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Advocacy

  • 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 11, 2020

    2019 was a record year for marijuana reform, with more NORML chapters holding lobby days than ever before. With the 2020 legislative session already in full swing in many states, NORML chapters across the country are organizing lobby days to advocate for sensible reform policies in their state. Here’s what’s been scheduled so far, past and future (This post is constantly being updated in real time as more information becomes available):

    Virginia 2020 Cannabis Lobby Day

    On January 13, Virginia NORML, along with eight more regional NORML chapters will lobby state lawmakers in Richmond in support of decriminalizing minor marijuana possession. Please sign up in advance if you plan to attend! Meetings will begin at 9am.

    Delaware Citizens’ Cannabis Lobby Day XXV

    On January 16, join Delaware NORML at 10:30am at the 2nd Floor Senate Hearing Room – Legislative Hall in Dover. We need the 61% of Delawareans who support legalization to stand with us to end cannabis prohibition in the 1st State. Delaware doesn’t have voter initiative like the other states, so citizen lobbying is the ONLY way to legalize cannabis in Delaware.

    Florida NORML Lobby Days

    On January 16, Florida NORML chapters will head to Tallahassee (Florida Capitol, Third Floor Rotunda) to lobby for marijuana legalization to include home cultivation, cafes, cultivation centers, and fair and equitable business entrance fees. Reciprocity and expansion of the medical marijuana program are also priorities for 2020.

    NORML Women of WA 4th Annual Lobby Day

    on January 20, Join NORML Women of Washington for our 4th Annual Lobby Day, at the State Capitol in Olympia at 9am. Meet up with amazing, passionate women from across the state and engage directly in democracy. Please sign up in advance so your meetings can be scheduled for you.

    KY4MM & KY NORML 2020 Lobby Days

    On January 22 and 23, join Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana and Kentucky NORML members at our Cannabis Lobby Days in Frankfort, KY to advocate for our comprehensive cannabis reform and forge a unified front with the to show the legislators there that action on reform must take place.

    During KY4MM and KY NORML Cannabis Lobby Days, members, advocates, patients, veterans, the sick and the healthy from across our Commonwealth descend on Kentucky’s Capitol to tell their stories and advocate for much needed reforms. Never been a citizen lobbyist before? We make it easy by offering training sessions before the event and on-site.

    2020 #MarijuanaJustice Lobby Days

    On January 28, The Start SMART New York Campaign, which includes several NORML chapters across the state, will host the first of a number of lobby days before the budget vote in Albany. Please save the following dates if you want to join the campaign up in Albany: February 12th, March 24th.

    Maryland Cannabis Policy Lobby Day

    On February 4, join Maryland NORML in Annapolis to lobby for cannabis legalization in Annapolis! Other priorities include expanding the decriminalization threshold and allowing medical cannabis access for patients at school.

    We STILL have work to do in Springfield – Lobby Day 2020

    On February 4, join Chicago NORML in Springfield to expand upon the tremendous gains from cannabis legalization in Illinois. The bus to Springfield leaves Chicago at approximately 6am and will return at 7pm. Lunch is included. Save your seat now!

    Patients First: Rallying to Fix Medical Marijuana in PA

    On February 5, Lehigh Valley NORML’s fourth MMJ Patients’ Rights Protest will take place in Harrisburg. For this protest we will assemble inside the Capitol Rotunda for a Rally and Lobbying efforts. This will be the next effort, fighting for patients’ rights. They intend to introduce the Patients’ Bill of Rights, and its Legislative supporters.

    Lobby Day HB 1089 Employee Lawful Off-duty Activity

    On February 19, join Colorado NORML in lobbing for a bill to prohibit an employer from terminating an employee for the employee’s lawful off-duty activities that are lawful under state law even if those activities are not lawful under federal law, such as cannabis consumption.

    Memphis NORML Lobby Day

    On February 25, join Memphis NORML in Nashville to lobby for sensible marijuana reform in Tennessee. Let your lawmakers know its time to #FreeThePlant and let us have our medicine! We will be standing outside with signs, as well as, making meetings with our representatives.

