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  • by Nevada NORML January 2, 2019

    With a new year on the horizon, members of Nevada and Las Vegas NORML wanted to take time to shine light on 18 of our most memorable moments from 2018. (It was hard to choose just 18!)

    January 2018: Protested Jeff Sessions

    We certainly didn’t expect the opportunity to protest Jeff Sessions alongside Congresswoman Dina Titus and State Senators Aaron Ford & Tick Segerblom at the Apothecary Shoppe Dispensary with every news outlet present, but it happened! We loved the chance to stand up for the State of Nevada and to be able to show our community that we are a strong voice of the people!

    February 2018: Dr. Dabber became a sponsor

    Yeah, that freaking happened! It was such an honor to have a company like Dr. Dabber, that we all know and respect, believe in our work and sponsor us! Together, we were able to provide record sealing services and great education throughout Las Vegas. They were even cool enough to offer hella deals to NORML members!

    January – March 2018: Partnering with Harrison House

    Throughout the earlier part of 2018, we had the great pleasure of volunteering for Harrison House, which was the 1st African American Guest House in Las Vegas during a very segregated time. In learning about Las Vegas’ history from a perspective that isn’t often discussed, we got a firm grasp on how marijuana has undisputedly been a tool used for oppression. This only reaffirmed that social justice needs to be a priority when discussing marijuana policy in this community. We participated in gardening and yard clean up at Harrison House, held a Black History month panel together, and helped with a Mardi Gras neighborhood celebration.

    April 2018: “Setting the Record Straight” Program

    Instead of hosting a 420 bash this past April, we decided to focus on having community impact through restorative justice. Finding lawyers like Garrett Ogata and Nick Wooldridge to refer prior marijuana conviction victims to, was invaluable! We created a dope set of resources to give to people interested in sealing their record and held an educational seminar educating them on the steps. We will continue to provide education on record sealing in Nevada throughout 2019 and help clients find financial assistance to do so when qualified!

    May 2018: Primary Voting Rally

    The 2018 midterms were NO JOKE. This was our first year dabbling in the candidacy aspects of things, but quickly learned the value of being an educated voter and focusing on primary elections. We held a press conference with our National NORML Political Director, Justin Strekal, a voter registration event at 7th & Carson in downtown Las Vegas, and even did phone banking to encourage voting in primaries all throughout May. It was amazing to see an increase in younger voters registering!

    June 2018: Collected 79 Candidate Surveys from across Nevada

    Nobody said it was going to be easy, and it definitely wasn’t, but it was really rewarding showing voters statewide how candidates felt on specific marijuana related issues. Because of the hard work from National NORML, we helped produce the Smoke the Vote platform for voters to refer to, and the feedback we got was incredible!

    July 2018: Social Use Venue Advocacy

    The City of Las Vegas began drafting ordinances for social consumption this year, and we were proud to show up and voice our concerns on the record. Although it has still not been remedied, Las Vegas NORML members advocated strongly against 24 hr surveillance fed directly to law enforcement and raised concerns about mixing cannabis with alcohol. This will continue to be an area we advocate for throughout 2019 because of the intersectionality with criminal justice reforms and consumer protections. We hope that with the introduction of social lounges, tourists and residents will both have legal places to consume!

    July 2018: Lobby Day in DC

    Each year, NORML activists from around the nation gather in D.C. to engage their lawmakers in marijuana policy reform. We are proud of the relationships we developed with Congress throughout this time and are confident that we can achieve great things together! D.C. can be an intimidating place, but we are loving the chance to navigate it again in 2019.

    August 2018: Public Meetings at Acres

    Earlier this year, Acres Cannabis Dispensary was kind enough to offer their space in the Underground to Las Vegas NORML and our members! Every first Wednesday of the month, we host a free educational meeting that is open to adults 21 or older.  A huge part of our mission includes providing education to the community, so having this valuable space has been a huge blessing!

