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NORML Blog

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director December 16, 2018

    Following the lead of other major cities and counties in states that have legalized adult-use marijuana such as San Francisco and San Diego in California and Seattle and Pierce County in Washington, local officials in Colorado are taking action to undo the injustices of marijuana prohibition.

    Six years after voters in Colorado legalized adult-use marijuana, Boulder County, which encompasses the city of Boulder, and the City of Denver, have announced plans to expunge past convictions of low-level marijuana crimes from criminal records. Regardless of adult-use marijuana being legal to possess and consume in 10 states, a lingering marijuana-related conviction can prevent otherwise honest and hardworking adults from job opportunities, housing and financial resources.

    Boulder County Assistant District Attorney Ken Kupfner shared his thoughts in a recent interview with Colorado Public Radio:

    “We want to help people whose convictions are having the greatest impact first,” Kupfner said. “It could span everything from jobs to potential housing to educational opportunities. Anytime someone has a conviction, even for marijuana, it still shows up as a conviction.”

    Read more here: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/boulder-county-makes-move-to-cancel-past-marijuana-convictions

    Following the announcement from the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled a new citywide effort to expunge low-level marijuana convictions that occurred in Denver before voters legalized adult-use marijuana in 2012. According to the Mayor’s office, more than 10,000 convictions for low-level marijuana crimes will be eligible for expungement.

    Read more here: https://komonews.com/news/local/following-seattle-denver-officials-want-to-erase-low-level-marijuana-offenses

    Colorado state law currently only allows for the expungement of juvenile records, arrests based on mistaken identity and underage DUI offenses. However, in 2017 Representatives Edie Hooton and Jovan Melton worked together to pass HB 1266, which allows those who were convicted of criminal offenses for the use, cultivation, or possession of marijuana to petition for the sealing of criminal records. Certainly a step in the right direction.

    Lawmakers in California, Delaware, Rhode Island, Oregon and others have taken similar steps to allow for the expungement of marijuana-related convictions or at the very least, seal criminal records. With a record number of state legislatures expected to consider numerous bills to tax and regulate adult-use marijuana in 2019, advocates can rest assured that expungement will continue to be a part of the conversation.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more information follow Colorado NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website

  • by Norm Kent, NORML Board of Directors December 15, 2018

    home cultivationWriting from Key West last week, where I addressed the 35thannual legal conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, I was fishing not only for Blue Marlin, but justice.

    Two years ago, Florida citizens voted for and passed a constitutional amendment allowing our residents to use marijuana medicinally.

    The law passed overwhelmingly, with nearly 72 percent of the vote. No recount was required.  In this hotly contested and partisan state, no candidate running for statewide office won with that much of a majority. Candidate “Cannabis” garnered more votes than every Tom, Dick, and Sally running for office.

    Two years later though, there are few, if any, dispensaries on your corner. Two years later, the city commissions are still passing moratoriums on them. They are negligently joined at the hip by irresponsible legislators failing to fulfill their legal duties. The will of the electorate is inexcusably and unjustifiably being denied.

    Governor-elect Rick DeSantis has honorably stated that the legislature has a duty and obligation to implement a regulatory scheme, which carries out the will of the people.

    While DeSantis also said he does not support legalization, he has committed himself publicly to seeing Florida citizens be allowed access to medical marijuana.

    The incoming governor can take the first step by directing his new Attorney General to stop fighting a legal battle in the courts designed to prevent actual cannabis, the flowered plant, to be sold at dispensaries. Under the guidelines authored by Florida’s legislature, you can only buy cannabis oil and edibles. Folks, this “no smoke” is a joke.

    Let’s be real. When you, me and nearly 72 percent of all voters cast your ballots to make medical marijuana available, we meant the flowered plant, not a stool sample. You voted to enact a constitutional amendment, which provided for medical marijuana to be reasonably accessible to citizens of our state. You are entitled to make your vote matter.

    Unfortunately, the state legislature failed to enact your directive. It fraudulently fashioned rules forbidding dispensary owners from selling actual cannabis. Instead of partnering with a new industry wisely, it has created obstacles foolishly.

