary approved HB 131 with amendments. Meanwhile, The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment killed SB 1335.

    HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    House Bill 673 / Senate Bill 1430, to expand medical cannabis access.

    The proposed changes:

    • Expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients;
    • Allows licensed dispensaries to possess up to two additional manufacturing or processing facilities separate from their production facilities; and
    • Allows licensed dispensaries to sell edible cannabis and cannabidiol products

    Update: The House Committee on Judiciary approved HB 673 on 2/15 after holding a hearing on the bill earlier in the week.

    HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    Idaho

    House Bill 140, which seeks to reduce marijuana possession penalties penalties for first time offenders.

    If passed, the bill would reduce the penalty for first time offenders convicted of possessing one half ounce or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in jail and/or $1,000 fine, to an infraction, punishable by a mandatory drug abuse education course, a $250 fine, and/or community service.

    ID resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions

    Maine

    Legislation is pending, LD 846 / HP 620, to mandate that state agencies review and expunge prior marijuana convictions.

    Under the plan, those convicted of marijuana-related activities that are no longer defined as criminal will have their records automatically sealed and no longer disseminated.

    ME resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

    Minnesota

    Legislation is pending to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

    HF 766 would:

    • Authorize each dispensary to open four additional locations in specified areas throughout the state
    • Allow specific formulations of medical cannabis to be administered to qualified patients on school grounds

    MN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    Missouri

    House Bill 341 would allow registered medical marijuana patients to have their records expunged if they were convicted of a possession offense that occurred prior to their participation in the state’s cannabis access program.

    Update: The Special Committee on Criminal Justice approved HB 341 on 2/14. The bill now goes to the Rules Committee.

    MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

    Montana

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 176, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    MT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    New Hampshire

    House Bill 335 would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to authorize additional dispensary licenses in certain geographic areas of the state. Under existing law, only a handful of licensed dispensaries are permitted in the state. This means that some patients must travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices to obtain their medicine.

    Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 335 on 2/12

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of additional dispensary locations

    HB 350 would expand the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

    Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 350 on 2/12

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis expansion

    House Bill 481 would allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

    The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants.

    Update: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety is scheduled to hold an executive session on HB 481 on 2/21 at 11:00am in LOB 204.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    New Mexico

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 356, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.

    Update: HB 356 was approved by the Health & Human Services Committee on 2/11.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 204, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

    The measure permits children with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered to them while on school property.

    Update: SB 204 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 2/14 after holding a hearing on the bill the day before.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

    Senate Bill 477 states that an individual’s status as a medical cannabis patient “shall not in itself constitute grounds for intervention, removal or placement into state custody of a child in that individual’s care.”

    Update: SB 477 was heard by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 2/15.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of parental protections

    North Carolina

    Legislation is pending, S. 58, to expand upon the state’s decriminalization law and also to provide for the expungement of certain prior cannabis convictions.

    Under current law, the possession of 1.5 ounces of cannabis is classified as a misdemeanor. This proposal raises that threshold to three ounces.

    The bill would also allow those with past marijuana possession convictions to petition the court to expunge their record.

    NC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expanded amounts

    North Dakota

    House Bill 1417 seeks to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.

    The original proposed changes:

    • Expands the pool of eligible patients by permitting providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with neuropathy; opioid use disorder; opioid withdrawal; migraine; rheumatoid arthritis; and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
    • Allows physicians to explicitly authorize select patients to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis than are generally allowed under the law.

    Update: HB 1417 was amended by the Human Services Committee, removing the provision adding new qualifying conditions, and only allowing doctors to authorize those with cancer to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis.

    Separately, House Bill 1519 would permit providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with 13 additional conditions, including anorexia nervosa, anxiety, opioid use disorder or withdrawal, and autism.

    Update: The Human Services Committee approved HB 1519 on 2/14.

    ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis expansion

    South Dakota

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1191, to establish an industrial hemp pilot program that will operate in compliance with newly enacted federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 1191 was approved by the full House on 2/11. The bill now awaits action from the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

    SD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    Tennessee

    Legislation is pending, SB 357 / HB 844, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 357 was placed on Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee calendar for 2/20/2019

    TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    Washington

    Legislation is pending, SB 5605 / HB 1500, to allow individuals with prior misdemeanor cannabis convictions to apply to the sentencing court to have their record vacated.

    WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of vacating records

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 5276, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 5276 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means on 2/18 at 3:30 PM

    WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    That’s all for this week!

  • by Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director February 14, 2019
    Virginia SB1719 passes the House of Delegates

    Virginia SB1719 passes the House of Delegates

    Originally posted on the Virginia NORML Blog

    Richmond, Va — Virginia Senator David Marsden’s SB1719 has passed unanimously through both the House of Delegates and the Senate, and is headed to the governor’s desk for signature.

    SB1719 allows “registered agents” for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities, and those who rely on home healthcare providers.

