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NORML Blog

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 20, 2020

    New Hampshire House lawmakers today approved legislation, House Bill 1648, eliminating criminal and civil penalties for activities involving possession and home cultivation of personal use quantities of cannabis.

    Legislators passed the bill by a veto-proof majority, voting 236 to 112 in favor of it. The legislation now awaits action by the Senate.

    The measure legalizes the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana by those age 21 or older. It also allows for adults to home cultivate up to three mature marijuana pants and/or to possess up to five grams of hashish, and up to 300mg of cannabis-infused products.

    If advanced by the Senate, the measure is likely to face resistance from Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who has previously said that he will “absolutely” veto any legalization legislation, “regardless of what the language looks like.”

    Last session, the Governor vetoed legislation, House Bill 364, which sought to allow patients registered in the state’s medical cannabis access program the option to home-cultivate up to three cannabis plants. In his veto message, he opined that allowing patients to grow their own medical cannabis would “make the job of law enforcement significantly more difficult,” and also suggested that it might reduce the number of patients soliciting the state’s dispensaries.

  • by NORML February 19, 2020

    Jobs in the state-licensed cannabis industry rose 15 percent during the past 12 months, and the industry now employs over 243,000 full-time workers, according to data compiled by Leafly.com.

    Commenting on the jobs data, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said: “The legal cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing employment sectors in America in spite of the challenges it faces due to marijuana’s federal criminal classification. These new numbers only further underscore the need to end prohibition and allow the state programs to operate as intended.”

    Cannabis job growth chart
    According to its 2020 report, the regulated cannabis industry added 33,700 new jobs over the past year. States adding the greater number of new cannabis-related jobs were Massachusetts (10,266 jobs) and Oklahoma (7,300 jobs). Overall, the total number of full-time jobs in the licensed cannabis industry has doubled since 2017.

    “The refusal [of the federal government] to acknowledge the existence of legal cannabis jobs is a powerful act of shaming and stigmatization,” the report concludes. “There are now nearly a quarter of a million Americans whose professional lives are categorized as [either] illegal or nonexistent by the government of the United States. … If cannabis industry jobs were tallied like other jobs, … legal cannabis would be acknowledged as the fastest growing industry in America.”

    Full text of the study, “Leafly Jobs Report 2020,” appears online here. Additional information is available in the NORML fact-sheet, ‘Marijuana Regulation: Impact on Health, Safety, Economy.’

  • by NORML February 18, 2020

    It’s been three years and counting but President Trump is once again threatening to derail the progress we’ve made in reforming marijuana laws across this country. The latest offense is his recently released 2021 federal budget proposes slashing all legal protection for state medical marijuana programs and potentially jeopardizing the patients that rely on them.

    Because cannabis is still illegal under federal law, the DEA and other federal law enforcement would be able to use federal funds to shut down medical marijuana programs. We’ve largely been able to include an amendment to the annual federal budget that would prevent the Department of Justice to utilize any of their funds to go after medical marijuana programs, their compliant operators, and the patients that depend on those programs, but this new budget proposal puts all of that at risk.

    Sign our petition to demand Congress protect state-legal medical marijuana programs.

    We all know that patients are not criminals and that marijuana indisputably has medical value when it comes to treating a wide range of ailments, but Trump’s proposed federal budget would reprioritize law enforcement and prosecutors to target medical marijuana at the state level. 

    Despite Trump mentioning during his campaign that he supported medical marijuana and a general states rights approach to cannabis policy, his presidency has consistently proven these words to ring hollow. 

    Sign our petition, and make it crystal clear to our representatives that if they support this budget, we will not support them. 

    The data speaks for itself. It is not an alternative fact that medical marijuana has been proven to provide important benefits. No patient should have to worry about losing access to cannabis treatment options. 

    Thanks for being in the fight with us,

    NORML

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator February 15, 2020

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

    The legalization effort in New Mexico was killed as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-4 to table the bill this week.

    New Approach Montana, the campaign committee behind a marijuana legalization ballot initiative in the state, submitted a revised proposal to the Secretary of State’s office, removing provisions that address medical marijuana law changes.

    One of two initiative petitions to put marijuana legalization on the ballot in Oklahoma was cleared for signature gathering.

    Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas said he will begin pardoning those who have received municipal violations for marijuana possession and those non-violent offenders who were convicted for having marijuana drug paraphernalia.

    Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress.

    Your Highness,

    Carly

    Actions to Take

    Federal

    The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act (HR 3884 / S. 2227) is bipartisan legislation that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own policies.

    Send a message to your representatives in support of ending the federal prohibition on marijuana

    Alabama

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 165, to establish a medical marijuana access program for qualified patients with a physician’s recommendation to access medical marijuana from licensed retail outlets.

    It would not allow patients to smoke herbal marijuana or vape, but would allow forms including pills, oils, lozenges and patches. 

    Update: SB 165 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 8:30am on 2/19/20 in Committee Room 325.

    AL resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of medical marijuana access

    Arizona

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 2638, that would create an official policy for “deflection programs,” police protocols that allow officers to not arrest individuals for various minor offenses, including incidental marijuana possession—cannabis that turns up while a suspect is being searched for a different offense.

    AZ resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of ending arrests

    Hawaii

    Senate Bill 2543 would prohibit an employer from discriminating against a person in hiring, termination, or condition of employment based on the person’s status as a medical cannabis cardholder or a positive drug test for THC.

