NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 12, 2011

    For a listing of all of the pending marijuana law reform proposals that NORML is tracking, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here. (For a map of pending legislation, please visit here.)

    Delaware: House and Senate lawmakers have given final approval to legislation, Senate Bill 17, which allows for the state-authorized use and distribution of medical cannabis. Senate Bill 17, The Delaware Medical Marijuana Act amends state law so that patients with an authorized “debilitating medical condition” can possess and consume cannabis (up to six ounces) obtained from state-licensed facilities. The measure provides for the establishment of at least one non-profit ‘compassion center’ per county that would be licensed by the state to produce and dispense medical cannabis. The measure now goes before Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, who is expected to sign it. If SB 17 becomes law, Delaware will become the sixteenth state since 1996 to allow for the physician-supervised use of marijuana.

    Maryland: On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation, Senate Bill 308, into law expanding the state’s eight-year-old ‘affirmative defense’ law. Senate Bill 308 removes fines and criminal penalties for citizens who, at trial, successfully raise an ‘affirmative defense’ establishing that they possessed limited amounts of marijuana for medical purposes. As initially introduced, SB 308 and its House companion bill sought to establish a government-regulated program to provide qualified patients with legal access to state-licensed producers and distributors of medical cannabis. However, the measure was rewritten after Maryland’s Department of Health secretary testified against it. State lawmakers are expected to revisit the possibility of regulating the production and distribution of medical marijuana next year, after the issue is further examined by a legislative ‘work group’ of medical, legal, and law enforcement professionals.

    Vermont: House and Senate lawmakers last week gave final approval to Senate Bill 17, which allows state-licensed facilities to dispense marijuana to medically authorized patients. House lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the proposal despite last-minute warnings from the U.S. Justice Department alleging that SB 17 would conflict with federal anti-drug laws. As approved, each dispensary would be licensed by the state Department of Public Safety and would be permitted to serve up to 1,000 registered patients. Senate Bill 17 now goes to the desk of Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, who is on record in support of the measure.

    Connecticut: Members of the Joint Finance Committee this week voted 31 to 20 in favor of Senate Bill 1014, which amends state law so that the adult possession of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a nominal fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. This measure would similarly reduce penalties on the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Members of the Joint Judiciary Committee had previously approved the bill in April. The measure, which is backed by Gov. Dan Malloy, now moves to the Senate, where it faces potential resistance from lawmakers. If you reside in Connecticut, you can support this campaign and/or contact your Senate member in favor of SB 1014 via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    California: The California Assembly is considering legislation, AB 1017, to reduce criminal penalties for marijuana cultivation. The bill seeks to downgrade cultivation from a mandatory felony to a “wobbler” or alternative misdemeanor. This would permit judges and DA’s to treat minor cultivation cases as misdemeanors, at considerable cost savings to both users and law enforcement. AB 1017 was approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee by a 4-3 vote on May 3rd, and is now awaiting a vote by the full Assembly. You can urge your member of the Assembly to vote ‘yes’ on AB 1017 by clicking here.

    New York: State Senate and Assembly lawmakers this week introduced bi-partisan legislation, Senate Bill 5187 and Assembly Bill 7620, seeking to reduce marijuana penalties and arrest violations involving cases where where marijuana was either consumed or allegedly possessed in public [NY State Penal Law 221.10]. Under present law, non-public possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana is a non-criminal civil citation, punishable by a $100 fine. However, in recent years, police — particularly in New York City — have misused Penal Law 221.10 to arrest tens of thousands of defendants who would have otherwise faced no more than a civil citation. Passage of SB 5187 and AB 7620 will save taxpayer dollars, protect citizens against illegal searches, and reduce unwarranted racial disparities in arrests by clarifying the law and standardizing penalties for marijuana possession offenses. If you live in New York state you can urge your state Senator and member of the Assembly to support these measures by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    24 responses to “NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up”

    1. […] NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and Enjoy: […]

    2. Gage says:

      Talking to my state representatives about marijuana laws does as much good as yelling at a wall. It’s good to see that at least progress is being made in other parts of the country.

    3. dgr8ifier says:

      That doesn’t show anything about NY decriminalizing…just a cry to actually enforce the law instead of abusing it.

      Now, a story about legislation going through about actual decrim would be amazing!

    4. Shauna says:

      Finally something Positive about New York marijuana laws. I know 2 people that got busted due to the manipulation of the existing law.

      (Paul) maybe you could address how to respond to police officers that do this?

    5. Nina says:

      Wish MS or TN was on the list.

    6. […] Assembly to support these measures by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ hereresource: NORMLShareMail Order Medical Marijuana Shipping & DeliveryOrder Online 24 hours a day, 7 days a […]

    7. Bhonze says:

      Amen Nina, I am in MS; looks like we’ll be on the tail end of this one. The South has been completely brain washed when it comes to cannabis. We need to start a major education program for this. Once I get to talk to people here they realize it’s all a government hoax. They have no problem when it comes to alcohol they wrote the book!!!

    8. dave says:

      STONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO!!! similar to gay rights..but if it is not your cup of tea then dont drink it…but dont put us down because we do…it helps not hurts…besides its my constitutional right to partake in a sacrement of religion.. as well as pursuit of happiness…people need to start thinking for them selves instead of the propaganda of the “WAR ON STONERS” the persecution must stop…its worse than any race persecution has ever been…thank you for listening.

    9. Justin says:

      I’m confused as to what this means,i live in ny and have 2 upms.The first was for 3.5 grams and the second was for a measly .5 of a gr…does this change any laws at all? If anything i think it should be made so you need at least minimum of over 7-10 grs to even get fined/cited.Its complete bull too,$100 fine my ass they throw $125 surcharge on top of it making the fine $225.Now i dont know about you but im 21 and 75% of people in court were there for the same charge all around the same age,how many 21 yr olds do you know who can just drop $225 like its nothing.Not me thats for sure.Were in the transition Of becoming adults and building up money for a car/our own place to live while the goverment is robbing us blind all because we like to smoke a plant,it makes me wanna throw all the state/gov officials in prison just like the no good criminals they are.You know they all go home and drink/smoke

    10. TheOracle says:

      Now if only Senator Patricia Vance of Pennsylvania could get past the opposition from the Momstell organization in her district, Pennsylvania could benefit from the jobs and revenues legal medical marijuana would bring. The state needs the revenue, and the governor is on the take with contributions from Marcellus Shale to his campaign so won’t tax that. The state has a surplus, but the governor is saving that for the “rainy day fund” which quite likely will be used to clean up pollution from the shale sites because he won’t tax them.

      If you get NYC to fall in line, Philly will, and then you the megalopolis on the eastern seaboard will be on board, i.e. urban area from Boston to DC.

      Can you get some “smokeeasies” going in the big cities going by having the city administration order the police departments to make marijuana the lowest priority, even lower than a traffic citation or jaywalking citation? Then, you could have smokeeasies/cannabis speakeasies the Feds won’t know about without them doing a hell of a lot of footwork. They’ll be so overwhelmed, they’ll just have to bury prohibition.