    “This law will ensure that patients who may be physically incapable of picking up these life-changing medicines on their own will have access to them from throughout the Commonwealth,” said Senator Marsden, of Fairfax County.

    Virginia NORML members with Senator Dave Marsden

    Virginia NORML members meet with Senator Dave Marsden

    It is patients like Tamara Lyn Netzel, a teacher from Alexandria who suffers from multiple sclerosis, who stand to benefit from this legislation.

    “Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease with severe symptoms that come and go, so I’ve accepted at some point I may not be able to drive a car safely or leave my home,” said Netzel. “It is comforting to know I will still be able to send my husband to get the medicine I need.”

    SB1719, which passed unanimously through both the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate, will also allow Virginia’s licensed pharmaceutical processors to transfer products between the five state-authorized facilities, ensuring that patients have access to a wider range of products. It will also prevent the limited availability of products that could result should a provider experience crop failure.

    “Allowing the exchange of various products between licensed processors will create better product selections for patients, depending on their need, regardless of their location in Virginia,” said Senator Marsden. “I am proud to be part of this effort.”

    SB1719 ensures that patients will greater access to the medicines they need, a key element of continuity needed for the success of any health system.

    “Patient access is critical to the success of Virginia’s medical cannabis program,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “These bills help ensure that all patients are able to obtain and use the necessary therapeutic doses of their cannabis medicines regardless of location or physical ability.”

    Other medical cannabis-related bills are still making their way through the legislature. Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s SB1557 expands Virginia’s medical cannabis program, adding nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and allowing a wide range of full therapeutic-strength formulations to be dispensed.

    Delegate Chris L. Hurst’s HB1720 and Senator Glen Sturtevant’s SB1632 would authorize school nurses to administer and registered student patients to use Virginia-approved medical cannabis products at school.

    “We’ve received emails and calls from concerned parents throughout the Commonwealth who are worried their children could be expelled for using their doctor-recommended medical cannabis oil at school,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “Delegate Hurst’s and Senator Sturtevant’s bills would provide a much-needed solution for these families.”

    Track this and all marijuana-related legislation on Virginia NORML’s 2019 legislation monitoring page.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director

    The House Financial Services subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions held a hearing Wednesday to address the lack of access to basic banking services by state-legal marijuana businesses.

    Currently, state-licensed marijuana businesses face a web of conflicting regulations and federal prohibitions largely prohibit these businesses from partnering with financial institutions, processing credit cards, and taking standard business deductions.

    NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano submitted written congressional testimony, which you can read here.

    NORML Political Director Justin Strekal published on op-ed on the topic in The Hill Newspaper, entitled Businesses need bank accounts — marijuana shops included.

    You can share the op-ed on Facebook by clicking here and on Twitter by clicking here.

    One of the best ways to speed up marijuana legalization is by allowing the existing companies access to basic banking services and it is encouraging to see Congress begin the conversation.

    You can watch the hearing below.

  • by NORML February 13, 2019

    Today, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced legislation, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions.

    Under existing regulations, VA doctors are not permitted to fill out the mandatory paperwork necessary to recommend cannabis therapy in those 33 states that regulate it. Passage of The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act ends this discrimination against veterans and prevents sanctions against VA doctors who wish to recommend medical cannabis treatment to their patients.

    Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers now!

    “The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would provide crucial medical and civil protections for the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve this country. It is unconscionable that these brave individuals who protect our nation’s freedoms would be treated as criminals when they return home just for treating their medical ailments with a safe and effective option,” said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. “We applaud and appreciate the leadership by Senator Schatz and Rep. Lee in putting forward this legislation.”

    “Historically, veteran and military communities have long been at the forefront of American social change, catalyzing the widespread acceptance of evolving cultural norms and perceptions surrounding racial, gender, and sexual equality. The therapeutic use of cannabis by veterans follows this trend and members of Congress should follow their lead and pass the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act,” Strekal concluded.

    “In 33 states, doctors and their patients have the option to use medical marijuana to manage pain—unless those doctors work for the VA and their patients are veterans,” Senator Schatz said. “This bill gives VA doctors in these states the option to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans, and it also promises to shed light on how medical marijuana can help with the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

    “As the daughter of a veteran, I am committed to ensuring that our veterans have access to the quality and comprehensive medical care they deserve – including medical marijuana. The current federal prohibitions on cannabis are unnecessary, harmful, and counterproductive,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The federal government should never stand between our veterans and their medicine. This critical legislation is a long overdue step to empower veterans and their doctors to make informed health care decisions, without political interference.”

    You can read NORML’s Fact Sheet on Marijuana and Veterans Issues HERE.

    A copy of the bill is available here.

    A recent American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition. A 2017 review of over 10,000 studies by the National Academy of Sciences concluded, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective for the treatment for chronic pain in adults.”

    Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act by clicking here now.

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