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GOVERNMENT

  • 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) succeeded in inserting hemp legalization language into the wide-ranging 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 base Justice Department funding legislation. On the other hand, the US House Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment to protect banks that work with 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. Similarly, members of the Congressional Black Caucus recently announced their support for marijuana law reforms to keep the federal government out of the business of prohibition and related law enforcement of marijuana.

    At the state level, South Carolina voters approved a medical marijuana advisory question on the Democratic primary ballot by a margin of 81% – 19%. And The Maine Supreme Court ruled that employers don’t need to pay for medical cannabis under the state workers’ compensation system.

    At a more local level, the St. Louis, Missouri circuit attorney will no longer pursue cases for marijuana in the amount of less than 100 grams. And Denver, Colorado is using 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!

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director June 14, 2018

    Today, 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. The RESPECT Resolution seeks both economic and reparative justice, ensuring that disenfranchised communities will be able to benefit equally in the emerging legal and regulated industry.

    “There’s no question that there is growing momentum – both within Congress and nationwide – for cannabis legalization. However, as we move into this new era, we must learn from the failed War on Drugs and ensure that entrepreneurs of color are included in this expanding industry. Due to unequal criminalization rates and disparities in access to capital, people of color are being locked out of the new and thriving legal cannabis trade,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “We need to address the systemic exclusion and discrimination at play. Otherwise, we will be prolonging and encouraging the injustices of the past – where brown men spend their lives in prison for cannabis, while white communities get rich off the industry. I encourage my colleagues to support the RESPECT Resolution, the first bill in Congress focused on building equity in the cannabis industry.”

    As more and more states dial back the war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were impacted by this oppressive criminalization are able to see previous harms remedied and be provided the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation.

    It is absolutely crucial that future legalization efforts include avenues to expunge prior criminal convictions for actions which are now 100% legal. We sincerely appreciate Congresswoman Lee’s vision to facilitate those expungements at no cost to the individual. Currently, a complicated bureaucracy and unnecessary fees often prevent drug war victims from obtaining expungements and being able to fully participate in many aspects of civil society.

    Send a message to your Representative now in support of The RESPECT Resolution.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director

    The House Appropriations Committee took up and defeated language known as the Safe Banking Amendment offered by Congressman Dave Joyce (R-OH) on Wednesday, June 13th.

    If adopted, regulators would not be authorized to use federal funds to threaten sanctions against banks working with marijuana-related businesses and entrepreneurs.

    The defeat of the Safe Banking Amendment was not a vote about marijuana, but rather it was about normalizing a nascent industry that serves hundreds-of-thousands of customers in the majority of US states where cannabis is currently regulated. Once these companies have an easier time conducting their day-to-day operations, then they should be willing to offer more consumer-friendly prices instead of inflating them at the point of sale to cover backend costs associated with operating as an all-cash business.

    Currently, hundreds of state-legal, licensed, and regulated businesses do not have access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Congress must move to change federal policy so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

    As an appropriations amendment, this funding restriction would have only been in place for one year.

    There is pending bicameral legislation introduced by Representative Perlmutter (D-CO) and Senator Jeff Merkley that the banking amendment was based, known similarly as the SAFE Banking Act. You can click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of that legislation. 

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 8, 2018

    President Donald Trump on Friday expressed verbal support for recently introduced, bi-partisan legislation that seeks to codify legal protections for state-sanctioned marijuana-related activities.

    In response to a question from reporters, the President acknowledged that he “probably will end up supporting” The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018, sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Corey Gardner (R-CO). Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also reportedly promised to permit a vote on the legislation.

    The bill mandates that the federal Controlled Substances Act “shall not apply to any person acting in compliance” the marijuana legalization laws of their state. It also amends federal law to explicitly remove industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. A bipartisan House companion bill, sponsored by Reps. David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), is pending in the House of Representatives.

    Also today, Governors from 12 states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging passage of the STATES Act.

    In April, Sen. Gardner acknowledged that he had spoken with the President regarding the intent of his bill and that Trump “assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”

    Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of the States Act. 

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate

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

    There were some key developments this week at the federal level, including a new bill introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), 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 was introduced by Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly pledged to permit a vote on the bill, while President Trump has publicly expressed his support for it.

    Also in Congress, the US House Rules Committee, led by prohibitionist Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX), blocked multiple amendments related to marijuana from receiving consideration by the full House, thus ending their consideration and silencing the ability for the lower chamber to offer either legal protections or expanded access to veterans who use cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    By contrast, members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar amendment to allow military veterans to get medical cannabis recommendations from Department of Veterans Affairs doctors and to protect them from being denied VA services because of their participation in state medical marijuana programs.

    In a press release issued by Senator Mitch McConnell’s office, he announced that he had secured the language of S. 2667 in the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee will officially consider the legislation on Wednesday, June 13.

    At the state level, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) vetoed legislation to allow marijuana “tasting rooms,” as well as legislation to permit autism as a qualifying condition, but signed a bill into law to allow school personnel to administer medical cannabis to patients at schools. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed legislation into law permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, severe muscle spasms, autism or glaucoma. And Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed a bill modifying provisions relating to industrial hemp.

    New Jersey Senator Nicholas Scutari introduced a new bill that would bring adult use marijuana to the state while also expanding the medical marijuana program. And Michigan Republican lawmakers failed to get enough legislative support to amend and enact marijuana legalization by Tuesday’s deadline, meaning that the measure will appear on the November ballot.

    At a more local level, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania City Council voted unanimously to approve a marijuana decriminalization ordinance, Minneapolis, Minnesota is ending low-level marijuana stings after it was revealed that nearly all people targeted by such actions are black, Savannah, Georgia police are preparing to implement a marijuana decriminalization ordinance starting on July 1, and Fulton County, Georgia commissioners voted to decriminalize marijuana in unincorporated areas.

    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

    Delaware

    Lawmakers in Delaware are once again considering House Bill 110 to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use.

    The legislation in 2017 was voted out of Committee, but then stalled as lawmakers elected to approve a resolution establishing a marijuana legalization task force. This group, which includes representatives from Delaware NORML, is anticipated to make recommendations to the legislature early this year.

    Update: It is anticipated that House Bill 110 will get a vote in the House in the next couple weeks, as well as in the Senate before the end of the legislative session in late June.

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

    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: The House Committee on Judiciary & Government Operations held a hearing on marijuana legalization on 6/5.

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

    New York

    Legislation is pending in both chambers, A. 9016 and S. 7564 to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    Update: A. 9016 was approved by the Assembly on 6/6, and now awaits action in the Senate Health Committee.

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

    California

    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.

    Update: AB 1793 was approved by the full Assembly on 5/31, and now awaits action in the Senate Rules Committee.

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

    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

    Update: SB 829 was approved by the Rules Committee unanimously, and now awaits action from the Committee on Business and Professions.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of exempting compassionate care programs from paying taxes

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

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