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Weekly Legislative Roundup 6/15/18

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate June 15, 2018

    Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    A lot has happened in Congress this week. US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) inserted hemp legalization language into the Farm Bill – must-pass legislation that is approved by Congress every five years. The bill was then approved by the US Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

    The US Senate Appropriations Committee, for the first time ever, included protections for state medical marijuana laws in Justice Department funding legislation. On the other hand, the US House Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment to protect banks that serve marijuana businesses from being punished by federal authorities.

    Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced The “RESPECT Resolution: Realizing Equitable & Sustainable Participation in Emerging Cannabis Trades” to elevate the importance of equity within the legal cannabis marketplace.

    To all of our surprise, President Donald Trump expressed verbal support for recently introduced, bi-partisan legislation that seeks to codify legal protections for state-sanctioned marijuana-related activities.

    At the state level, South Carolina voters approved a medical marijuana advisory question on the Democratic primary ballot 81% – 19%. And The Maine Supreme Court ruled that employers are not required to pay for employees’ medical marijuana under the state workers’ compensation system.

    At a more local level, the St. Louis, Missouri will no longer pursue marijuana involving less than 100 grams. And Denver, Colorado is using its marijuana tax revenue to fund after-school and summer programs.

    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.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

    Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have introduced bipartisan legislation, The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018, to remove the threat of federal intervention and prosecution in states that regulate marijuana use and sales. A bipartisan House companion bill has been introduced by Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

    This marks the first bicameral, bipartisan legislation to end the federal enforcement of prohibition in states that have reformed their marijuana laws.

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

    New Jersey

    Senate President Stephen Sweeney, along with Sen. Nicholas Scutari, introduced legislation, S2703, to legalize adult marijuana sales and further expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program.

    The legislation permits those age 21 and older to legally possess and/or purchase up to one ounce of cannabis. It also permits the licensing of 218 retail dispensaries — 120 of which would provide marijuana to adults while 98 would provide marijuana to authorized patients. At present, one half-a-dozen medical dispensaries are operating in the state.

    Other provisions in the measure seek to protect adults who consume cannabis from employer and/or housing discrimination, and permits certain retailers to establish on-site consumption areas.

    NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization and medical expansion

    Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    SB 20-62 seeks to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis in the US territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

    If passed, the bill would legalize the personal use and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for adults age 21 or older, and establish a licensing scheme for its commercial production and retail sale. The tax revenue would be used to fund the implementation of the program and other government services.

    Update: SB 20-62 was on the House’s agenda for a vote on 6/12, but was instead was referred back to the Committee on Judiciary & Government Operations.

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

    Delaware

    Legalization
    House Bill 110 seeks to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use.

    Update: An amendment to HB 110 was filed on 6/11. The wide-ranging amendment addresses packaging and labeling, safe cultivation, tracking of sales, random testing and safeguards for the consumer. Employer protections are clarified as well.

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

    Expungement
    Senate Bill 197 seeks to permit those convicted of past marijuana possession convictions to seek expungement.

    The measure would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting the expungement of any past marijuana possession violations that are no longer defined as a crime under state law.

    Update: SB 197 was unanimously passed by the Senate on 6/12.

    DE resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

    Medical
    House Bill 374 seeks to expand the state’s medical cannabis access program.

    The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis by permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from: chronic debilitating migraines, pediatric autism spectrum disorder, and pediatric sensory processing disorder.

    Update: HB 374 was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Children & Social Services Committee on 6/6.

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

    New York

    A. 9016 and S. 7564 seek to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    Update: A. 9016 came out of the Health Committee without a vote and was referred to the Rules Committee.

    NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

    California

    Expungement
    Assembly Bill 1793 seeks “to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence. The bill was approved by the Assembly last month.

    Update: AB 1793 will be heard by the Senate Public Safety Committee on 6/26 at 8:30am in Room 3191.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

    Student Protections
    Senate Bill 1127 will help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on campus to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was approved by the Senate last month.