    September 2018: Election Education & Voter Reinstatement

    This past election cycle, we focused really hard on not only educating the community, but our board too. We worked really closely with Aaron from Restore Your Vote to learn more about how those with a criminal history can reinstate their right to vote. It’s a very common misconception that if you had a past marijuana conviction, you are ineligible to vote in Nevada, but we found out this is not solely the case. We are truly passionate about being a voice for those who have lost hope and love being able to provide resources to help educate them.

    October 2018: Hung with Keith Stroup & National NORML

    It’s not everyday that the founder of NORML is in your hometown! It was an absolutely memorable experience to have Keith here to help us host a voter rally at the World Famous ‘Cannabition’ Cannabis Museum in downtown Vegas! We even had the pleasure of meeting several other members of the National NORML board, too. We consider it a great privilege that we were able to show them our city and more of our work on a local level!

    October 2018: Pumpkin Bongs at Cheba Hut

    Our cool friends over at Cheba Hut Toasted Subs let us throw down some pumpkin carving for our October Informal with NORML, and we ran with it! Who doesn’t make bongs and steamrollers out of fall vegetables?!

    November 2018: Jeff Sessions is OUT and Cannabis friendly legislators are IN!

    What a relief that Sessions’ is finally gone and we can start to progress Marijuana policy at the federal level. Cannabis friendly Governors and Commissioners are taking over Nevada and the West in general. We have a lot of conversations to have with new office holders, but it’s never been easier now that 66% of Americans support legalizing marijuana!

    November 2018: Herban Expo

    Las Vegas NORML was the education sponsor for the inaugural Herban Expo at the Rio and coordinated over 25 educational presentations and panels over the course of 3 days! It was really impressive to see how much our community came out to listen to the speakers and the engagement it created. Herban Expo will 100% be back in 2019!

    November 2018: 600 letters to Congress

    Yep, you read that right…We collected 600 physical letters to members of Congress with the help of Denver NORML in just one weekend in Las Vegas! We set a goal, and people like you helped us reach it by making a small effort to tell Congress that marijuana reform is important!

    December 2018: “Access for All” Patient Voucher Program

    It’s been truly challenging for us to figure out a way to help patients in the state of Nevada because of regulation often making it impossible to provide medicine to those who need it. We are so eternally grateful that we have finally found local businesses like Sweet Cannabis and The Source to help distribute cannabis to patients who qualify. We look forward to building this program out even more in 2019! Visit lvnorml.org/patients for more info

    And some year-long focuses we are especially proud of:

    Progression and development of media

    We were really fortunate to gain really talented media pros and graphic designers as volunteers this year to help us develop more interesting content. Hella props to friends like Rev from Rocester NORML and Mrs. Rex 420 here in Vegas for helping us design digital content this year! Weed TV, Vegas Cannabis Magazine and Kool Katz Media were also incredible blessings that have helped us astronomically with other media exposure this year!

    Growing our squad

    Grassroots activists are hard to come by these days, but it’s been clear that the 2018 Las Vegas NORML crew is no force to reckon with! The newly organized board, expert advisors, team of awesome volunteers & sponsors have been quickly gaining traction in the community and everyone is having a blast doing it! Las Vegas NORML volunteers are a diverse and passionate group of individuals that have worked tirelessly this past year to develop a positive reputation throughout the community. It is because of community members and new activists involvement that the organization continues to strengthen and grow!

  • by NORML December 27, 2018

    2018 NORML's Top TenRead the ten biggest stories that shaped marijuana policy in 2018.

    #1: Public Support in Favor of Adult Use Legalization at Historic Highs
    More adults than ever before believe that marijuana use by adults ought to be legal. An October poll conducted by Gallup reported that 66 percent of adults – including majorities of Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and those over the age of 55 – back legalization. The percentage is the highest level of support ever reported by the polling firm. A 2018 Pew poll similarly reported greater public support for legalization than ever before, while a June poll by the Center for American Progress reported that 68 percent of voters nationwide endorse legalization – the highest level of national support ever recorded in a scientific survey.

