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NORML Blog

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director December 10, 2018


    Up until a few years ago low-income housing that received federal subsidies were required to maintain a “drug-free” environment. This meant that if anyone living in subsidized housing was caught possessing and/or consuming marijuana onsite, everyone living in the property was at risk of being evicted.

    Fortunately, in 2014 the Obama Administration amended this policy to no longer mandate evictions which provided some discretion to housing management. As a result, the decision is now left to property management so they can insist on a “drug-free” environment, but are not required by law to impose such restrictive policies.

    Unfortunately, due to inconsistencies in the different policies adopted by property management companies and limited knowledge of the law, marijuana patients residing in subsidized housing are losing their homes. A situation that is becoming all too common. Most recently, John Flickner, a 78-year-old wheelchair bound medical marijuana patient, was evicted from his low-income senior housing facility in Niagara Falls for using medical marijuana that was recommended by his physician.

    In response, Lynne Patton, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regional official announced that she is working to resolve the ongoing conflict between federal and state marijuana laws as it applies to tenant rights in federally-subsidized housing.

    “State & federal law needs to catch up with medicinal marijuana usage & require private landlords to legally permit the same. Period,” Patton wrote. “Regardless, my team is already working with Mr. Flickner & a local grantee to place him in permanent housing again, as anyone else in his boat.”

    Read more here: https://www.marijuanamoment.net/trump-official-wants-to-legally-permit-medical-marijuana-in-federally-subsidized-housing/

    That’s why NORML is supporting the Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act, which would prohibit property owners of federally assisted housing from establishing standards to prevent access to federally assisted housing to anyone who engages in the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana as long as they are in compliance with state laws.

  • by NORML December 7, 2018

    Washington, DC: Today, President Trump announced his intention to nominate former Attorney General William Barr to be considered by the Senate to replace former Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.

    “With every move by the Department of Justice facing intense public scrutiny, maintaining Jeff Sessions’ policy of reefer madness would be self-defeating,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “The movement to end the failed and cruel policy of marijuana criminalization is larger and stronger than ever, supported by a majority of Democrats, Republicans, and non-partisans.”

    “In 2018, five states legalized either the medicinal or adult-use of marijuana, making the total number of states out of compliance with the Controlled Substances Act now 47. It would be utterly absurd for William Barr or any agent of the Department of Justice to take any action against these state-sanctioned and operational programs.”

    “Over half of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee represent states that have or are in the process of enacting a legal marijuana marketplace. It is our intention that Mr. Barr be put on the record regarding his current position on cannabis given his record as a proponent of the failed War on Drugs.”

    Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional fifteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

    Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

    Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

    To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safetycrime ratestraffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

    Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that over 149,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abusehospitalizations, and mortality.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate

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

    At the state level, certain provisions of Michigan’s voter approved legalization measure specific to the adult possession and cultivation of cannabis took effect on Thursday. Missouri’s voter-approved medical marijuana measure also took effect on Thursday.

    Iowa’s first medical cannabis dispensary, MedPharm, opened on Saturday. And Alzheimer’s disease was added to Minnesota’s list of medical marijuana qualifying conditions by the state’s Department of Health.

    Members of the New York state assembly held a public hearing on adult use marijuana legalization at Babylon Town Hall on Long Island.

    At a more local level, Michael Hancock, mayor of Denver, Colorado, announced via Twitter that his administration will begin to “vacate low-level marijuana convictions.” And two city councilmen in Cincinnati, Ohio are advocating for marijuana decriminalization in the city with legislation that would put the question on the ballot.

    Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act 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 at the federal level. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

    Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

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

    Utah

    House Bill 3001 is “compromise” legislation that sought to significantly amend Proposition 2, The Utah Medical Cannabis Act. The changes are likely to adversely impact patients’ medical cannabis access and unduly delay the law’s implementation.

    Update: On 12/3, Governor Herbert (R) signed HB 3001 into law shortly after it was approved by the Utah House of Representatives 60-13, and then the Senate 22-4. The new law takes effect immediately.

