Weekly Legislative Update 5/20/17

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director May 20, 2017

    revolutionbumperWelcome to this week’s edition of the NORML legislative roundup!

    This year, it seems that multiple states are vying for the honor of becoming the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislative process and four of them had movement this week. Ranked most-to-least likely, here is the action we saw in the last 7 days:

    Vermont: S. 22, to eliminate civil and criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults has been transmitted to Governor Phil Scott.

    If signed or simply ignored, (aka not vetoed by the Governor), the measure will legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, and the cultivation of two mature marijuana and four immature plants in a private residence beginning July 1, 2018. The Act will become law in lieu of action by the Governor Wednesday due to the procedural processes of the Vermont.

    Connecticut (tied for 2nd): Senate and House Democrats are lobbying for provisions to permit the retail sale of marijuana to adults as a way to address the state’s estimated $5 billion budget gap. The proposal would initially permit state-licensed dispensaries to sell cannabis to non-patients, and then establish regulations to oversee the establishment of commercial producers and retailers.

    The proposed plan is estimated to yield about $60 million in additional revenue for the state next fiscal year, and $180 million by 2018-19.

    Rhode Island (tied for 2nd): Members of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously advanced H. 5551 to create a study commission on May 17, but failed to call H. 5555 The Adult Use of Cannabis Act for a vote. The study bill now awaits action on the House floor while H. 5555 is likely dead for this session. Yet several lawmakers are now working on a compromise approach which would enact several provisions of legalization similar to Vermont this year and then let decisions on issues like edibles, product testing, business licensing and local opt-out be triggered by a study commission’s recommendations.

    New Jersey (distant 4th): Legislation has been introduced by State Sen. Nicholas Scutari to legalize and regulate the adult use, production, and retail sale of marijuana. Yet in his last year as Governor, Chris Christie has made it clear that he will not sign such legislation, however it does position the Garden State well to pass legalization next year as Gov. Christie is term-limited out.

    At the Federal level, in the House, Representatives  Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) have introduced The Respect States and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2017, HR 2528, which would protect states that have ended prohibition at the state level from federal interference. This bill is substantially similar to that of HR 965, the bipartisan Respect State Marijuana Laws Act introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

    Additionally, the bipartisan Senate version of the SAFE Banking Act was introduced to allow marijuana businesses access to basic banking services.

    Following are the bills from around the country 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.

    Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,

    Priority Alerts

    Respect State Marijuana Laws: On May 18, Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Diane DeGette (D-CO) introduced HR 2528, The Respect States and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2017.

    Click here to send your member of Congress a message to support the bill. 

    Bank Safely: Currently, banks face the threat of federal sanction for working with marijuana-related businesses and entrepreneurs. The SAFE Banking Act (Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act) would extend protections to banks from the federal government, thus allowing responsible businesses access to basic banking services.

    Click here to send both your Senators and Representative a message to support these measures.

    Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) earlier this year formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

    Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the Congressional Cannabis Caucus

    Senate and House Democrats are lobbying for provisions to permit the retail sale of marijuana to adults as a way to address the state’s estimated $5 billion budget gap.

    CT resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of legalization.

    Senate legislation is pending, SB 236, introduced by Sen. Tick Segerblom to regulate the social use of cannabis.

    The measure allows select businesses to apply for licensing to permit adult marijuana use on their premises. It would also allow event organizers to seek permits to allow adult use at specific events.

    Update: SB236 passed out of the Assembly Government Operations Committee on May 16.

    NV resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of marijuana social clubs.

    New Jersey
    Legislation has been introduced by State Sen. Nicholas Scutari to legalize and regulate the adult use, production, and retail sale of marijuana.

    According to a 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton poll, nearly six in ten New Jersey adults support “legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over.” Similar percentages of voters through the country also endorse legalization.

    NJ resident? Click here in support of legalization in the Garden State

    Rhode Island
    Several lawmakers are now working on a compromise approach which would enact several provisions of legalization similar to Vermont this year and then let decisions on issues like edibles, product testing, business licensing and local opt-out be triggered by a study commission’s recommendations.

    RI resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of legalization

    S. 22, to completely depenalize marijuana, was transmitted to the Governor on May 18. Governor Phil Scott has until the end of Wednesday May 24 to either sign or veto the legislation, and should he not act, the bill will go into effect by default.

    VT resident? Click here to send a message to Governor Scott in support of legalization

    Other Actions to Take

    Senate Bill 24 has been introduced by Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry to make it easier for those suffering from PTSD to obtain their medicine.


    DE resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of those with PTSD

    New York
    A pair of bills are pending in the Senate to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis.

    Senate Bill 6092 expands the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis access to include those with Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and a number of other debilitating diseases. It also removes arbitrary caps imposed on the amount of THC permitted in oral products.

    Senate Bill 6308 allows for additional cannabis providers to operate in the state in order to improve patients’ access.

    NY resident? Click here to express your support for these measures to your lawmakers.