    Update: SB 1127 was heard on 6/13 in the Assembly Education Committee, and then approved by the Committee. The bill will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on 7/4.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of administering medical cannabis to students at school

    Compassionate Care Programs
    Senate Bill 829 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions. The bill was approved by the Senate last month.

    Update: The Assembly Committee on Business and Professions is holding a hearing on SB 829 on 6/19.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of these tax exemptions

    Banking
    Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses. The bill was approved by the Senate last month.

    Update: The Assembly’s Business and Professions Committee is holding a hearing on SB 930 on 6/26 at 9am.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access

    That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

    21 responses to “Weekly Legislative Roundup 6/15/18”

    1. Dain Bramage says:

      Trump eats children.

      • Julian says:

        Noting the traditional satire of Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast,” you are indirectly correct Dain, but please keep your posts in context. Don’t let your enemies take advantage of the way you express your anger.

    2. Christopher Garcia says:

      Super

    3. Julian says:

      Thanks Carly,
      I didn’t know about the St Louis Circuit Attorney dropping prosecutions of 100 grams or less. That’s amazing! That’s like an entire chia pet of marijuana. That’s going to make the stay on the rooftop of the Moonrise Hotel a completely out of orbit experience!

      I’m just glad the DOJ and Senator Grassley got slapped into place this week with some common sense legislation. Now we really have something to celebrate this Independence Day: mmj Independence from the predatory DOJ and the Senate Judiciary committee. That’s truly getting two historic birds stoned at once:
      1). We don’t have to spell “Rohrabacher Blumenauer” anymore. (I continue spelling it out of pure cathartic relief).
      2). Hemp finally got out of the appropriate agricultural committee, which completely blinsided Senator Grassley as chair of the Judiciary and Big Pharma as well, who continues to try and outlaw CBD. Sorry patent lawyers; Kentucky wants to grow some hemp and sell their CBD too.

      When I think of the kind of people who really need pure CBD concentrates… people with heart disease or neurological disorders like schizophrenia or people suffering from internal inflammations like encephalopathy Senator Grassley should be sanctioned for trying to make CBD a schedule 1 substance. Heck, maybe a diet in CBD could treat his inflammatory cruelty?
      Just give Iowa some hemp subsidies McConnell and get this slow moving Trojan Hemp Horse over with.

      • Evening Bud says:

        The “Weekly Legislative Roundup” is always one of my favorite reads here on the NORML site. It’s invigorating to see positive movement on so many fronts!

        Regarding the issue of debating with Trump supporters, I admit I get uncomfortable with name calling, and prefer to debate the issues themselves. Still, racist or sexist comments must be called out; they have no place in 21st Century America and should’ve disappeared a century ago.

      • Evening Bud says:

        Rohrabacher Blumenauer–very German combination. I don’t know what Rohrabacher means, but I do know that “Blumen” means Flower in German–very appropriate in this case. Flower Hour perhaps, lol.

        • Julian says:

          Bud,
          I’ve always enjoyed your posts here. Like you say, you stick to the issues and have always made a genuine effort to write politely. We need that as we approach midterms and we meet with and write to our elected officials.

          By now you may have realized that the comments sections are closed from the post on Oklahoma on. Right when Canada legalizes and Executive Director Jax Finkle does a post on Texas. Lol… that’s ok. As I said on another post I realize that Lobby days are approaching. NORML is understaffed and can’t commit to editing a bunch of Trump trolls and profanities. I’ll miss posting here but honestly I’m relieved if it means dumping trolls and focusing on contacting Congressman, legislators, DA’s, campaign staff, candidates and NORML staff and chapters directly.
          I’m looking forward to my road trip to Canada in July. I’ll be meeting with NORML members on the way in St Louis and hit up headquarters on the way back down from DC. Everywhere, despite the countenance of hostile administration and an obstructionist Congress we are making progress.

          I’m thankful for the feedback I’ve received on this blog all these years and for what educated me like a free Canniversity and prepped me for debates with lawmakers. I look forward to citizen lobby during the upcoming legislative session in Texas.