    #2: Marijuana Initiatives Win at the Ballot Box
    Voters in four states – Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah – passed voter initiated measures in 2018 regulating the use of marijuana. Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah became the 31st, 32nd, and 33rd states to enact medical cannabis access laws, while Michigan became the tenth state to permit adult marijuana use. In January, Vermont legislatively enacted provisions permitting adults to grow and possess marijuana for their own personal use.

    #3: Congress Amends CSA to Lift Ban on Commercial Hemp Production
    Hemp-specific provisions included in the 2018 Farm Bill (aka The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) for the first time amend the federal classification of marijuana to distinguish between cannabis and hemp. Under the new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2019, hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. The Act also broadens the definition of ‘hemp’ (Section 297A) to include “any part of the plant, including …. extracts [or] cannabinoids” that do not possess greater than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis. The Act also for the first time in decades permits for the licensed commercial cultivation of hemp under a partnership of state and federal regulations.

    #4 Canada Legalizes Adult Marijuana Use and Retail Sales
    Canadian lawmakers this summer approved federal legislation permitting the use of marijuana by those ages 18 and older, and regulating adult use cannabis production and sales. Retailers began selling cannabis in compliance with the new law in October. In November, justices for Mexico’s Supreme Court also struck down the nation’s marijuana ban – finding that laws criminalizing the private use and cultivation of cannabis by adults are unconstitutional.

    #5: Governors Campaign, Win On Marijuana Legalization Platforms
    Candidates for Governor in numerous state races campaigned and won in 2018 on a pledge to legalize and regulate the adult use of cannabis. Specifically, incoming governors in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Illinois explicitly pledged to enact legalization. Re-elected Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo has also pledged to enact adult use legalization in early 2019, as has New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

    #6: Incoming House Rules Chair to Allow Floor Votes on Marijuana-Related Measures
    Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern said in November that he will permit federal lawmakers to debate and vote on marijuana-related amendments when he assumes control of the House Rules Committee in 2019. Representative McGovern replaces outgoing Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid. Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. “Unlike my predecessor, I’m not going to block amendments for marijuana,” McGovern said. “Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind.”

    #7: Legal Marijuana Access is Associated with Reduced Opioid Abuse
    Over a dozen peer-reviewed studies were published in 2018 finding that regulated marijuana access is associated with lower rates of opioid use, abuse, and mortality. Among patients enrolled in medical cannabis access programs, use of opioids frequently decreases or is eliminated altogether.

    #8: FBI: Marijuana Arrests Spike for Second Straight Year
    The total number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws rose for the second consecutive year, according to data released in September by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2017. As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were least likely to occur in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized. By contrast, in Midwestern states, marijuana-related arrests comprised over 53 percent of all drug arrests.

    #9: FDA Approves First Ever Plant-Derived Cannabis Medicine
    Regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration in June for the first time granted market approval to a plant-derived cannabis medicine, Epidiolex. The medicine contains a standardized formulation of plant-derived cannabidiol for the explicit treatment of two rare forms of severe epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. In September, the US Drug Enforcement Administration classified Epidiolex to Schedule V — the lowest restriction categorization available under federal law.

    #10: States, Localities Move to Expunge Past Marijuana Convictions
    California became the first state to automatically review and expunge past marijuana-related convictions, under legislation enacted in October. Delaware enacted a similar law calling for the mandatory expungement of certain marijuana-related offenses, joining several other states that permit those with past records to petition to have those records sealed. Local officials in various cities in 2018, including Denver, Philadelphia, and Seattle, announced the facilitation of similar policies.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator December 21, 2018

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

    History has been made at the federal level this week! President Donald Trump signed The Farm Bill into law on Thursday that includes language lifting the United States’ decades-long prohibition on domestic, commercial hemp production. Specifically, the 2018 Act amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance under federal law.

    On the other hand, Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) blocked lawmakers from considering an amendment on the floor of the U.S. Senate that sought to permanently remove the threat of federal intervention in states that regulate marijuana sales.

    At the state level, Vermont’s Marijuana Advisory Commission delivered its final report to Governor Scott, which outlines recommendations on how a legal adult use market should be implemented. Recommendations include a 26% tax on cannabis sales, and that a consistent way to test for impairment among drivers is needed before the state moves forward.