    Update: SB 2543 was approved by the Senate Committee on Labor, Culture and the Arts on 2/11/20.

    HI resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of employment protections

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2787, to regulate medical cannabis delivery services.

    The bill allows the department of health to issue permits to medical cannabis dispensaries for the delivery of medical cannabis and cannabis products to qualifying patients or primary caregivers if certain conditions are met.

    Update: SB 2787 was approved by the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health Committee on 2/13/20.

    HI resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of delivery services

    Illinois

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 4706, to regulate public on-site marijuana consumption for adults.

    The bill would allow counties and municipalities to issue licenses to businesses to permit the consumption of cannabis on the business’ premises.

    IL resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of on-site consumption

    Kentucky

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 136, to permit physicians to authorize access to medical cannabis for any patient whom they believe would benefit from its therapeutic use.

    Update: HB 136 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 2/12/20.

    KY resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

    Maryland

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 550, to expand the state’s marijuana decriminalization law.

    If passed, the bill would amend penalties so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense, rather than the current threshold of ten grams.

    Update: HB 550 was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on 2/11/20.

    MD resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of expanded decriminalization

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 331 / Senate Bill 605, to allow registered medical cannabis patients to access their medicine while at school.

    The bill requires the Department of Education and the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission jointly to develop guidelines for public schools regarding the administration of medical cannabis to certain students during school hours and school-sponsored after-school activities.

    House Bill 617 / Senate Bill 604 would also develop guidelines for public schools regarding the administration of medical cannabis to students

    Update: SB 604 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on 2/18/20 at 12pm. HB 331 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Health and Government Operations on 2/19/20 at 1pm.

    MD resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access in schools

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 179, to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of medical cannabis patients in Maryland.

    The measure prohibits a person from being denied the right to purchase, possess, or carry a firearm solely on the basis that the person is authorized to use medical cannabis.

    Update: SB 179 was approved by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on 2/10/20, and was then approved unanimously by the Senate on 2/14.

    MD resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of 2nd amendment protections

    New Hampshire

    House Bill 1150 would establish reciprocity, which would allow qualifying patients from out-of-state to purchase medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries in New Hampshire.

    Update: HB 1150 is scheduled for an executive session in the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on 2/18/20 at 1pm.

    NH resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of reciprocity

    Virginia

    House Bill 972 is pending, reducing penalties for offenses involving the possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana to a civil violation — punishable by a maximum $25 fine, no arrest, and no criminal record.

    Similar legislation, SB 2, is pending in the Senate.

    Update: HB 972 was approved by the House by a 64-34 vote on 2/10/20. SB 2 was approved by the Senate.

    VA resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 608, to allow those with certain past cannabis convictions to get their records cleared.

    The measure would allow those convicted of a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony offense to petition the court to expunge their record if at least eight years has passed and the individual has no other convictions on their record.

    Update: SB 608 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 2/10/20.

    VA resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of expungement

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1015, to transform Virginia’s medical cannabis from an affirmative defense to prosecution to a permanent state-legal regulatory program.

    Update: SB 1015 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 2/10/20.

    VA resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

    Vermont

    Lawmakers are considering senate-approved legislation, S. 54, to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

    Update: S.54 was heard by the House Ways and Means and Appropriations Committees this week.

    VT resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of retail sales

    West Virginia

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 752, to expand access to medical marijuana in West Virginia.

    The bill would:

    • Permit regulators to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states to allow out-of-state patients to use and transport medical marijuana while visiting West Virginia;
    • Allow physicians to authorize compassion certificates which would allow a patient or caregiver to  grow up to 12 mature flowering cannabis plants and up to 12 cannabis seedlings at any one time;
    • Increase the geographic locations of dispensaries and the forms of acceptable medical cannabis;
    • Allow accredited colleges, universities, or medical schools to be eligible to participate in marijuana research

    Update: SB 752 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 2/17/20 at 3pm.

    WV resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 12, 2020

    House and Senate lawmakers have passed legislation decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.

    House Bill 972, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 64 to 34, reduces penalties for offenses involving the possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana to a civil violation – punishable by a maximum $25 fine, no arrest, and no criminal record. Senate Bill 2, which passed the Senate by a vote of 27 to 13, reduces penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a $50 fine. It is anticipated that the two competing bills will be reconciled in conference committee.

    Under current law, minor marijuana possession offenses are classified as criminal misdemeanors, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a criminal record, and the possible loss of driving privileges.

    According to data from the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, more than 15,000 people were convicted for a first or second marijuana possession offense from July 2018 to June 2019.

    Both the Governor and the Attorney General are on record in favor of decriminalization.

    Senate lawmakers also passed separate legislation on Tuesday, SB 1015, by a unanimous vote. The measure states that no person may be arrested, prosecuted, or denied any right or privilege for participating in the state’s medical cannabis oil program. The program is expected to be operational and dispensing cannabis products to authorized patients by mid-year.

    Commenting on the legislative activity, NORML Development Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as the Executive Director of Virginia NORML, said: “This week, both the House and Senate voted in favor of decriminalizing personal possession of marijuana, and the Senate voted unanimously to legalize participation in Virginia’s medical cannabis program. Long overdue progress is finally being made in the General Assembly thanks to many years of dedicated advocacy by Virginia NORML members.”

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