          Hope things continue to go well for you in New Mexico, Bud. Hermanos en la lucha… vatos locos forever! (Lol…)

    4. Dain Bramage says:

      Trump is feeding on children, right before our eyes. He is a monster. Literally.

      • Dain Bramage says:

        It wasn’t me who first said it — if we don’t speak up and act in defense of others when the fascists come for them, as they are now, there will be nobody left to speak up when they come for us.

        Trump and Sessions are coming for us, don’t kid yourself. When the crackdown happens, will you really be shocked? “Tell me true.”

        • Evening Bud says:

          Dain,

          I wholeheartedly agree. Nazi behavior must always be called out. If Drumpf is acting like a Fuhrer wannabe, he must be exposed.

    5. ancient james says:

      Reading through all the liberating political actions described leaves the clear understanding that anyone who continues to attack fellow citizens over Cannabis is tragically becoming even more lost and more alone.
      Tolerance and empathy are the way to wholeness, to unity.

    6. Julian says:

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2018/06/17/texas-republican-party-endorses-marijuana-decriminalization/#305342ac5236

      I’ve been hearing Exec. Dir. of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy Heather Fazio say for more than a week now that decrim and reschedule were on the Republican Platform for a vote but it’s nice to seem them passed with some coverage by Tom Angell.

      Fazio laments that “although we would prefer to deschedule,” mj this is still a positive development. Especially for a state without voter initiatives.

      There’s a lot of money at play and some deep campaign fights in Texas over mj policy.

      A failed amendment to keep hemp from being “used for consumption” tells us where the hemp market is about to explode. Subsidies for corn and soy have kept these products industrially present in our food supply from corn syrup to soy based oils. These industries live and die off their subsidies, but there’s no crop insurance when there isn’t enough rain to even declare a loss on corn. It’s drizzling very lightly here in Central Texas where we haven’t had any measurable rain in more than a month.

      As a drought resistant crop, hemp puts nitrogen back into the soil when rotated with corn crops. Feeding the roots and stems to pigs and cattle produces %40 leaner beef and pork. This cuts notably into Koch Industries profits from their synthetic petrol fertilizers, but after a trade war from the Trump administration demand for US soy, corn and beef is anout to decline sharply. With McConnell pushing a hemp bill through the Farm Bill it would be political suicide for Republicans not to support hemp legalization.

      (continued…)

      • mexweed says:

        Subsidies for corn and soy supporting the dietary regime of junk foods designed to make Americans fat and sick so big pHARMa will make maximum money peddling real drugs.
        .
        The big gulp lie: “Corn syrup”, “High fructose corn syrup” etc. are just some of the pseudonyms posted in ingredients lists so smart children learning to read won’t see the word “SUGAR”. Whether an ingredient was a gas, a syrup or a solid is irrelevant, the important issue is what percent of the product is sugar.
        .
        Check out Dr. Scott Olson, author of the book “Sugarettes”, who estimates that sugar worldwide contributes importantly to 15,000,000 deaths yearly, compared with 6,000,000 for $iggerettes and 2,500,000 for alcohol (WHO 2011 estimate).
        .
        Beer containers are required to list a PERCENTAGE of alcohol in the product, wouldn’t it be logical that all food products, alongside the “nutrition facts” and “ingredients” lists, post a single big-print percentage figure for SUGAR in the product as delivered at point of sale?
        .
        Message to those who consider themselves victims of cannabis-inspired munchies– 1. Abstain from anything but water for the first 129 minutes after a toke (supremely inspired work time), and (2) read up on sugar. And thanks to @Julian for giving the real drugtrumpers some advocacy to be royally scared of.

        • Julian says:

          Thanks Mexweed but you don’t have to thank me. Trump and his supporters are truly their own worst enemies. And the GOP and their corporate doners were already fractured before they decided to back Trump and his anti-farming, anti-American policies. But then the big money wanted their tax cuts, even at the expense of a useful idiot. Was it worth it? Remains to be seen…

    7. Julian says:

      As for mmj, we have Ted Cruz only defending states rights while Beto Orourke is all about ending the drug war and full legalization all together.