    At a more local level, Mayor DeBlasio of New York City officially announced his support for legalization; this came soon after Governor Cuomo also endorsed legalizing adult use marijuana. Also, prosecutors in Brooklyn, NY began to expunge records for minor marijuana offenses.

    Following are the bills 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. 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

    Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

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

    Indiana

    Legislation has been pre-filed by Senator Tallian (D), Senate Bill 213, to allow adults to possess up to two ounces of marijuana.

    IN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of depenalization

    State Senator Karen Tallian also plans to introduce a bill in 2019 that would allow qualified patients to use and possess physician-authorized medical marijuana.

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

    North Dakota

    Rep. Shannon Roers Jones (R) plans to introduce legislation during the 2019 legislative session 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

    South Carolina

    Legislation is pending, H. 3276, to decriminalize the possession of certain controlled substances, including marijuana.

    The measure would impose a civil penalty for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, resulting in a fine only, between $100-$200 for the first offense, and between $200-$1,000 for the second offense.

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

    Legislation has been pre-filed to permit physician-authorized access to medical marijuana for qualified patients.

    H. 3272: The Put Patients First Act allows registered patients to use, possess, and cultivate specified quantities of medical marijuana.

    A separate measure, H. 3081: The Medical Use of Marijuana Act, also seeks to regulate medical cannabis distribution and access, but does not permit patients to home-cultivate the plant.

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

    Other Actions to Take

    Missouri

    Two pieces of legislation are pending that would allow Missourians with certain prior cannabis convictions to get their records expunged.

    House Bill 292 requires the court to expunge the records for those previously convicted of the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana possession.

    House Bill 341 would allow registered medical marijuana patients to have their records expunged if they were convicted of a possession offense that occurred prior to their participation in the state’s cannabis access program.

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

    Oregon

    Legislation is pending, LC 2152, to protect responsible adult cannabis consumers from employment discrimination.

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

    OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of employment protections for consumers

    Maryland

    Legislation has been pre-filed, HB 33, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

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

    Virginia

    Delegate Chris Hurst has filed HB 1720, which seeks to permit any student who is a registered Virginia medical cannabis patient to possess and use Virginia-allowed medical cannabis oil on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity.

    If passed, this bill would prohibit a school board from suspending or expelling from school attendance any such student who possesses or uses Virginia-allowed medical cannabis oil on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity.

    VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protections for student patients

    That’s all for this week, happy holidays everyone!

  • by NORML December 20, 2018

    President Donald Trump today signed legislation into law that includes language lifting the United States’ decades-long prohibition on domestic, commercial hemp production. The provisions were included within The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka ‘The Farm Bill’), which takes effect on January 1, 2019.

    “The significance of this law change should not be underemphasized,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “This law marks the first change in the federal classification of the cannabis plant since it was initially classified as a schedule I controlled substance by Congress in 1970, and paves the way for the first federally-sanctioned commercial hemp grows since World War II.”

    Language included in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill (Sec. 7606) permitted states to license farmers to cultivate hemp as part of a university-sanction pilot program, but did not allow for the commercialization of the crop.

    The hemp-specific provisions of the 2018 Act amend the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance under federal law.

    The Act also broadens the definition of ‘hemp’ (Section 297A) to include “any part of the plant, including …. extracts [or] cannabinoids” that do not possess greater than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis. To date, various commercial products – such as some CBD oils – are advertised as being derived from hemp, although some experts in the field dispute the notion that such plants are an efficient source for cannabinoids.

    The Act (Section 297B) permits those US states that wish to possess “primary regulatory authority over the production of hemp” to submit a plan to the US Secretary of Agriculture. The agency has 60 days to approve, disapprove, or amend the plan. In instances where a state-proposed plan is not approved, “it shall be unlawful to produce hemp in that state … without a license.” Federal grant opportunities will be available to licensed commercial farmers, as will the ability for farmers to obtain crop insurance. The Act does not federally recognize non-licensed, non-commercial hemp cultivation activities.

