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  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator January 11, 2019

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

    As the first full week of the 116th Congress comes to a close, we have another new federal bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). HR 420 (yes, you read that right): The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act would deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

    Also, the rollout of the new leadership team of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus was announced. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) are joining founding members Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK).

    At the state level, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington launched a new program and began granting pardons to those with past criminal misdemeanor marijuana-related convictions on their record.

    At a more local level, the commonwealth attorney of Norfolk, Virginia will stop prosecuting all misdemeanor cannabis possession cases. And Dayton, Ohio completely decriminalized cannabis possession, as the city commission decided to eliminate the existing $150 possession fine.

    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 at the federal level. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Regulate Like Alcohol: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 — (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

    Click here to email your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    North Dakota

    Rep. Shannon Roers Jones (R) introduced legislation, House Bill 1155, to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

    The measure would impose a civil penalty of $200 for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as for the cultivation of up to two marijuana plants.

    ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2134, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    The measure would permit patients to grow up to nine cannabis plants in a locked, enclosed facility, and to possess up to three ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

    Update: SB 2134 will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on 1/16/19 at 10:30am.

    ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1272, to expand access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.

    The proposed changes are:

    • Allowing providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with Anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, autism, or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
    • Allowing physician assistants and naturopaths to recommend medical cannabis to their patients;
    • And allowing for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting North Dakota.

    A separate provision of the bill seeks to eliminate the option for patients to inhale herbal cannabis for therapeutic purposes. NORML opposes this provision.

    Update: HB 1272 will be heard by the Human Services Committee on 1/14 at 9:15am.

    ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers and urge them to amend this bill

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 399, to permit those convicted of past marijuana offenses to seek an expungement of their criminal records.

    If passed, HB 399 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana. Lawmakers decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses in 2017.

    Update: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold an executive session for HB 399 on 1/17 at 11am.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 364, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    The measure would permit patients to grow up to two mature plants and 12 seedings, and to possess up to six ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

    Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 364 on 1/15 at 2pm.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 366, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid addiction, misuse, or abuse.

    Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 366 on 1/17 at 2:30pm.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 350, to expand medical cannabis access.

    The measure expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

    Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 350 on 1/16 at 11am.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 335, to expand access to medical cannabis in New Hampshire.

    The measure would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to authorize additional dispensary licenses in certain geographic areas of the state. Under existing law, only a handful of licensed dispensaries are permitted in the state. This means that some patients must travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices to obtain their medicine.

    Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 399 on 1/15 at 1pm.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of additional dispensaries

    Kentucky

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 80, to legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis for adults.

    The measure would allow adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, and cultivate up to 6 mature, and/or 6 immature plants.

    KY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    State Sen. Jimmy Higdon plans to file legislation in 2019 to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    Under existing law, minor marijuana possession offenses are categorized as a criminal misdemeanor — punishable by up to 45 days in jail.

    KY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

    Tennessee

    Lawmakers will consider legislation in 2019 to allow qualified patients to access marijuana-infused products. While NORML believes this legislation is limited in scope, it is an important first step in legalizing and regulating medical cannabis access in Tennessee.

    TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical access

    Virginia

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1557, to expand the state’s low-THC medical cannabis oil program.

    The measure would allow Virginia’s licensed practitioners to recommend and pharmaceutical processors to dispense full therapeutic-strength medical cannabis oil. Under existing state law, medical cannabis oil may contain no more than five percent THC, greatly restricting its therapeutic potential and medical efficacy.

    VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    Georgia

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 10, to reduce the penalty for minor marijuana possession offenses.

    Under this proposed measure, the possession of up to one half ounce of marijuana would be reduced from an offense punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,000 to an offense punishable by a maximum fine of $300. However, the offense would still remain classified as a criminal misdemeanor.

    GA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions

    Colorado

    Legislation is pending in Colorado that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis.

    Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.

    House Bill 19-1028 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

    CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    New York

    Legislation is pending, S. 490, to allow qualified patients the option to inhale herbal cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of herbal medical cannabis inhalation

    Legislation is pending, S 219, to explicitly permit children and developmentally disabled individuals with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered at schools and other facilities, and require school districts and facilities to create policies for medical marijuana administration.

    NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

    New Mexico

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 204, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

    The measure permits children with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered to them while on school property.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

    Indiana

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1130, to protect out-of-state patients who possess medical cannabis while visiting Indiana.

    Under this measure, patients who are registered to use medical cannabis in those 33 jurisdictions that permit it may legally bring up to 30 grams of their medicine with them while visiting Indiana.

    IN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protecting out of state patients

    Other Actions to Take

    Missouri

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 440 / Senate Bill 2, to facilitate equity among those licensed to operate in the medical cannabis industry.

    The measure would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to prioritize licensing applications submitted by women and minority owned business applicants.

    MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of equity within the industry

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 459, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    The measure seeks to “establish policy and procedures for growing industrial hemp in new Hampshire so that farmers and other businesses in the New Hampshire agricultural industry can take advantage of this market opportunity.”

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

    South Carolina

    Legislation is pending, H 3449, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with new federal hemp regulations.

    SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

    Connecticut

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 8, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    The measure seeks to “legalize the production of industrial hemp in the state and to establish rules for such production.”

    CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

    North Dakota

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1349, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with new federal hemp regulations.

    ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director January 10, 2019

    This week, Congressman Earl Blumenauer reserved HR 420 for his legislation, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.

    A decades-long champion of cannabis reform, this marks the first time that Blumenauer has staked out the specific bill number 420. His focus however, is ever on the goal of reform, telling Forbes, “While the bill number may be a bit tongue in cheek, the issue is very serious. Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch and have negatively impacted countless lives.”

    The legislation would deschedule cannabis, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit. Further, marijuana would be removed from the enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matters concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales, to a newly renamed Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to ensure compliance with state laws and prevent illegal trafficking of the substance.

    In the 115th Congress, the bill had 26 cosponsors – compared to 19 cosponsors in the 114th.

    Will you tell your Representative to cosponsor the bill? Click here to send a message in less than 20 seconds.

    Then spread the word! Click here to share our action alert on Facebook and click here to share it on Twitter

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director January 9, 2019

    Today, the rollout of the new leadership team of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus was announced, with Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) joining founding members Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK).

    First founded in 2017, the Caucus has been a pivotal element in our ability to build broad bipartisan support for legislation that would address every aspect of reform, from ending criminalization to research to veterans healthcare.

    “The Cannabis Caucus was the first of its kind to create a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Congress is clearly out of step with the American people on cannabis when national support for federal marijuana legalization is at an all-time high and we saw several states move toward with legalization last November.”

    “Over the last decade, I’ve worked to build understanding and consensus on the need for reform and our movement is cresting. I’m looking forward to working alongside Reps. Lee, Joyce, and Young to build on the bipartisan work we’ve done to end the senseless federal prohibition on marijuana once and for all.”

    The addition of Rep. Lee brings much-needed diversity to the Caucus’s leadership, as she will become the first woman and first African-American to serve as co-chair. A longtime champion of reform efforts, Rep. Lee introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in the last Congress which received the highest number of cosponsorships of any legislation that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act in history.

    “For far too long, communities of color and women have been left out of the conversation on cannabis. I am committed to ensuring that marijuana reform goes hand-in-hand with criminal justice reform so we can repair some of the harm of the failed War on Drugs. We must also work to build an industry that is equitable and inclusive of the communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition,” said Rep. Lee.

    By joining, Rep. Joyce becomes the first leader in the Caucus to come from a state that has yet to pass an adult-use regulatory program. A longtime supporter of reform efforts himself, Rep. Joyce stepped up in the last Congress and introduced The States Act, legislation that would ease the tension between federal prohibition and state-legal programs, as well as was a cosponsor of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act entirely.

    “I’m proud to join my colleagues in leading the effort to implement responsible, commonsense cannabis policies,” said Rep. Joyce. “It is critical that we protect the rights of the states across the country, like Ohio, that have already done so at the state level. The federal government’s interference in this arena has stifled important medical research, interfered with doctors and patients making treatment decisions and harmed state-legal businesses. I look forward to working with Congressman Blumenauer, Congressman Young, and Congresswoman Lee to advance sensible cannabis reforms that will benefit our nation’s veterans, patients, and businesses across the country.”

    The continued efforts of the Caucus will lead to increased levels of support for reform at the federal level and fosters an all-around positive element to promote effective government solutions.