    Missouri NORML Lobby Day

    On February 26, join Missouri NORML in Jefferson City at 11:00 AM, in a room in the Capitol (to be determined). We will be briefed on pending bills & meet with some legislators. We will lobby until 3:00 PM. We will meet afterwards at Arri’s Pizza, across the street, shortly after 3:00 PM to review our work & eat/drink.

    Wyoming NORML Lobby Day 2020

    On February 28, join Wyoming NORML in showing support for cannabis law reform by meeting your representatives in Cheyenne at the newly remodeled capitol building!

    Delaware Citizens’ Cannabis Lobby Day XXVI

    On March 17, join Delaware NORML to help legalize cannabis for all adults 21 and older. Orientation begins at 10:30am at Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave. Dover, Delaware 19901.

    Cal NORML / ASA Lobby Day

    On May 4, California NORML chapters, along with Americans for Safe Access will lobby for cannabis reform at the Capitol Event Center in Sacramento.

    This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

  • by Empire State NORML February 6, 2020

    Governor Andrew Cuomo has included a plan to “regulate, restrict, and control” the responsible adult use of cannabis in New York, known as the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (“CRTA”). A complex and comprehensive plan laid out in over 200 pages of legislative text, the CRTA would implement one of the most tightly regulated, highly taxed and heavily controlled legal cannabis markets in the world.

    Under the CRTA, adults possessing any amount of untaxed “illicit cannabis” are guilty of an automatic misdemeanor. Adults patronizing the adult-use market will be able to buy (per day) and possess (at any time) up to one ounce of flower and five grams of concentrated cannabis. Possession of over 2oz and 10 grams will still be a misdemeanor criminal offense.

    The plan would create an Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) that would be composed of a 5 member board and an executive director, all of whom are Governor appointees without any legislative oversight. The office is given a vast amount of power and leeway to dictate what this industry will look like in practice, from what forms will be available to the consumer, to what license will be available to applicants and what the potency of products can be.

    The CRTA transfers authority over the Medical Cannabis Program from the Department of Health to the OCM, and in process overhauls some aspects of the program. The explicit language barring patients from “smoking” would be removed. Patients and their caregivers could also apply for a permit to cultivate and process their own cannabis for their own personal medicinal use, with undetermined restrictions to be left to regulations put forth by the OCM. Medical home cultivation patients would be subject to registration requirements as well as warrantless searches by the authorities.

    This new OCM also would assume authority of the Hemp & CBD industry in New York while making big changes in this sector of the cannabis industry as well. It will put a stop to the proliferation of so-called “gas station CBD stores” by requiring all CBD vendors to apply for retail licensing and subject themselves to the lengthy application process and undetermined regulations/restrictions to be promulgated by the OCM.

    One of the better aspects of this legislation is the explicit ban on vertical integration of the “adult-use” industry for all market participants, aside from those businesses licensed as a cooperative and currently vertically integrated registered organizations. It also creates on-site consumption licenses for retail facilities to apply for. A framework for an ambitious social and economic equity program aimed to right the wrongs of the war on drugs is partially laid out in the CRTA. Those who would qualify would be eligible for some or all of the following benefits: Prioritized and expedited license approval; Deferred of Reduced application fees; Among the first licences to operate; Priority market access in certain areas affected by the war on drugs; Access to low and 0% interest loans; Access to the “Incubator program”; and for those who aren’t applicants, they’ll be eligible for workforce development and hiring programs.

    The CRTA also proposes one of the highest tax rates in the country on cannabis, with the product being taxed during each step of the manufacturing process, combined with the local, sales and excise taxes, the overall rate is well in excess of 40%; in some cases it could be as high as 60%. This weight based multi-tiered tax is not only detrimental to enticing the consumer into buying the product, but it also stands to ruin the industry completely in the event of a massive price drop as seen in other states.

    The Executive and Legislative chambers now must deliberate the proposal over the coming months, with multiple revisions expected to be published between now and April 1st when the budget is due. There is still a chance that sensible and responsible recommendations can improve this plan.

    Send a message to the Governor and your lawmakers asking them to support amending this piece of legislation and urge them to make a market that isn’t built to fail.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator February 1, 2020

    Marijuana Laws and CongressWelcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    This week, advocates in Missouri began collecting signatures to qualify a marijuana legalization initiative for the November 2020 ballot.

