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Advocacy

  • by Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Roc NORML October 9, 2018

    A listening session was held Thursday evening in Rochester, New York to get feedback about what the community wants to see in the legislation currently being drafted to legalize cannabis for adult use in NY. See the full list of listening sessions happening state-wide here.

    The legislation being drafted is set to pass next April with the budget, and there were many issues from both sides brought up during the session. Overall, the consensus in the room seemed in line with the polling of the state; most people in the room were in favor of legalizing for adult use, while a considerable amount of people are still opposed to the topic due to a mere lack of education.

    Mary Kruger, Executive Director of Roc NORML, the Rochester, NY chapter of the National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws, shown in this interview, testified during the session to advocate that restorative justice be on the forefront of the legislation, including: sealing of records and resentencing for low-level marijuana possession related offenses, developing a diverse and inclusive industry with priority licensing that promotes small business growth, and community reinvestment grants.

    The police chief shown in the interview also testified during the session, on behalf of the Monroe County Association Chiefs of Police, in which they indicated their opposition to legalizing cannabis for adult use because “we don’t need another drug on the street.”

    The work group drafting the legislation is taking public comments on this initiative until the end of October at the email address listed below. In your email, make sure to include the following before your testimony:

    Session Location: Rochester

    Organization: As applicable and/or Roc NORML

    Your Name, Address, Phone Number, and Email

    Send emails to rmls@health.ny.gov with the subject line “NYS Regulated Marijuana Listening Session Comment”, or  click here to fill out your contact information and send testimony instantly.

    Roc NORML will also be holding their October Monthly Meeting at which a summary of the session will be provided and volunteers will be available to help the community submit their own testimonies. Keep an eye on your inbox for more details coming soon, or click here to sign up for Roc NORML’s mailing list.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate October 5, 2018

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

    Three U.S. House bills gained new cosponsors this week. One to shield federal employees from being fired for state-legal marijuana (Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act) use got two new cosponsors, for a total of seven. The one to respect state medical cannabis laws (CARERS Act) got one new cosponsor, for a total of 28. And another to require the licensing of more cannabis cultivators for research (Medical Cannabis Research Act) got one new cosponsor, for a total of 43.

    At the state level, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill into law facilitating the review and expungement of hundreds of thousands of past marijuana convictions.

    But he vetoed bills that would have allowed schools to adopt policies for parents to administer medical cannabis to students, let businesses give away free medical cannabis, and allowed safe injection facilities for illegal drugs.

    Michigan lawmakers sent Gov. Rick Snyder (R) a bill to ban marijuana-infused alcoholic beverages. Separately, the House Agriculture Committee is considering an industrial hemp bill.

    Utah medical cannabis supporters have reached an agreement with opponents on compromise legislation, which they expect to be considered during a special session in November. All sides said they will “de-escalate” efforts to campaign around the ballot measure and instead focus on the legislation.

    Mississippi activists have so far collected more than 5,000 signatures in support of a proposed 2020 medical cannabis ballot measure.

    A bit outside the bubble, but Guam senators approved legislation to allow home cultivation of medical cannabis.

    At a more local level, the Superior, Wisconsin City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization ordinance. And a medical cannabis tax proposed by Phoenix, Arizona’s mayor was unanimously defeated by the City Council.

    As far as specific pieces of legislation go, none have moved this week, as most states’ legislative sessions are adjourned for this year. But be sure to check http://norml.org/act for any legislation still pending in your state and the federal level.

    Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as bills move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

     

  • by Matthew Maulding, Executive Director, NORML of Catawba Valley

    In North Carolina there is only one way we will be able to achieve any level of cannabis reform at the state level, that way is through our legislators in Raleigh.

    Currently, the amount of legislators in office that are supportive of cannabis reform is pretty much nil. Zero. Nada. There are few representatives that are supportive currently but they can’t do anything by themselves. They need other supporters in Raleigh with them.

    Click Here to View NORML’s  North Carolina Voter Guide

    How do we achieve this goal of cannabis reform that we all supposedly hold so dear then if there isn’t anyone willing to change the laws from the inside for us? The answer is, and you’re gonna hate it, vote. We MUST vote, one district at a time, to increase the amount of legislators in Raleigh that support cannabis reform from just a handful of legislators to an abundance of legislators.

    This isn’t going to happen “overnight”, or in one election cycle. This is going to take years to evolve but we must start now. There is nothing we can do about the past and how organizations like ours have tried to get the reform we want, but we can make an assertive effort to change the future.

    I use this analogy all the time when I refer to the reform efforts here in North Carolina; this movement is like a car that’s ran out of gas. In order for us to get the car running and to get where we want, we have to push the car to the gas station. It takes a lot of effort to initially get the car moving, but once it gets rolling it goes faster and gets easier to push. Up till now, I think many separate organizations and activists looked at the car in the past and couldn’t figure out how to get it to the gas station. However, now I feel we have a path towards victory.While its not an easy path, there is only one way we can do it.