    Illinois

    House Bill 2367 seeks to vacate criminal records among those with certain past marijuana possession convictions.

    The bill amends the Cannabis Control Act so that Illinoisans may file a petition with the court requesting expungement for any past marijuana violation that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. Several other states, including Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Oregon, have enacted similar laws.

    Update: On 11/29, the Illinois House of Representatives voted 67-37 to pass HB 2367. The measure now awaits action in the Senate.

    IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

  • by NORML December 5, 2018

    Key provisions of the state’s voter-initiated marijuana measure, Proposition 1: The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, will take effect this Thursday, December 6. Michigan is the tenth US state to legalize and regulate the use and sale of marijuana by adults, and it is the ninth to do so via voter initiative.

    “The legalization of the adult use of marijuana in Michigan represents a victory for common sense public policy, while delivering yet another body blow to our decades long failed prohibition on marijuana,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “Instead of continuing to arrest over 22,000 citizens a year for marijuana related charges, Michigan will now be able to reallocate precious law enforcement resources to combat violent crime while respecting civil liberties and advancing racial justice. This is a great day for the state of Michigan and, as the first midwest state to legalize marijuana for adult use, a huge step forward in the nationwide fight to end the failed policy of prohibition and incarceration and to replace it with a sensible system of legalization and regulation.”

    Provisions specific to the adult possession and cultivation of cannabis will take effect at 12am. Those over the age of 21 may legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or 15 grams of cannabis concentrates in a private residence. Adults may also legally cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants in private, and possess the harvest (up to ten ounces) of those plants. Public use of cannabis will remain a violation of law.

    Under the new law, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has up to 12 months to begin accepting applications from those seeking to operate licensed cannabis businesses.

    Despite majority support for the new law, legislation (SB 1243) introduced by outgoing Sen. Majority Leader Arian Meekhof in the lame duck session seeks to significantly amend many of its provisions. The measure, which NORML opposes, would eliminate adults’ ability to home cultivate personal use amounts of cannabis, among other changes.

    “Home cultivation is a vital component of Michigan’s new law, and this policy is consistent with those policies regulating alcohol — which permit home brewing,” Altieri said.Fifty-six percent of Michigan voters approved Proposition 1. Politicians should respect the will of the electorate; they should not be seeking to undermine them.”

    Click here to email your lawmakers and urge them to vote ‘no’ on SB 1243.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 3, 2018

    Marijuana medicine[Update: Governor Gary Herbert has signed the replacement measure into law.]

    Lawmakers voted in a special legislative session on Monday to replace the state’s voter-initiated medical cannabis access program. The former law, Proposition 2, was approved by 53 percent of voters on November 6.

    NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri criticized lawmakers’ decision. “Lawmakers should have respected the will of the voters and should have moved expeditiously to honor the spirit of the law — not undermine it,” he said. “Patients deserve the right to cultivate their own medicine, doctors should be empowered to decide what is best for their patients, and there should be no undue hurdles to licensing an adequate number of dispensaries to provide cannabis related products in a retail environment.”

    Legislators announced in October their intent to rewrite the legislation, prior to its passage, after meetings with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — who opposed the bill — and other groups, including some backers of the original bill. However, other proponents of Proposition 2, including the group TRUCE Utah (Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education), have announced their intent to file a lawsuit in response to lawmakers’ decision to amend the law.

    The replacement legislation, House Bill 3001, significantly differs from the language that was approved by the voters. It eliminates patients’ option to home cultivate cannabis, it largely discourages the dispensing of edible cannabis products, it narrows the list of qualifying conditions, and it significantly reduces the total number of permissible state-licensed dispensaries, among other changes.

    Members of the House voted 60 to 13 in favor of the new language. Members of the Senate voted 22 to 4. The bill required two-thirds support from both chambers in order to become law.

    The vote to rewrite the voter-initiated law broke down largely along party lines, with Republican lawmakers deciding in favor of the change and Democratic members largely voting ‘present.’ An alternative measure backed by members of the Democratic Caucus that sought to make only minor administrative changes to the initiative was defeated.

    Once signed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, the new law takes immediate effect.

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