    The licensees empowered to open dispensaries have paid the state millions of dollars to cultivate cannabis lawfully. They have purchased large tracts of land to initiate outdoor grows. They have acquired enormous warehouse bays to produce high-grade, hydroponically grown marijuana. They are getting screwed, too. They can’t sell it and we can’t buy it.

    We are all tired of having to buy cannabis illegally on street corners. We are sick of watching our friends stupidly go to jail for purchasing a product we are now allowing the state to collect money from. Let’s get our act together. Let’s demand a change.

    Marijuana initiatives are passing all over the country. States are proactively enacting them, not foolishly postponing them. Seven more states joined the fold in November.

    In Florida, attorney John Morgan, out of Orlando, has led the battle to medicalize marijuana. With groups like the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, People United for Medical Marijuana and Regulate Florida also championing this cause, the citizenry of our state has spoken powerfully for medical pot.

    It is sheer foolishness and remarkable stupidity for politicians to oppose what is clearly a green wave sweeping across America.  Polling now suggests 65 percent of all Americans want pot legalized. Across America, 32 states have now decriminalized, medicalized, or legalized pot.

    It has taken nearly half a century, but now more than half of America is on our side. We have come a long way. If you stand your ground though, and there abide, the world will eventually come around to you.

    Marijuana use never should have been criminalized, and cannabis consumers never should have become criminals. Pot always was and still is a simple herb with medicinal uses and recreational qualities. It was never an evil which would end the world. To fulfill their own political agendas, our leaders lied to us. Surprise.

    The war against pot has been a waste of national resources, destroying lives, jailing good people, and diluting valuable law enforcement resources. It has been almost 50 years since the one-time governor of Pennsylvania, Raymond Schaefer, a Republican, released a report recommending that the federal government decriminalize the personal use of marijuana.

    Today, even the former speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, another Republican, works in the cannabis industry marketing legal marijuana for private entrepreneurs.

    In the United States Congress, we must once and for all end the legal farce that permits cannabis to be listed as a Schedule 1 drug with “no accepted medical uses.” This regulation is why 18-year-old kids in 18 states across this country are still having to post bail for using pot.

    Reasonable access to medical marijuana is now the law of our state, and if our city commissioners and state legislators don’t enact ordinances to provide for it promptly, they are the ones who should be held accountable at the ballot box.

    The failure of our state to make medical cannabis easily accessible in 2018 has inspired a new initiative for 2020. The next ballot amendment will ask you to support statewide legalization. Until then, we have a right to mandate that the constitutional amendment of 2016 be implemented fairly.

    If you cannot acquire medicinal pot in our state today, the only ones who belong in jail are the legislators who are failing to carry out your directives, entered at voting booths across this state two years ago. Lock them up, not you.

    As for you, there is no doubt. If you are a patient, you should be able to go into a dispensary and acquire cannabis lawfully. We as a people have decreed it as our legal right.

    Fighting for legal marijuana has always been a civil rights cause, more now than ever. Your right. Your body. Your choice.  No one can or should be allowed to stand in your way. Stand up and let your voice and votes be heard from South Florida to Tallahassee.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate December 14, 2018

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

    There’s been some key developments in Congress this week, including the passage of The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka ‘The Farm Bill’) by both the U.S. House and Senate. The hemp-specific provisions of the Act amend the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance under federal law. This would pave the way for states to commercially regulate hemp and hemp-derived products as they see fit. The President is anticipated to sign the bill into law in the coming days.

    Additionally, newly introduced legislation, the Maintaining Appropriate Protections For Legal Entry (MAPLE) Act, would ease the tension for Canadians involved in the newly legal marijuana industry trying to enter the United States. The measure would provide protections for individuals whose actions are “lawful in the State, Indian Tribe, or foreign country in which the conduct occurred” or that was “subsequently made lawful under the law or regulation of such jurisdiction,” in regard to the emerging legal status of marijuana in the United States and internationally. You can send a message to your Representative in support of The Maple Act by clicking here.

