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NORML Blog

  • by Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML November 17, 2018

     

    Two years after suing to keep medical marijuana off the ballot, on Tuesday, Jean Peters Baker, the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney, announced that her office will stop prosecuting most marijuana possession cases. In June of this year, the St. Louis City Prosecuting Attorney, Kim Gardner, took similar action on simple possession cases of up to 100 grams.

    This development follows the November 6 landslide victory of Amendment 2, a state Constitutional amendment, which legalized access to medical marijuana for Missouri patients in a form similar to laws already passed in 31 other states. Missouri voters supported this measure by 66% statewide. Amendment 2 received more yes votes than any of the other issues on that ballot and any candidates on that ballot.

    Approximately 75% of the voters in Jackson County endorsed Amendment 2. In April of 2017, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved passage of a city ordinance reducing punishment for possession of marijuana to a $25 fine. That initiative, placed on the ballot by members of NORML KC, also received support from 75% of the voters, despite the campaign having almost no money and being opposed by The Kansas City Star and at least one former prosecuting attorney on the Kansas City Council.

    The decision by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to cease prosecuting most marijuana possession cases is all the more interesting when one considers the fact that only two years ago, Ms. Peters Baker joined with a handful of other Missouri prosecuting attorneys to sue the Missouri Secretary of State to keep medical marijuana off the ballot! That lawsuit did not succeed in keeping the measure off the ballot, but it did create an additional hurdle and a distraction for the campaign. The 2016 effort ultimately failed because it fell short of the number of petition signatures required in one of Missouri’s eight Congressional districts.

    Smart politicians around the state will surely soon recognize that a solid majority of Missouri voters favor progressive marijuana law reforms. NORML hopes to see this fact reflected in the actions of the Missouri General Assembly. Pre-filing of bills in the legislature begins December 1. The legislature convenes its 2019 session the first week of January. NORML calls on other Missouri Prosecutors to follow the example of the St. Louis City and Jackson County Prosecutors.

    For More Information Contact Dan Viets, 573-819-2669 or DanViets@gmail.com

    Keep up-to-date with marijuana law reform efforts in Missouri by following Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

  • by NORML November 16, 2018

    One of the US Senate’s leading marijuana prohibitionists, Iowa Republican Charles Grassley, will no longer be heading the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 116th Congress.

    Representative Grassley announced today that he is stepping down as Chair of the Committee. As Chair, Grassley refused to hold any hearings or votes on marijuana-related legislation, including bipartisan legislative efforts like the STATES Act. Virtually all Senate legislation specific to marijuana policy must pass through the Judiciary Committee.

    Representative Grassley received a D- grade on NORML’s 2018 Congressional Scorecard.

    Next in line to Chair the Committee is Republican Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who received a C grade from NORML.

    “As the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham will have to make a choice when it comes to marijuana,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Will he continue to perpetuate the failed policy of federal criminalization which resulted in over 659,000 Americans being handcuffed in 2017 alone, or will he be open to reform in a way that reflects the rapidly evolving nature of cannabis policy in the majority of states?”

    Representative Grassley’s decision to step down follows the retirement of House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and the failed re-election bid of House Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX) – both of whom similarly used their powers as Chair to stifle any legislative debate on marijuana policy.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate

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

    U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a “guarantee” that hemp legalization will be in the finalized Farm Bill. “If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there, I guarantee that,” he told reporters.

    Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) has introduced a series of bills aimed at addressing the therapeutic use of marijuana among veterans.

    Incoming U.S. House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA) says he will allow floor debates and votes on marijuana amendments, “unlike his predecessors.”

    At the state level, Utah lawmakers are expected to consider a compromise medical cannabis bill during a special session beginning December 3.

    New Jersey’s Assembly speaker and Senate president said they expect committee votes on legalizing marijuana by the end of this month. The Republican Assembly leader said legalization is “inevitable.” And a key state senator who was once opposed to ending prohibition is now expressing support.

    A spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the governor plans to “introduce a formal comprehensive [marijuana legalization] proposal during the 2019 legislative session.” A New York senator said she believes Cuomo and lawmakers will legalize marijuana in the state via the 2019 budget.

    It’s possible that Massachusetts recreational marijuana sales could begin on Sunday. The state’s top regulator said sales will likely start in “a week plus or minus maybe a couple of days longer than that.”

    The Vermont marijuana legalization study committee’s taxation and regulation subcommittee plans to recommend a 26% or 27% tax rate on sales.

    An Indiana state senator plans to file several marijuana reform bills, including decriminalization and medical marijuana legislation. A North Dakota representative plans to file a marijuana decriminalization bill. A Wisconsin state senator also plans to introduce a bill in 2019 to legalize marijuana for adults.

    Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz (D) and the incoming House speaker said that the state will consider legalizing marijuana in 2019.

    At a more local level, the Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor said she will stop pursuing most marijuana possession cases. Similarly, Albany County, New York’s district attorney said that starting on December 1, he will no longer prosecute simple marijuana possession cases.

    Muskegon County, Michigan’s prosecutor is dropping some pending marijuana charges in light of legalization and is considering expunging past convictions. Separately, some Michigan municipalities are already moving to opt out of allowing legal marijuana sales, at least temporarily.

    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.

