Loading

Weekly Legislative Update 2/2/2018

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate February 2, 2018

    Welcome to the first NORML Legislative Roundup of 2018!

    First, I’d like to highlight a key development at the federal level pertaining to established medical marijuana businesses and consumers.

    The protections for lawful medical marijuana patients and businesses from the Department of Justice provided by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer budget amendment was temporarily extended through February 8th and we are working to ensure that it will be a part of any budget deal for the rest of the fiscal year. In the last week alone, NORML members sent thousands of messages to members of Congress and we plan to keep the pressure up. If you have not already, send a letter to your elected officials in support of extending these important protections.

    At the state level, NJ  Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order calling on state regulators to review the state’s eight-year-old medical cannabis access program, and a Virginia House bill to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis law was unanimously approved by the House floor.

    Additionally, at the state level, several marijuana-related bills are already dead for this session. These include two Virginia bills to decriminalize marijuana possession, as well as four Mississippi bills- one to decriminalize possession, two related to medical marijuana, and the last to license and regulate adult use marijuana.

    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 together we will win,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

    End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

    The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

    Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    New Mexico

    Democratic state Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino pre-filed legislation, SJR 4, to legalize, tax, and regulate adult use marijuana in New Mexico.

    Update: The Senate Rules Committee voted four to three to approve SJR 4 today. If approved by lawmakers, voters would then be asked whether they want the state to legalize marijuana on this year’s November ballot.

    NM resident? Click here to email your elected officials telling them it’s time to legalize marijuana

    Minnesota

    Legislation is pending in the House and Senate, HF 927 and SF 1320, to legalize the personal use and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for those 21 and older, and establish a licensing scheme for its commercial production and retail sale.

    MN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization

    Maryland

    Legislation is pending, SB 1027, to expand the state’s marijuana decriminalization law.

    If passed, SB 1027 would amend penalties so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense. Under current law, the possession of more than ten grams of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

    MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the decriminalization law

    Virginia

    Senator Siobhan S. Dunnavant (R-12) introduced SB 726 to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis law. Delegate Benjamin Cline (R-24) has introduced companion bill, HB 1251.

    The measures would permit doctors to recommend CBD and THC-A oils to any patient they believe would benefit. Under present law, only a neurologist may recommend cannabis oils, and only for patients with intractable epilepsy.

    Update: SB 726 has reported out of committee and is awaiting a floor vote. House Bill 1251 was approved by the House today with a vote of 98 to zero.

    VA resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to leave it up to the medical professionals

    Iowa

    Legislation is pending, SF 280 and SF 432, to amend marijuana possession penalties for first-time offenders.

    Senate File 280 and SF 432 reduce criminal penalties for possession of 5 grams of marijuana or less from a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000, to a simple misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 30 days in jail and/or a $625 fine.

    Update: SF 432 was approved on a voice vote by the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee and now awaits action on the Senate floor, and SF 280 has cleared a Republican-led subcommittee in the Senate.

    IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reducing possession penalties for first time offenders

    Additional Actions to Take

    New York

    Legislation is pending in both chambers, A. 9016 and S. 7564 to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program

    Hawaii

    Legislation is pending, HB 1893, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    Update: HB 1893 was heard by HHS yesterday in the House.

    HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana expansion

    Pennsylvania

    Democratic state Senator Anthony Williams has introduced Senate Resolution 258 to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

    If passed, this resolution would urge Congress to take action to amend federal law so that states could regulate cannabis absent undue federal interference.

    Update: A state Senate committee has unanimously approved the resolution to urge Congress to reevaluate marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I controlled substance and recognize marijuana’s medical purposes.

    PA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of descheduling marijuana from the CSA

    Arizona

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 2144, to make Arizona a so-called ‘sanctuary state’ for licensed marijuana operators.

    With US Attorney General Jeff Sessions having recently rescinded federal guidance memos protecting state-licensed, marijuana-related activity, passage of this legislation is more crucial than ever.

    If passed, this bill would prevent the state from providing federal agents with the names, addresses and/or other related information pertaining to businesses that have been issued permits to grow, distribute and sell marijuana.

    AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana protections

    Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

    26 responses to “Weekly Legislative Update 2/2/2018”

    1. Charlie S. says:

      Please provide update on the introduced Federal legislation. Urging your representatives to support a particular bill is meaningless unless they will actually get a chance to vote
      on it. Which committee(s0 is it assigned to?

      • Julian says:

        I often fall and recently have fallen for your same concern… however a letter from a voting constituent is “meaningless” and gets spammed if you are not contacting the representatives and Senators of your state and federal districts. The prescripted letters on the http://www.norml.org/act tab are designed to align us with the Reps and Senators in our district.
        Now tell that to the district around Dallas where Pete Sessions, the Keebler’s gatekeeper of Prohibition, is finally facing a Democratic challenger… and in a district won by Hillary? Interesting…

    2. Julian says:

      Thanks Carly!
      Glad to see the Updates up before midterm primaries.

      Texas:

      While the relatively short legislative session begins in January of 2019 for Texas, Primaries begin March 2nd for early voting and end March 6th. Voter Registration ends on Monday in Texas so PLEASE get those voter registration cards from the Post Office ready for that 18 year old nephew that likes to talk politics at the Superbowl but doesn’t vote. Don’t vote? Don’t complain!