    12 responses to “Weekly Legislative Update 5/20/17”

    1. Julian says:

      If youre from Vermont the world is counting on you to contact your governor!



      “Scott isn’t morally opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana, and he’s suggested in the past that he’d be willing to look at legalizing the drug. However, Scott has public-safety concerns about legalizing recreational weed and will want to ensure any legislation has its “I’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed.”

      Marijuana stocks are already salivating. Which is saying a lot considering the huff-n-bluff coming from Project SAM and the Drumph administration.
      And there certainly is competition on not only who the first state will be to legalize legislatively but whose full legalization will be in full effect first. Vermont is watching the delays in Massachussetts and Maine, the two runners up in Rhode Island and Connecticut, Canada to the north and the herd of demand coming from New York and Long Island from the south. The Governor would be vetoing a temporary green bonanza of revenue into the state if they can put this into effect next year.
      The motivation is money but the prize is legislatively enacted legalization. This is a big game changer in the way a Federal court decision can go. So you can slap your face with a glove Beauregard… We DEMAND satisfaction Mista Sessions!

    2. Julian says:

      Julian’s Poetic Policy Pithy

      Now the fake just got real
      And Flynn’s gonna squeel
      When Congress grants immunity
      If Trump fires Mueller
      Then throw Stein a bueller
      And hit Sessions with impunity

      Or Trump can reorder
      Reborder disorder
      The whole special councel trip
      But facing elections
      There are no protections
      Riding Trump’s sinking war ship

      No Drug war can prevail
      From the new Weed Third Rail
      Revealing Truth through the nation
      We found weed taxation
      With Representation
      We call it Legalization

      Depose or impeach him
      He’s out of his reach n
      For fuck’s sake we’ll even take Pence
      Until the leaked report
      Leaves us with no resort
      And we throw him over the Fence

      Because Trump’s bull$#!+ floats
      And James Comey took notes
      For the Minority Leaders
      From Cali to Vermont
      Weed we need, Weed we want
      Watch traitors turn to retreators

    3. Jose Valdez says:

      Julian, you’re a pathetic anti-American loser. President Trump is YOUR President. Get over it Snowflake Buttercup! Clueless lib get a clue!

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        @ Jose Valdez,
        Sir, I believe you may be a victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect, and you are suffering from a lack of ability to accurately self-assess your own level of competence.

      • Evening Bud says:


        It’s you who is anti-American. I’m sure you puff out your chest and proclaim your patriotism on a daily basis. But when a real threat to our democracy appears–in this case, an orange hued threat–you obviously sit back silently and lap up all the pablum that this “fake” president regularly regurgitates. Check your patriotism at the door, pal, you don’t even know what it means.

      • Julian says:

        Once there’s this guy named Valdez
        He dispensed more @$$ ki$$ing than Pez
        But lil did he know
        The reward for his blow
        Was his vote would get Cro$$checked
        By Prez!

        • Anonymous says:


          I liked your original poem/rap, but I think I like this one ever better, in light of the human Pez’ rant. Crosschecked, lol.

          • Julian says:

            HAHAha… Made ME Laugh. Reading his post with Dana Carvey’s voice for Garth in Wayne’s World will make you start giggling too.

    4. Hoosier St8 says:

      Soooo Indiana is planning on being the last state to make any progress on cannabis right? Like its a goal of ours.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Indiana is Pence country, and to that extent, corrupt as all hell. Save yourself! Get out now!

    5. Evening Bud says:

      I will gladly recite “Julian’s Poetic Policy Pithy” on the day Drumpenfuhrer resigns or is removed from office. Perhaps, then, Julian, you’ll whip out another:

      An Ode to Donnie T: an orange suit for an orange fella

    6. Julian says:

      Ok so here’s a report on Texas:

      As Texas advocates gather ourselves from the disappointment of a short legislative session that prioritizes revenue-killing bathroom bills over life-saving marijuana reform, some encouraging developments have happened as we approach the end of our legislative session;


      The House and Senate have passed a bill to prevent disclosure of criminal records for low level offenses on job applications in the state of Texas. This bill is supported even by Republicans and wealthy white people who are affected by these archaic laws that punish people with low level offenses (including posession of marijuana) even after they have paid their dues to society with probation, community service, fines and legal fees.

      Its not decrim or mmj but in a state overwhelmed by gerry mandering, prohibition and voter suppression we’ll take what we can get. Yesterday’s ruling on discriminatory redistricting in North Carolina fairs well with Texas which is looking at a ruling on redistricting maps this summer where blacks and latinos, who vote Democratic, were discriminated representation by white majority Republican lawmakers. This affects marijuana reform in races where marijuana-friendly Representative Beto Orourke, D-El Paso is running a close Senate race against mandatory-minimum Republican Ted Cruz.
      While I commend my state Republican Representative Jason Isaac for his leadership on marijuana reform this session, NORML’s Congressional Scorecard consistently proves Democratic candidates have a better track record on voting for marijuana reform.