    “Since the initial launch of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus we’ve seen an exponential growth in interest, legislation, and membership many would not have expected”, said Young. “The idea of States’ Rights has been a central tenet of this movement and one that I believe will ultimately carry the day. I encourage all Members to join us in this debate and explore the varying issues.”

    In the 115th Congress, NORML hosted a number of events in cooperation with the Cannabis Caucus, including policy briefings with travel writer Rick Steves, former US Attorneys Barry Grissom and Bill Nettles, and victims of criminalization as part of “The Faces of Prohibition.”

    We look forward to continuing to work with the growing group of congressional allies who join the Cannabis Caucus to end federal marijuana criminalization once and for all.

    You can email your Representative now to tell them to join their colleagues in the Cannabis Caucus by clicking here.  

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director January 8, 2019

    Since the passage of Proposition 1, officially known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which legalized the sale, possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and up last November, members of Michigan NORML have encountered a new challenge: municipal opt-out. Similar to other states that have legalized adult-use marijuana like Colorado, California and Oregon, it’s up to municipal governments in Michigan to decide if legal marijuana businesses can operate within their communities.

    To date, more than 80 municipalities in Michigan have imposed moratoriums or outright bans on the sale of adult-use marijuana. In some cases, like with the city of Troy where residents opposed Proposition 1, it’s due to a lack of support for legal marijuana. In other cities, municipal governments are simply waiting until they have a better understanding of how the new law will be implemented by state lawmakers before exploring rules and regulations for local licensing.

    “I’m confident that many municipalities will opt-in after the State promulgates administrative rules and sample ordinance amendments are made available to municipal attorneys,” said Brad Forrester, Board Member of Michigan NORML. “Some of the municipal officials I’ve spoken with have expressed an interest, but they don’t really understand exactly how the process works and they said they’re awaiting guidance from State officials.”

    Considering many who supported Proposition 1 believed passage of the new law was going to eliminate underground marijuana sales by providing access to a legal and regulated alternative, the decision by municipal governments to opt-out of the sale of adult-use marijuana appears to undermine the intent of the initiative and expectations of voters. We’re at a tipping point in America with regard to public support for ending marijuana prohibition, but there’s still plenty of work to do, especially at the local level.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths and misinformation with NORML’s Fact Sheets! Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

     

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator January 4, 2019

    Happy New Year and welcome to the first Weekly Legislative Roundup of 2019!

    Marijuana LegislationThe new Congress was just sworn in yesterday, and they are not wasting any time. U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Young (R-AK) re-introduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which protects those engaged in state-lawful medical marijuana programs from federal prosecution. Separate provisions in the bill exclude cannabidiol from the federal definition of marijuana, permit VA doctors to authorize medical cannabis access to qualified patients, and remove undue federal barriers to clinical trial research to better assess the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis.

    At the state level, Alaska regulators have voted in favor of plans to permit on-site marijuana consumption at designated retailers. And lawmakers in Maryland are planning to establish a working group to explore marijuana legalization implementation, if and when voters approve a ballot initiative in 2020.

    And at a more local level, Dayton, Ohio is considering a proposal to completely decriminalize marijuana and remove the $150 possession fine.

    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 at the federal level. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

    Join the Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, key Congressional allies have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

    Click here to email your member of Congress and urge them to join the Cannabis Caucus

    Pennsylvania

    State Senators Daylin Leach (D) and Sharif Street (D), as well as Rep. Jake Wheatley (D), plan to file marijuana legalization bills in their respective chambers this legislative session.

    The measures would regulate the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

    PA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    Vermont

    Lawmakers will consider legislation this legislative session to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

    VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of regulation

    New Hampshire

    Pre-filed legislation seeks 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. The bill would also establish a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee the regulated market.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    Massachusetts

    State Senator Jason Lewis announced plans to introduce legislation to protect responsible adult cannabis consumers from employment discrimination.

    The measure would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume marijuana off-the-job in accordance with state law.

    MA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of consumer employment protections

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, HB 350, to expand medical cannabis access.

    The measure expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expanded medical access

    Georgia

    Lawmakers in Georgia will consider a proposal to expand and facilitate patients’ access to medical cannabidiol (CBD) products.

    The pending legislation seeks to establish a regulatory framework to permit the retail sale of medical CBD products to registered patients.

    GA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical CBD access

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