    Nothing in the new language (Section 297D) shall “affect or modify” the existing regulatory powers of the US Food and Drug Administration or other agencies with regard to the enforcement of the US Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act or the Public Health Service Act. The FDA has previously acknowledged that it will “take action when we see the illegal marketing of CBD-containing products with unproven medical claims. We’re especially concerned when these products are marketed for serious or life-threatening diseases, where the illegal promotion of an unproven compound could discourage a patient from seeking other therapies that have proven benefits.”

    NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: “These changes represent a significant and long overdue shift in US policy. Nonetheless, future regulatory efforts will likely still be required to address emerging consumer issues when it comes to the commercial sale and marketing of certain hemp-derived products, particularly so-called hemp-derived CBD extracts. For years, many of the producers of these products have navigated in a grey area of the law — manufacturing products of variable and sometimes questionable quality and safety. Now it is time for lawmakers to craft consistent benchmark safety and quality standards for hemp-derived CBD in order to increase consumer satisfaction and confidence as this nascent industry transitions into a legal marketplace.”

    On Background:

    What is hemp?

    Unlike traditional cannabis, which is primarily grown for the purpose of harvesting its flowers, industrial hemp is a fibrous crop grown mainly for its stalk and seeds — which can be utilized in the manufacturing of textiles, paper, animal feed, food-stuffs and numerous other products. Because only trace levels of THC, the primary psychotropic compound in marijuana, is present in hemp, most countries — including Canada and Japan — appropriately define it as an agricultural crop and not as a controlled substance. In fact, according to the Congressional Research Service, “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.”

    What is CBD?

    Cannabidiol is one of a number of naturally occurring cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. It possesses a number of known therapeutic effects, such as anxioltytic and anti-convulsant effects. Like other cannabinoids, it is most prominent in cannabis flowers, and not in the plant’s stalks. As a result, some experts opine, “Traditional hemp is an inefficient source of CBD.” Federal agencies like the US Food and Drug Administration maintain that CBD sourced from traditional cannabis meets the criteria of a schedule I controlled substance.

    Can’t some states already grow hemp?

    Yes. Under Sec. 7606 of the 2014 Farm Act, states may license farmers to cultivate hemp as part of a university-sanction pilot program. Over 40 states have enacted legislation permitting such activity.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director

    While lawmakers in Albany continue to explore the intricacies of legalizing and regulating adult-use marijuana in New York, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced a plan to expunge low-level marijuana convictions from criminal records. In a recent interview with CBS New York, Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez had this to say. “I do not believe these cases keep us safer. They cause a lot of distrust in our justice system. We all here know there is a tremendous racial disparity in respect to how these cases have been enforced in the past.”

    Following the announcement from the District Attorney’s Office, David C.  Holland, Esq., Executive and Legal Director of Empire State NORML, weighed in on the DA’s decision. “Justice is being vindicated by District Attorney Gonzalez through his actions by openly acknowledging that cannabis was and is not the source of social ills or disruption. Rather, his actions continue to help the Empire State continue to move to responsible use legislation as communities and individuals most impacted by the misguided drug war may become innovators and leaders in this new green industrial era. ”

    For months, state legislators and officials with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office have been soliciting feedback from stakeholders and hosting roundtable meetings with the hope of drafting legislation for next year’s legislative session that’s scheduled to convene on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. In addition to discussions about tax revenues and health and public safety, many are urging lawmakers to include language that would allow for the expungement of past marijuana convictions and expansion of re-entry programs to those disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition.

    Most recently, Governor Cuomo outlined his agenda for 2019 which prioritizes the legalization of adult-use marijuana and establishment of a tax and regulate program. During his remarks, the Governor also expressed his full support for restorative justice provisions that would begin to address the many injustices of marijuana prohibition. With Democrats controlling both chambers of New York’s legislature, it’s likely Governor Cuomo will have the support he needs to deliver on his promise.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more information follow Empire State NORML on Facebook and Twitter and visit their website!

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