    City council members in Cleveland, Ohio approved an ordinance by a 15-2 vote to remove jail time for up to 200 grams of marijuana possession. It was signed into law by the mayor a few days later.

    City council members in Berkeley, California voted to approve a proposal to allow marijuana consumption spaces

    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

    Chairman’s bill: 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 the MORE Act now

    Delaware

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 243, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The measure would permit patients to grow up to six mature plants and six immature plants.

    Update: HB 243 was scheduled for public hearing in the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee on 1/29, but it was removed from the agenda due to lack of support to pass it out of committee.

    DE resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of home cultivation rights

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 170, to expand access to medical cannabis in Delaware.

    The bill creates a CBD-rich medical marijuana card so that physicians can recommend medical marijuana to treat anxiety in adults.

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

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 79, to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of medical cannabis patients in Delaware.

    The measure clarifies existing law that would ensure medical cannabis patients are not disqualified from possessing or purchasing a firearm solely due to their patient status under the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act.

    Update: SB 79 was approved by the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee on 1/29/20. Next, it heads to the floor for a vote.

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

    Florida

    Senate Bill 684 / House Bill 565 amends the provision that only allows individuals to expunge a single conviction record every 10 years by granting immediate eligibility to those that have had convictions expunged when they were minors.

    Update: HB 565 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on 2/3/20 at 2pm.

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

    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 heard by the Senate Labor, Culture and the Arts Committee on 1/30/20. The bill was deferred.

    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 Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health on 1/31/20.

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

    Legislation is pending, HB 583 / SB 527, which would authorize licensed medical cannabis facilities to sell edible products.

    Update: HB 583 was heard by the House Health Committee on 1/28/20.

    HI resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of edible medical cannabis products

    Maryland

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 83, to automatically expunge certain prior cannabis convictions.

    The bill would require all court records and police records relating to certain charges of possession of marijuana to be automatically expunged if the possession charge is the only charge in the case. If marijuana possession was not the only charge, one must wait four years before becoming eligible for automatic expungement.

    Update: HB 83 was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on 1/28/20.

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

    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 is scheduled for a public hearing 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, 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.

    Update: HB 331 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee on 2/5/2020 at 2pm.

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

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1648, to remove all criminal and civil penalties for the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana by adults.

    The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to 3/4 ounce of marijuana and to grow up to six marijuana plants (up to three mature, three immature).

    Update: HB 1648 was approved by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on 1/28/20.

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

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 420, permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    The measure would permit patients to grow up to three mature plants and 12 seedlings, and to possess up to eight ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

    Update: SB 420 was approved by the Health and Human Services Committee on 1/30/20.

    NH resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of home cultivation rights

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1663, to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

    The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants (up to 3 can be mature).

    Update: HB 1663 was scheduled for a public hearing and executive session in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on 2/5/20, but it was cancelled.

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

    House Bill 1543, “prohibits an employer from using a failed drug test for cannabis use as grounds for terminating the employment of, or to deny promotion to any employee.”

    Update: HB 1543 is scheduled for a vote in the Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee on 2/5/20 at 1:30pm.

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

    House Bill 1386 “prohibits an employer from firing an employee solely because the employee has a positive drug test for cannabis if the employee is a qualified patient.”

    Update: HB 1386 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee at 10:00am on 2/5/20 in Legislative Office Building 307.

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

    New Mexico

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 115 / House Bill 160, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.

    The bill includes provisions for the automatic expungement of prior possession convictions, as well as provisions decriminalizing the home cultivation of up to three mature and six immature plants.

    Update: SB 115 was approved by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 1/28/20.

    NM resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of legalization

    Tennessee

    Legislation is pending, HB 883/SB 686, to allow individuals convicted of certain cannabis-related offenses, upon the completion of their sentence, to petition the court to have their records sealed.

    Update: HB 883 was heard in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee at 12pm on 1/28/20 in House Hearing Room III.

    TN resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of record sealing

    Virginia

    For the first time in recent history, there is a clear pathway to advance a decriminalization bill, Senate Bill 2, to the desk of Governor Northam, an issue which is a top priority for him in the 2020 General Assembly.