    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

    Texas

    House Bill 63 has been pre-filed by Rep. Joe Moody that seeks to replace current criminal sanctions for marijuana possession with a civil penalty, punishable by a fine only with no jail or criminal record.

    TX resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization

    Senate Bill 90 has been pre-filed by Sen. Jose Menendez that seeks to expand the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) and make it more inclusive and compassionate for patients.

    TX resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical cannabis expansion

    Virginia

    Senator Adam Ebbin filed Senate Bill 997, seeking to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana in Virginia.

    If passed, the bill would provide a civil penalty of no more than $50 for a first violation, $100 for a second violation, and $250 for a third or subsequent violation. The bill also requires that the suspended sentence substance abuse screening provisions and driver’s license suspension provisions apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a juvenile.

    VA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization

  • by Justin See, Board Member, Indiana NORML November 15, 2018

    On Tuesday, November 6th, Indiana voters took their final opportunity to vote in the 2018 midterm election. While Indiana did not have the opportunity to vote directly on cannabis propositions as in other states, there were numerous candidates on the ballot supportive of reforming our cannabis laws. Many of them did not win their races, but this election was not without wins for cannabis reform in Indiana. Here are some highlights and some races we’re still watching:

    JD Ford: State Senate District 29

    During the 2018 session, state senator Mike Delph (R) voted against legalizing CBD products in Indiana, an issue widely supported by Hoosiers. JD Ford (D), on the other hand, actively campaigned on the issue of cannabis. “I believe that it is time to work with law enforcement agencies, healthcare groups, and other stakeholders to legalize medical cannabis and decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis,” Ford told us in response to one of our candidate survey questions. Delph responded to the same question about decriminalization by stating that, “This is not our most pressing area of criminal law. From a practical standpoint, we really need the federal government to address its position before we can meaningfully do so at the state level.”

    JD Ford won his race and will be a new voice for reforming our cannabis laws in the Indiana Senate, where the sentiment on cannabis legislation is thought to be more even more hostile than in the House.

    Chris Campbell: Indiana House District 26

    Chris Campbell (D) ran against incumbent state representative Sally Siegriest (R), and won with 57% of the vote. In response to our candidate survey, Campbell said she was supportive of implementing a medical cannabis program in Indiana, decriminalizing cannabis, and allowing retail sales of cannabis for personal use.

    Chris Chyung: Indiana House District 15

    In house district 15, Chris Chyung (D) won his race against incumbent Harold Slager (R). “The federal government also needs to set clear guidelines on the legality of cannabis,” Chyung said in response to a question posed by NWI Times about issues that required action from the federal government, “Colorado has benefited to the tune of over half a billion dollars in revenue alone, and more in jobs growth and economic development. I will never allow Indiana to leave that kind of potential money on the table.”

    Other races with supportive candidates remain to be called. Due to widespread issues at polling locations, results for Indiana’s 4th house district might not be available until November 16th, although candidate Frank Szczepanski (D) supports implementing a medical program, decriminalization, and the legalization of retail sales for personal use.

    Read more here: https://www.inorml.org/election-highlights/

    For more information about marijuana law reform efforts in Indiana, follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

  • by Madisen Saglibene, Executive Director of Las Vegas NORML November 14, 2018

    Members of the Nevada NORML chapters, alongside representatives from Denver NORML, Arizona NORML and the National NORML Board of Directors, participated in Las Vegas’ first Business-to-Consumer Cannabis conference this weekend at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

    The Herban Expo opened its doors Friday as a free convention available to the public. While there are a vast array of emerging expos and shows within the cannabis space, Herban Expo’s unique focus on consumers and free entry certainly set it apart. With nearly 50 vendors from across Nevada regions and nationwide, the show floor remained a steady source of valuable education and networking all weekend.

    It was a great honor that Las Vegas NORML was asked to organize the panels and educational content, for all three days on the main stage. The Las Vegas NORML stage ended up featuring almost 30 panels and presentations, composed of over 60 experts! The feedback from attendees regarding their experiences were overwhelmingly positive. Topics of panels included, “CannaParents”, Criminal Justice Reform, Cannabis is Medicine, Social Use Lounges, How to Start a Cannabis Support Business, and more.

    As part of NORML’s call to action over the weekend, members from the various chapters led efforts to collect letters to Congress in support of marijuana reform. Though the goal for the weekend was 500, nearly 600 letters were signed to demonstrate support for the STATES Act, SAFE Banking Act, the Marijuana Data Collection Act and expansion for Veterans’ Access! Attendees of the event were eager to participate in the letter writing campaign and found it to be a great opportunity to familiarize themselves with current federal legislation.

    This past weekend hundreds of marijuana related businesses arrived early in Las Vegas for MJ BizCon, the largest Marijuana conference to hit the states, but entry costs nearly $700 for the general public. Herban Expo will return again in 2019 and NORML chapters are excited to remain an active part in the educational aspects in order to bring consumers the most valuable experience possible. 

    More about this year’s expo and upcoming info for future events can be found at www.HerbanExpo.com. Thank you everyone that attended! See you in 2019! Follow Las Vegas and Nevada NORML on Instagram (@lasvegasNORML & @NevadaNORML) for more information about upcoming events.

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