      And in District 32 which includes an exploding Dallas County population the Green Goblin and prohibitionist Chair of the Rules Committee Pete Sessions, R-TX is in a toss up against Democrat Collin Allred who supports mmj.

      Let’s not think that just because these items are on the Texas R’s platform that it’s smooth, decriminalized mmj and hemp sailing… Texas has one of the shortest legislative sessions in the US, lasting about 5 months every two years starting in January. We have to have these bills written and ready BEFORE that time so they make it out of their respective committees. And we need to vote people in the legislature who support our cause:
      http://www.texasnorml.org/voterguide

      Citizen lobby. It’s more than a hobby.

    8. Julian says:

      There has been alot of media attention on the plight of separated families seeking asylum at the border, and I would like to take some time to address their proper title, status and connection to ending marijuana prohibition through a letter I sent to Beto Orourke and his campaign who organized the protest at the child tent camps in Tornillo Texas yesterday on Father’s Day.

      Here is what I wrote:

      Thank you Team Beto,

      What you did in Tornillo is the beginning of a powerful message for our campaign and our nation.

      Beto, you know me as a member of Texas NORML and an advocate for drug reform. Since meeting you at a fund raiser in Austin I have now become a Democratic precinct captain in my county and volunteered to be an election judge for November elections. But out of any topic I am passionate about, whether its marijuana and criminal justice reform or seeing Democrats take back our country during midterms from a despotic coup, the way that corporate media is branding these children hits a nerve.

      You mentioned the injustice of calling children “unaccompanied minors” when they are being forcefully and deceivingly separated by their parents. We hear stories about how some agents are lying to parents that their children will be given a “bath,” only to never be seen or heard from again. Then both children and parents’ detainment are used as extortion to deny rightful asylum. Even more shamefully, the Trump administration blames Democrats for these policies he ordered through the Department of Justice… the same Department that proliferates the drug war in the central american countries in question and topples Democratically elected leaders leaving Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in perpetual civil wars.

      (continued…)

    9. Julian says:

      We need to call these parents and children what they are… Drug War Refugees… fleeing violence OUR made to fail drug laws and foreign policies created. That may not be the narrative that Trump or Cruz supporters want us to hear, but asylum laws and the 14th amendment Constitutionally protect “any person” on US soil with equal protection under the law. And yet these children, these drug war refugees who are forced to testify against their parents in state-sanctioned terror don’t even get a court appointed immigration lawyer in an immigration court. How is a 4-year-old supposed to defend their position of asylum to a Judge without due process?

      They can’t.

      And that is why we have to use the term Drug War Refugees. Because the most evil thing this administration… and an accomplice of Republicans in Congress… has done is not only blame Democrats but the victims themselves of a black market our DOJ enforces and creates through the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and through UN Drug Conventions.

      Call them what they are. Make them say it with you… Drug… War…Refugees… And let’s not allow corporate media to empower another fascist state by calling them anything else.

      Que Dios les bendiga.
      Padres en la lucha,

      Julian
      Precinct Captain 303-304
      Texas NORML

      P.S.
      See you in J.C. in August!

      • Evening Bud says:

        Viva el Capitan!

        Hermanos & hermanas por la causa!

        El Capitan, for favor dame el cigarrillo de marihuana (la cucaracha), lol.

        Or, as we like to say here in Albuquerque, “Please pass the leno” (and I don’t mean the Jay Leno).

    10. Dain Bramage says:

      Some question whether marijuana users are “good people.”

      The truth is, some are, and some are not.

      Those who oppose child snatching are good people. Those who like it are not good people.

      • ancient james says:

        Your reference to Jeff Sessions is well crafted. When he was quoted as saying that pot smokers are not good people, I had to disagree because the ones I know are – by and large – the best of us. We don’t condone such talk, that sort of repression and belittlement, but we can forgive it, “for they know not what they do”.

      • Evening Bud says:

        Very good point, Dain.

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