    Update: SB 2 was approved by the Judiciary Committee by a 10-3 vote on 1/29/20.

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

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 32, 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: HB 32 was approved by the House Courts of Justice Committee on 1/31/20.

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

    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 unanimously approved by a House committee on 1/31/20.

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

    Washington

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 2740, to protect marijuana consumers from employment discrimination.

    The bill would prohibit employers from refusing to hire an individual solely because they use marijuana off the job or test positive for THC on a drug test.

    Update: HB 2740 was heard in the House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards on 1/28/20, and is scheduled for executive session in the same committee at 3:30pm on 2/4/20.

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

    Legislation is pending in the House and Senate, HB 1131 / SB 5155, “Allowing residential marijuana agriculture.”

    This bill allows adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home.

    Update: HB 1131 is scheduled for afor public hearing in the House Committee on Appropriations at 3:30pm on 2/5/20

    WA resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of home cultivation rights

  • by Matthew Bratcher, Executive Director, KY NORML January 31, 2020

    Proponents of cannabis reform in Kentucky had an opportunity to have their voices heard at the legislative level on January 22nd and 23rd.

    Advocacy groups including Kentucky’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (KY NORML), Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana (KY4MM) and Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC) organized advocacy day activities in Frankfort.

    Kentuckians throughout the commonwealth traveled to the Capitol Annex to participate in meetings with more than 80 legislators in an attempt to persuade lawmakers to vote to pass medical cannabis legislation as proposed in House Bill 136 sponsored by state Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, or as the emerging trend is becoming with Kentucky’s legislators, thanking them for their support.

    “It’s time in Kentucky for people who will be helped by medical marijuana to have access to it,” Nemes said in a recent interview. “It allows physicians if they think their patients will benefit from medical marijuana, to make a recommendation to the patient so they can get it.”

    “Out of state lobbyists are certainly trying to influence medical cannabis legislation in their favor and not in the interests of our patients here in Kentucky. Citizens need to let their lawmakers know how they feel about these issues. Organizing events like these helps get the people in front of their legislators so they can hear their opinions. They are there to represent their constituents, after all. That’s why it is so vital that our citizens, activists, and patients show a united front and let their voices be heard on HB136 as well as the other cannabis bills in Frankfort.” said KY NORML Executive Director Matthew Bratcher.

    Bratcher recommends advocates who visit or have a call with their legislators to be polite and respectful regardless of differing political opinions between constituents and elected officials.

    During the 2020 Advocacy Days, KY NORML hosted The Real Cannabus, operated by Enlighten, a Bowling Green-based cannabis technology company. The bus is a state-of-the-art rolling dispensary showroom meant to showcase Enlighten’s high-tech line of dispensary products, as well as educate people on the safety and regulations enacted in a regulated cannabis market. Lawmakers were encouraged to take a private tour of the Cannabus to experience it firsthand, and many took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the industry as well as safety protocols that are implemented in other states to prevent diversion.

    At the conclusion of Advocacy Days, KY NORML, KY4MM, and KCFC hosted a networking event at All Things Hemp, a CBD Health and Wellness store located in downtown Frankfort. The networking event included discussions about what was learned during Advocacy Days, the next steps for medical cannabis legalization, a summary of other upcoming cannabis-related legislation, and a path forward for cannabis reform.

    Over the course of the two-day lobbying effort and the following days, Sen. Steve West, D- Paris, introduced the companion bill to HB136, Senate Bill 107. Sen. West was joined by 10 of his colleagues in the Senate in co-sponsoring the bill. SB107 was then sent to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, mirroring the path of HB136 through the House. Momentum in the House of Representatives has kept going, with House Bill 136 gathering 45 sponsors, consisting of almost half of its chamber’s members.

    KY NORML encourages Kentuckians who support medical cannabis reform to fill out to write your legislator or to call the legislative hotline at 1-800-372-7181. Callers must provide their name and zip code and are able to leave a message for lawmakers in support of medical cannabis reform and any other cannabis-related issue such as cannabis decriminalization in this legislative session.

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