    Voting the right candidates in and increasing the number of allies in the Legislative Building in Raleigh starts with this year and starts getting the car rolling. Lobbying efforts in-between elections help keep the car rolling. Then, every election year we can increase our allies through the elections which helps the car pick up speed and helps us “get gas”. Getting favorable numbers in Raleigh will be like finally getting gas in the car in which we can start the car, and drive the rest of the way to the finish line.

    Click Here to View NORML’s North Carolina Voter Guide

    The bottom line is, cannabis reform in North Carolina starts with this election, continues through lobbying efforts in “off-election years”, and then builds speed through every election from here on out. Get out and vote for cannabis friendly candidates every single election and we will get the reform we all need, it’s that simple. It’s a long process but it’s simple.

    For more info about cannabis law reform efforts in North Carolina, please visit http://ncnorml.org/ or email normlofcatawbavalley@gmail.com. You can also follow North Carolina NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director September 30, 2018

    Every day NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Below is a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

    NORML Chapters Focus on Voter Registration and Education for Midterm Elections

    “To help educate our members and supporters about candidates who are supportive of marijuana law reform efforts, NORML is working with “Smoke the Vote” to create state-level and congressional scorecards, similar to our Governor Scorecard, that outlines each candidate’s marijuana policy positions. Furthermore, several NORML chapters, like Arizona NORML and Texas NORML, have created their own regional voter guides for the 2018 midterm elections!”

    Read more from NORML.org!

    Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of Arizona NORML Rate Lawmakers Before Midterm Elections

    “Earlier in August, Mikel Weisser, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws of Arizona, published a lengthy report card on the many candidates vying for a public office in 2018. Now that the votes are being counted and most of the races have clear winners, Weisser said he likes what he sees.”

    Read more from the Phoenix New Times!

    Follow Arizona NORML on Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of El Paso NORML Focus on Education in Advance of Midterm Elections

    “Right now, we’re working with local politicians and our state representatives, and also our state senator José Rodríguez, to advance during our legislative sessions,” DeMorris said. “Other than working with our representatives we’re out, educating the public. We have monthly meetings trying to reach out to the public, trying to educate them about policy reform here in Texas, how it works and stuff like that.”

    Read more from The Prospector!

    Follow El Paso NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of Lancaster NORML Advocate for Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance

    “Rubi Nicholas, executive director of Lancaster chapter of the pro-legalization group NORML, said City Council did the right thing in passing the ordinance, though she said the “ultimate” right thing would be legalization.”

    Read more from Lancaster Online!

    Follow Lancaster NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!  

    Members of Mass/Cann NORML Host Committee Meeting to Discuss Medical Marijuana

    “The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition/National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Mass Cann/NORML) held a committee meeting on the fifteenth floor in the One Beacon Street building. Open to the public, the meeting had around 25 people in attendance.”

    Read more from UMass Media!

    Follow Mass/Cann NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!  

    NORML Chapters in Pennsylvania Rally in Support of Marijuana Law Reforms

    “Marijuana activists in Pennsylvania are poised to introduce an aggressive agenda for reform in 2019 when they fill the Capitol Rotunda at 10am on Monday, September 24,” said Jeff Riedy, Executive Director of Lehigh Valley NORML. “With cannabis arrest counts rising across the state and neighboring states threatening legalization, the time is right for this discussion in Pennsylvania.”

    Read more from NORML.org!

    Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Southeastern Wisconsin NORML Releases Candidate Questionnaire  

    “The Southeastern Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, released results this week of a legislative candidate questionnaire which shows more than 50 candidates for the Legislature support either medical or recreational marijuana legalization or both.”

    Read more from Urban Milwaukee!

    Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of Virginia NORML Team up with Local Brewery for Legalize Virginia Festival

    “The polls overwhelmingly indicate that the citizens of Virginia are ready for faster progress,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “We are grateful to the O’Connor family for providing this megaphone for reform. In states across the nation, we are seeing business owners like them step up and lend their voices to help lead the way.”

    Read more from AltDaily!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Ashley Weber, Executive Director, Colorado NORML

    “Access for medical patients will become more of a problem because medical patients need a higher quality.”

    Read more from Michigan Public Radio!

    Follow Colorado NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Bailey Hirschburg, Lobbyist, Washington NORML

    “With homegrow, we were regularly told, “Why should we vote for it if the other chamber won’t take action?” Hence two bills both trying to move simultaneously.”

    Read more from Weed News!

    Follow Washington NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Bill Downing, Board Member, Mass/Cann NORML

    “Some of the wealthiest people in the entire world live on Beacon Hill and they treat the Boston Common as though it were their backyard,” Downing said. “The people who decided to buy or rent near the Common should know that the Common is going to have events on it. For them to complain is just ridiculous.”

    Read more from the Boston Herald!

    Follow Mass/Cann NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Dale Geringer, Executive Director, California NORML

    “Illegal water diversions to marijuana gardens have been an issue in the past,” Gieringer said. “It will be an interesting experiment to see what actually happens. I have friends in the growing community who said there will be a huge outdoor marijuana drought this year, but that was when the state was bleached white before the last round of rain.”

    Read more from Fort Bragg Advocate-News!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Doug Greene, Legislative Director, Empire State NORML

    “Doug Greene, legislative director of the Empire State National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), suggested sealing records of those who have been convicted.”

