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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 12, 2018

    This Wednesday, Canada will become the second nation to explicitly legalize the social use, possession, cultivation, and retail production and sale of cannabis. The new law marks the culmination of an effort led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised in 2015, shortly after taking office, to legalize and regulate the marijuana market.

    But PM Trudeau was not always in favor of adult use legalization. In fact, for many years he opposed it. That was until he met face-to-face with NORML advocates in 2012.

    Speaking with the Huffington Post in 2013, Trudeau acknowledged that he reversed his position after speaking with NORML members. “[Their] line of argument did a long way towards convincing me,” he admitted.

    Here is how the Toronto Star reported the event:

    Five short years ago, Trudeau was not a fan of legalized pot. As he wandered around the 2012 Liberal policy convention in Ottawa — the same one in which a majority of party members voted in favour of legalization — Trudeau was a dissenting voice.

    … By the end of 2012, a lot of things had changed for Trudeau — beyond his appearance. He had changed his mind about running for Liberal leader, officially launching his campaign in October, and he was also starting to see that legalization was better than the decriminalization option he’d long favoured.

    Today, Trudeau and his advisers trace the shift to a meeting with two women in his office in November of that year, who armed him with some of the pro-legalization arguments that he’s still using today — now, as prime minister. The two women were Kelly Coulter and Andrea Matrosovs, then representing what was known as the women’s alliance of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

    Coulter, who now lives in Victoria, remembers the meeting well, and is heartened to hear that Trudeau traces his conversion to this encounter.

    “I actually saw the ‘aha’ moment,” Coulter says. It had been an emotional meeting in Trudeau’s tiny Parliament Hill office; the three of them talked about their own personal experience with marijuana. Trudeau talked about his mother using pot, and his brother, Michel, who had been charged with possession not long before he died. (Trudeau has subsequently told the story publicly of how his father used connections to get the charges dropped so that his son didn’t have a criminal record.)

    Coulter told Trudeau flatly that decriminalization would not keep gangs and organized crime out of the marijuana business. “Al Capone would have loved it if alcohol had only been decriminalized,” she said — a line she often used when talking to politicians.
    “I saw the light go on in his eyes,” Coulter said. “He was seeing this as a politician, realizing ‘I can sell this,’ ” she recalled.

    Trudeau could see how this argument would blunt Conservative attacks on him as being soft on crime; with legalization, he could simultaneously seem liberal about marijuana but conservative about gangs and criminals. It helped persuade Trudeau that legalization, would be the best way for the government to regulate its use and keep it safe, especially for kids.

    The lesson here is clear. Never forget that change begins with a single step, and that significant policy reforms can be inspired by a single interaction with lawmakers. Or, as we like to say at NORML, “The more we’re talking about ending prohibition, the more we’re winning.”

    Let’s keep the conversation going.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate

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

    This week, The U.S. House bill to respect state medical cannabis laws (CARERS Act) got two new cosponsors, for a total of 30.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a clarification to a policy many feared would prevent Canadians who work or invest in marijuana businesses from entering the country, indicating that “A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. however, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

    At the state level, The working group appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to draft NY’s leglaization legislation is taking public comments on this initiative until the end of October, and you can submit your own comments by clicking here, or you can email comments to rmls@health.ny.gov.

    New Hampshire’s Commission to Study the Legalization Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana will deliver its final report to Gov. Chris Sununu by Nov. 1. The commission includes legislators, law enforcement officials, state regulators, and law and medical professionals. The report will include recommendations for a legal marijuana market if legalization legislation were to pass, ranging from regulatory framework, to licensing processes, to tax rates and revenue projections.

    New Jersey lawmakers discussed the finer details of pending marijuana legalization legislation. The forthcoming bill addresses taxes, regulations and eligibility to operate a marijuana business. It also includes provisions to address racial inequities in marijuana arrests, and to provide for expungement.

    Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo signed a bill into law allowing medical cannabis home cultivation.