      Here is Texas NORML’s new voter guide;

      https://www.texasnorml.org/votersguide/

      Theres still work to do. I couldnt even find the phone numbers for any of the Republican state Rep candidates in my district so that means we have to show up to forums and debates and ask about marijuana policy.

      I’m meeting with my Republican state representative Jason Isaac tomorrow morning who is running for federal representative and I’m meeting with Democratic Federal Representative Beto Orourke on Monday who is running to replace (God willing) Ted Cruz for the Federal Senator.

      I’m getting used to wearing a NORML tee under a matching suit. It works for some reason.

      Let’s DO this Texas! Legalize one Rep at a time.

      • Julian says:

        Good news!

        Representative Jason Isaac pledged to continue to support states rights on marijuana policy at the federal level. Looking at the math and polling from Lamar Smith’s District 21, Isaac is in the best position to replace this House seat. I was able to educate him on federal scheduling and sent him some details on NORML’s position to deschedule, not reschedule marijuana at the federal level. Jason expressed interest in attending the upcoming candidate forum hosted by Texas NORML this Wednesday at the Cantina on 6th Street.

        When all the Democrats in our districts are fighting over who is the best marijuana reformer but our Republican marijuana reforming allies are surrounded by prohibitionists or simply with misinformed candidates we need to throw our votes and support behind the Republican marijuana reformer during the primaries …even if we vote for the Democrat during the general election.

        This is how we plant the seeds to reform marijana law. Face to face with our families in a small town cafe, BEFORE we elect our candidates.

        It takes a special brand of patience and spirit to get passed the Trumpish bumper stickers and isignias to look at a Reps’ policies and record and deal with the human being, not the label. ESPECIALLY during this volatile political climate were enduring.

        What this strategy of working with both sides does is makes our worst case scenario to transition from a two-faced prohibitionist rattlesnake like Lamar Smith to a passionate Republican marijuana reformer in the House like Jason Isaac. Now THAT is what I call marijuana reform.

        Now Monday it’s off to meet with Texas Democratic candidate for Senate Beto Orourke! (I think it’s time for me to buy a new suit and NORML tee… they’re going to start noticing it’s the same one!)

    3. Julian says:

      In other news from Texas a 6-year-old with epilepsy becomes the first medical marijuana patient under the Compassionate Use Act yesterday:

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.texastribune.org/2018/02/01/six-year-old-texan-first-state-receive-medical-cannabis-oil/amp/

      And we’re still waiting for the DA’s office from Bexar County (San Antonio) to release the rules on their website for the new cite and release program. The Texas Tribune reported Wednesday that Bexar County law enforcement will issue deferred classes in stead of an arrest record, similar to what Harris County implemented in Houston under DA Kim Ogg. Prior to these counties decriminalizing, Texas arrests about 70,000 people each year for small possessions of marijuana.

    4. Contact your state representative easily here at The Marijuana Post 2018

    5. Keith says:

      GA also has bills introduced for rec. Marijuana as well.

    6. Nate says:

      What an excellent update! I live in Oregon, but am more than willing to spread the appropriate information to those less fortunate.

    7. Anonymous says:

      Three years ago there was a vote on medicalmarijuana.the people here in south Carolina voted 67% said yes they are calling it the compassionate care act but nothing has happened?
      Why is it illegal? Did they forget probation?
      What happens to life liberty the pursuit of happiness

    8. Evening Bud says:

      Clicked and sent. I think if we could put it to a vote here in NM, it’d pass, as a healthy percentage of voters here want pot legalized. Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino was the one who pushed similar legislation last year. I attempted to call his office at that time but could not find a working phone number–I’ll try again soon.

    9. Matt says:

      Good news from many states, from some, not so good. However, about time for Arizona and Pennsylvania (who else was thinking about the fame the Super Bowl win would bring either state and hopefully shed some light on said states as legalization progresses?). Good also in New Mexico, even though it is so stupid that apparently some officials STILL do not see the inevitable future and voted against it. New Mexico is still moving way too slowly, although this is good news. Minnesota, frankly, is a state which should have been on board with legalization a long time ago! Hawaii, New York, others, good news. Maryland needs to just outright legalize and look to Vermont and the others as an example of the inevitable. Arizona, too, has to realize by now they are clearly behind. Arizona is probably dying to legalize by now. Have to run, as I am still working on getting another laptop and on a family member computer right now, lol. Good to hear despite the dead bills, stay vigilant, hope Sessions and the DOJ are too distracted right now with the Nunes matter, etc. Stay vigilant every single day especially business days for Sessions, but hopefully he realizes the enormous pressure and criticism he is going to receive if he takes any further action. Perhaps he realizes that doing so would make him look like an old FOOL. Bring unwanted heat to him and the Department.

      Later, and keep on truckin’, lol. Write your Congress folks.

      All aboard…..legalization knockin’ at the door….

      M

      • Evening Bud says:

        Matt,

        Here in New Mexico it’s the same old problem: Republicans voting against legalization (along with a few conservative Dems). Our legalization problems here will be greatly alleviated when our Republican Governor, Susanna Martinez, is out of office, which she will be at the end of this year (her 8 years in office being up).

        The Democratic front-runner for Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, is far more sympathetic to our cause.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.