NORML’s Weekly Legislative Update

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 9, 2010

    Lawmakers around the country are debating a record number of marijuana law reform bills in 2010. NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up is your one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country, along with tips for influencing the policies of your state.

    ** Remember: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and make the changes they want to see. We can’t do it without you.

    Washington: Democrat Gov. Christine Gregoire signed legislation into law last week that expands the state’s nearly twelve-year-old medical marijuana law. Senate Bill 5798 allows additional health care professionals including naturopaths, physician’s assistants, osteopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians assistants, and advanced registered nurse practitioners to legally recommend marijuana therapy to their patients. Presently, only licensed physicians may legally recommend medicinal cannabis.

    Washington is the first state to codify these recommendation rights into law. Senate Bill 5798 takes effect on June 10, 2010.

    Maine: State lawmakers approved legislation this week establishing guidelines for the establishment of state-authorized medical marijuana distribution facilities. As approved by the legislature, LD 1811 authorizes the creation of up to eight nonprofit medical cannabis dispensaries – one for each of the state’s public health districts. Under the measure, dispensaries may legally “acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, sell, supply or dispenses marijuana or related supplies and educational materials” to state-authorized medical marijuana patients.

    Patients and/or their caregivers will still be allowed to cultivate their own medical cannabis under state law. However, patients will now be required to join a confidential state registry in order to be able to legally possess and grow marijuana for medicinal purposes. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services will oversee the new medical marijuana programs.

    Last November, voters approved Question 5, the Maine Marijuana Medical Act, which amends existing state law by: establishing a confidential patient registry; expanding the list of qualifying conditions for which a physician may recommend medicinal cannabis; and by allowing for the creation of state-licensed nonprofit dispensaries. In 1999, 61 percent of state voters approved the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana. However, the law did not establish a state identification registry for qualified patients, nor did it address regulating the distribution of medical marijuana.

    Democrat Gov. John Baldacci is anticipated to sign the dispensary measure into law imminently.

    Ohio: House lawmakers this week introduced House Bill 478, the Ohio Medical Compassion Act. The act would allow state-authorized patients to possess and cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The bill allows for authorized patients or their designated caregivers to cultivate medical marijuana, but only at designated registered sites. Patients are allowed to possess up to 200 grams of usable cannabis (about six ounces) or 12 mature plants under this proposal. To support this measure, visit the Ohio Patient’s Network or NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.

    Pennsylvania: Minor marijuana possession offenses in the city of Philadelphia will be no longer be prosecuted as criminal misdemeanors, according to a policy change announced this week by new District Attorney Seth Williams. Philadelphia NORML had been lobbying for the policy change after publishing a report which found that African American males comprised an estimated 83 percent of all persons in Philadelphia arrested for minor marijuana possession offenses.

    Under the new policy, which is anticipated to take effect later this month, prosecutors will charge minor marijuana possession (defined as 30 grams or less) as ‘summary offenses’ rather than criminal misdemeanors. Defendants will be required to pay a fine, but will not face incarceration or receive a criminal record. Under the previous District Attorney, the city criminally prosecuted some 3,000 minor marijuana possession cases per year.

    You can read further details regarding this policy change here, here, and here.

    To learn about pending legislation in additional states — and how you can get involved, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.

    17 responses to “NORML’s Weekly Legislative Update”

    1. William says:

      #7 Bama that is a great idea. How about it Norml. I would like some help please. Here in east Idaho the police and large corporations like Monsanto hold this small town in a grip of fear, making it almost impossible to organize any reform efforts. Pepole say I don’t care it’s not that important,or that’s just the way it is there is nothing we can do about it, and the same old marijuana will always be illegal because everybody makes more money off it that way. Also with news from Califorina of the possibility of legalization the prohibitionists have the dirty trick bag wide open.I support the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use as an important issue of personal freedoms and individual libertys set down as law in our nations bill of righis. Anyone got my back? Russ @ Norml has my e-mail address. Thanks,

    2. ccbcforcannabis says:

      Props Bob Ehrlich. I was wondering why we Marylanders aren’t in there at all. The bill is being debated tonight I believe. One small step.

      [Paul Armentano responds: The Senate version of Maryland’s dispensary bill received a favorable vote (with amendments) on the Senate floor on Saturday, but the House is not expected to address the issue until next year.


      The Maryland Senate voted 35-12 on Saturday to give sick people access to marijuana, sending a strong message that the upper chamber is serious about the controversial idea.

      House leaders have said they will not take up the measure this year. The legislature’s 90-day session ends on Monday.]

    3. Smartstoner says:

      Well as least PHILLY is realizing that complete prohibition is not the answer. NOT Legalization, but a small step towards our goal. Every little bit counts.

    4. It’s a good idea that in Pennsylvania people that caught with less than 30 grams will only receive a summary offense instead of criminal misdemeanor. This will be another step in legalizing weed, and also will stop locking up people for just smoking weed. I think Baltimore need to start making a move towards legalizing marijuana as well. Also Ohio has proposed a law that will never get passed. Why would they allow people the grow marijuana for them self. As good as it sounds but, doubt that it would ever happen. Legalizing regular weed should most likely come before, allowing people to grow their own medical marijuana. But it’s neat that you can see in almost every state someone is trying to speak out, and make marijuana legal.

    5. packlama says:

      i know someone who is aguard in mass who drinks like a fish and drives all the time.i cant think why he is for drinking and not weed.i am for legal weed.just smoke a joint and lighten up.

    6. bighare1 says:

      In response to William #11:
      Read my comment #34 & #35 under the title “America Want Lower Taxes? Legalize Marijuana.

    7. leelivst says:

      Marijuana is an herb. We all know its history and why its on the goverments dirty list. I once met a federal court judge. She was a patient in the hospital I worked in. She admitted to me that she smoked it in college. She also stated that both her sons were users.In a way its kind of sad that the push for legalized weed will be based on the financial interests of state goverment. As is always the case logic and truth mean nothing. As you watch the ads on tv posted by law firms concerning toxic drugs the corrupt FDA allowed on the market, you cant help but wonder why people go to jail for smoking a plant that belongs here…Lee.

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