    At a more local level, a Green Bay, Wisconsin City Council committee voted to delay consideration of a proposed ordinance to lower marijuana possession penalties, and the Lawrence, Kansas City Commission is considering a proposal to lower marijuana penalties.

    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

    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

    Pennsylvania

    House Bill 928 was carried over from last year, seeking to reduce minor marijuana possession penalties.

    HB 928 amends state law so that first and second marijuana possession offenses (up to 30 grams) are reduced from misdemeanor offenses to a summary offense, punishable by a fine only.

    Update: HB 928 was heard by the House Judiciary Committee on 10/9 at 9:30am, then approved by the committee after shooting down a proposed amendment that would have barred local jurisdictions in the state from imposing their own decriminalization policies.

    PA resident? Click here to email your representatives in support of decriminalization

    That’s all for this week!

  • by Nevada NORML October 10, 2018

    With the help of the newly established “Cannabition Cannabis Museum,” Nevada’s state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, along with its local affiliate Las Vegas NORML, welcomed the National NORML Board of Directors to Las Vegas with a “Smoke the Vote” voter rally.

    Nevada NORML Executive Director Madisen Saglibene, Jj Walker, NORML Founder Keith Stroup, Aaron Esparza, NORML Board member Beverley Moran, David Hofstein, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, and Sen. Tick Segerblom in front of Hunter’s Shark at the Cannabition Cannabis Museum in Las Vegas

    On Friday, members of National NORML, as well as state chapter leaders from around the nation, spent time activating voters from Nevada’s Cannabis community. The Executive Director of Nevada NORML, Madisen Saglibene, led a press conference announcing the launch of NORML’s “Smoke the Vote” tool; a comprehensive guide highlighting the voting records of state and federal politicians on issues pertaining to marijuana law reform.

    Nevada NORML worked diligently over the past several months to solicit candidates’ responses to NORML’s survey about marijuana consumer protections. While only 60 of the 150 total state-wide candidates responded, it became evident this midterm cycle that cannabis reform is more nonpartisan than ever before. Candidates from around the state took the time to record their positions about trending issues like housing and employment discrimination, home grow, and criminal justice reform.

    Friday’s press conference brought out several candidates from the Libertarian Party, as well as the only non-partisan Assembly candidate running in the state of Nevada, Daniel Hofstein. Alongside these individuals was State Senator, and Nevada Cannabis Champion, Tick Segerblom. Candidates discussed the importance of exercising citizens’ rights to vote, and how not voting has consequences — especially when it comes to marijuana policy. Nevada has reached a time in which constituents have a choice to endorse candidates who support changes to both medical and recreational programs. It was exciting for Nevada NORML during their first election season to be able to find allies that can remain resources if elected into office.

    Amongst members of the Las Vegas Community were NORML Pioneers of Legalization that provided support to the Nevada NORML chapter during their first election cycle. NORML founder Keith Stroup was also in Vegas to inspire the community, and his positions made an impact. Both the Nevada and Las Vegas chapters were honored to be able to host a mixer following the voter rally, continuing the conversation between their new chapter leaders and National leaders like Dale Gehringer and Dan Viets, that have been with NORML for decades – making them credible mentors and motivators. Vanderbilt University Professor of Law and NORML Director, Beverly Moran, spoke during the Nevada event to remind attendees about the vitality of voting in midterm elections. Executive Director of National NORML, Erik Altieri, acknowledged the Clark County Commission candidate, Tick Segerblom, as an instrumental ally for the legalization movement over the decades.

    Closing out the event with an emphasis on voter registration and restoration of voting privileges, NORML volunteers alerted attendees about the Nevada voter registration deadline of October 18th.

    If you are already involved with a local NORML chapter, or wish to be, please be aware that an incredible system of support exist for you.

    NORML encourages voters to visit vote.norml.org to learn more about your 2018 marijuana friendly candidates.

  • 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

     

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