    Read more from AMNewYork!

    Follow Empire State NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

    “Eric Marsch, executive director of Southeastern Wisconsin NORML, said the expected public approval of the November referendums should convince legislators there is no need to wait on approving the legalization of marijuana, along with taxing its sales and regulating its production and distribution.”

    Read more from the Journal Sentinel!

    Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Frank Latta, Executive Director, Wyoming NORML

    “Latta served several years on the Gillette council and was mayor of Gillette for eight years. He served four years in the Wyoming legislature. Now, he’s director of the Wyoming chapter of NORML. He said he resents the implication that a support for a change in law makes you a pothead. For him, it’s about what’s the best policy for the citizens of Wyoming.”

    Read more from County 17!

    Follow Wyoming NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “It is in the best interests of patients, of consumers, for there to be transparency throughout this process,” Pedini said. “Patients deserve to know who is making their medicine, if that company has been operational in other states, if they have been compliant, if they have had to stop production or have been cited for other issues.”

    Read more from the Richmond Times-Dispatch!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!   

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “The marijuana midterms, so they’re called, are coming up this November, and it’s time for voters to be heard and to put folks in office who want to take action once they’re there,”

    Read more from Virginia Public Radio!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!  

    Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

    “I understand the concerns about dangerous occupations, but short of that, I think employers should take a more tolerant view,” he said. “It’s shortsighted to eliminate those people because you’re eliminating a lot of creative, motivated people from your candidate pool.”

    Read more from the Detroit Free Press!

    Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Michael Chazukow, Board Member, New Jersey NORML

    “Michael Chazukow, a member of the New Jersey division of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said bans on cultivation centers and retail businesses will not keep marijuana out of communities but will prohibit the traffic, jobs and revenue they generate.”

    Read more from NorthJersey.com!

    Follow New Jersey NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Patrick Nightengale, Executive Director, Pittsburgh NORML

    “Right here in the City of Pittsburgh, people of color are five times as likely to be charged with a minor possession offense than their white counterparts despite similar rates of usage. This is absolutely ridiculous.”

    Read more from CBS Pittsburgh!

    Follow Pittsburgh NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Patrick Nightengale, Executive Director, Pittsburgh NORML

    “A new industry here in PA that could easily generate recurring revenue of $600 million annually without having to add one single penny of new tax revenue.”

    Watch the video from WPXI.com!

    Follow Pittsburgh NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Tom McCain, Executive Director, Peachtree NORML

    “I’m glad to see the Kingsland City Council unanimously approve this ordinance. They join Clarkston, Atlanta, Savannah, Forest Park, South Fulton and Fulton County in enacting sensible marijuana ordinances here in Georgia,”

    Read more from NORML.org!

    Follow Peachtree NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    For more than 45 years NORML chapters have been the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please email NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji at KevinM@NORML.org for help with starting your own!

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

     

  • by NORML September 29, 2018

    NORML is pleased to support the grassroots Voting Restoration Amendment campaign in Florida, run by Second Chances Florida. Florida remains one of only four states with a lifetime ban on voting for people with past felony convictions, even after they have completed their full sentence – including any probation, parole, fines, and restitution. We at NORML believe in second chances, and it is vital that voters have the opportunity to restore voting eligibility for those who have served their time and paid their debts.

    Sign up to make phone calls to Florida voters on October 1st!

    Can’t make calls Monday? Click here to sign up to volunteer before the election. 

    This statewide ballot measure, organized by the grassroots group Second Chances Florida, seeks to restore the voting eligibility of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting eligibility on a case by case basis.

    “Ensuring that all Americans have the eligibility to vote is crucial to the wellbeing of our democracy and is the only way that we will have elected officials in office that truly represent the will of their constituents. There is no legitimate reason that, after serving their time and paying their debts, to continue to deny former felons their vote,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “A large number of those being disenfranchised are guilty of non-violent marijuana possession offenses. In Florida, simple possession of 20 grams or more of marijuana for personal use is a felony charge and it is unAmerican to take away their eligibility to cast a ballot during any election.”

    Currently, 1.4 million Floridians who have completed their sentences are permanently banned from voting, and the state of Florida ranks far ahead of any other state in the number of people excluded from the voting process entirely. Under the current system, Floridians with past felony convictions can only earn eligibility to vote by appearing in front of the Clemency Board, a process which can take more than two decades after a person’s completion of the terms of their sentence. The Florida Clemency Board, which is made up of only four members and meets only four times a year, hears less than 100 cases at a time, making the process almost impossible for many to complete. Because of this, a federal judge recently ruled Florida’s restoration process as arbitrary and unconstitutional.

    If supported by 60% of voters on Election Day, Florida would join the ranks of 46 states and the District of Columbia in allowing people with past felony convictions to earn back their eligibility to vote.

    Sign up NOW to make phone calls on October 1st in support!

    Can’t make calls Monday? Click here to sign up to volunteer before the election. 

    You can also stay up to date on the campaign on Second Chances Florida’s website or Facebook page.

    Forward,

    The NORML Team

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