Coming To A State House Near You: Legal Cannabis?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 10, 2010


    January 2010 is off to a ‘smoking’ start. Lawmakers in three key states — New Jersey, California, and Washington — are taking action this week on legislative measures that seek to significantly amend, or end, marijuana prohibition. Here’s a quick look at the week ahead.

    Monday: [UPDATE 3!!! The New Jersey State Assembly and Senate have approved the “New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” (A804/S119).  Governor Jon Corzine is expected to sign the legislation into law this week. The measure is expected to take effect in six months, at which time New Jersey will become the 14th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. Major thanks go out to Ken Wolski and Jim Miller of Coalition for Medical Marijuana — New Jersey, and to NORML New Jersey‘s Chris Goldstein. Without their efforts it is unlikely that this victory would be upon us today.]

    Tuesday: [UPDATE!!! I have just returned from Sacramento and wanted to confirm to folks that AB 390 did pass out of Committee by a 4-3 vote. A google news search under the key words “marijuana” and “California” with yield plenty of media coverage, with much more to come.] Members of the California Assembly, Public Safety Committee will vote on Assembly Bill 390, the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, which seeks to regulate and control the production, distribution, and personal use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. This vote will mark the first time since 1913, when California became one of the first states in the nation to enact cannabis prohibition, that lawmakers have reassessed this failed policy. (See my op/ed in today’s Sacramento Bee here.) A press conference is anticipated to take place immediately following the vote. You can read NORML’s prepared testimony here and here, and you can voice your support for this effort by going here.

    Wednesday: Washington state House lawmakers will hear testimony at 1:30pm in favor of a pair of bills seeking to significantly reduce state marijuana penalties. Members of the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness will debate two pending proposals, House Bill 1177 and House Bill 2401. House Bill 1177 seeks to reclassify the possession of forty grams or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a class 2 civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine. House Bill 2401 seeks to “remove all existing civil and criminal penalties for adults 21 years of age or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana.” This will be the first time state lawmakers have ever debated regulating marijuana production, distribution, and use by adults.

    NORML representatives will be testifying in Olympia on Wednesday (Read testimony here.), and NORML Advisory Board member Rick Steves will also be hosting a public forum on the topic at Olympia’s Capitol Theater on Tuesday evening. If you live in Washington, you can urge the Committee to vote ‘yes’ on one or both of these measures by going here and here.

    For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    66 responses to “Coming To A State House Near You: Legal Cannabis?”

    1. Amber Ryan says:

      Everyone in Florida go to http://www.pufmm.org and print/sign a petition to get Medical Marijuana on the ballot. We need 700,000 signatures!

    2. The Oracle says:

      What about Pennsylvania? Let’s put some effort behind getting it legal in Pennsylvania, too! PA just legalized table games in their casinos, so any kind of a counterargument against legalization on the grounds of concern for addiction or kids getting in on it are simply specious. With proper control measures minors will not unlawfully get ahold of cannabis, just as they can’t get into the casinos or buy lottery tickets and get winnings.

      Why isn’t the international press harping on the violence in Mexico front page or second page just about every day to put the pressure on the U.S. to simply legalize?! Americans are not simply going to give up cannabis, and the smuggling routes are going to stay open, and the corrupt officials will still be supplementing their legal income with underground profits, so it may just be a matter of time before islamic fundamentalist terrorists weedle their way in that way.

      Just legalize cannabis! Act like grown-ups! People do it, whether you like it or not, and they’re not going to stop or go away just because you prohibitionists don’t like it.

      [Paul Armentano responds: What about Pennsylvania? NORML and especially it’s local affiliates (Philly NORML and Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana) have been working their butts off in Pennsylvania over the past few months — culminating weeks ago in the first ever state legislative hearings on the issue. You can read NORML’s testimony from the hearing here: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=8032.%5D

    3. Brett says:

      @ Amber Ryan
      Fat chance on that. Florida is waaay too unorganized. i signed it, but i doubt it will make the ballot.

    4. A Guy says:

      I don’t know, the odds are pretty heavily against ’em, but onward we must fight.

    5. The Oracle says:

      Thanks for your commentary, Paul, and I really mean that from the bottom of my heart. I knew all that already as I am a member of Philly NORML, and just gave them another donation after reading your comment. I put my money where my mouth is, and more money means more of an effort. I was one of the first to give Barry Busch money on this issue, although I don’t live in the city of Philadelphia itself. It just seems like after the initial broaching of the issue in PA, it just fizzled out and dropped off the radar screen. I hope it comes back, and I hope others from PA who see this can open up their wallets and donate, especially if they haven’t at all. As a cancer patient, I really want to see medical marijuana in Pennsylvania soon!

      [Paul Armentano responds: Thank you too. We are all in this together.]

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    7. Ganjjamon says:

      I urge all of you to take the bong and set it down ..for a second and go to the take action center. Make your voice heard , Now could be our time. Amsterdam is a long expensive trip, I for one would much rather save my money for tasty nugs and the opportunity to smoke in peace here in good old USA, instead of paying outrageous prices in europe. Cannabis Cup USA 2010/2011!!!!

    8. HighMtnSkier says:

      Let’s do this NJ!

    9. Melissa says:

      It’s about time. Think of the Millions and Billions of lives that will be saved.

    10. Justin says:

      Come on washington!!! Its only the right thing to do living next to Canada, Oregon and not too far from the state that will most likely make U.S. history first, California. NORTHWEST is setting a landmark