    At the state level, it’s official that legalization legislation in New Jersey will not be passed before the end of this year. Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Coughlin, along with Governor Murphy, still have not decided on key details of the proposal, including tax rates and the governing body that would oversee the regulated industry.

    Lawmakers in Nebraska have established a campaign committee called Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws that will aim to qualify a 2020 medical cannabis ballot measure, and possibly even adult use as well. Click here to read more.

    As New York State begins to draft adult use marijuana legalization legislation, the state’s Department of Health, in partnership with NYU and RAND, are funding a survey to gain insight on individuals’ first hand experience with cannabis consumption. The survey responses will help shape what the legislation will entail, and what the adult use market will look like. Click here to submit your response.

    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

    Missouri

    A state lawmaker has pre-filed legislation, House Bill 157, to eliminate criminal and civil penalties specific to the adult possession and cultivation of marijuana.

    If passed, the measure would permit those age 21 or older to privately possess up to two ounces of marijuana or cultivate up to six marijuana plants, three of which may be mature.

    MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of depenalization

    Legislation has been pre-filed, HB 238, to protect the privacy of registered medical marijuana patients.

    The measure would prohibit the state government from sharing medical marijuana user or registry info with the federal government.

    MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

    California

    Legislation has been re-introduced by Sen. Bob Hertzberg [D], SB 51, to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director

    An effort to undermine Michigan’s Proposition 1, a voter approved initiative that legalized adult-use marijuana failed to gain support in the Senate. In a last-ditch effort to deny Michigan residents the legal right to grow marijuana in their home, Senate Majority Leader Meekhof introduced SB 1243 that would have stripped the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act of language that allows adults to grow 12 plants at home for personal use.

    Due to a limited timeframe and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle unwilling to support the bill, Majority Leader Meekhof’s effort to undermine the will of voters failed miserably. With the Legislature scheduled to adjourn next week, marijuana consumers in Michigan have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season!

    “When Senator Meekhof introduced SB 1243, the advocate community in Michigan coalesced like mercury. Everyone was unified in opposition to overreaching bill so we were able to apply a lot of pressure in both chambers of the legislature,” said Brad Forrester, Board Member of Michigan NORML. “I would like to think that’s the reason the bill failed, but frankly, it failed because it was a bad bill and even Meekhof’s own colleagues couldn’t bring themselves to support it.”

    Read more here: https://www.freep.com/story/news/marijuana/2018/12/13/michigan-marijuana-bill/2300912002/

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more information follow Michigan NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director December 13, 2018
    Legal Marijuana Sales Being in Canada

    Legal Marijuana Sales Being in Canada

    Following Canada’s decision to become the first country in North America to legalize the use and retail sale of cannabis, the US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection Agency published a memorandum affirming that those Canadians either involved or invested in the legal cannabis industry may be barred admission into the United States. The agency modified their policy directive on October 9, 2018, acknowledging: “A Canadian citizen working in … the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the US for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the United States. However, if a traveler is found to be coming to the US for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

    In response to this hard-line position, Representative Earl Blumenauer, the founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, has introduced the Maintaining Appropriate Protections For Legal Entry Act (HR 7275), or The MAPLE Act for short.

    This legislation provides protections for individuals whose actions are “lawful in the State, Indian Tribe, or foreign country in which the conduct occurred” or that was “subsequently made lawful under the law or regulation of such jurisdiction,” in regard to the emerging legal status of marijuana in the United States and internationally.

    You can send a message to your Representative in support of The Maple Act by clicking here. 

    There have already been examples of the United State’s punitive border policy needlessly wrecking lives. In one such example, an individual received a lifetime ban from entering the United States on November 14th simply because he was an investor in a legal Canadian marijuana business.

    It is crucial that the United States recognizes the rights of both our citizens and our international allies to be able to travel freely between our two nations, and to reform federal border policies to acknowledge this new reality.

    Click here to tell your lawmaker to support The Maple Act. 

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