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  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director September 11, 2018

    Lawmakers have removed language from pending federal legislation that sought to facilitate veterans’ access to medical cannabis in jurisdictions that regulate it.

    The decision to strip out the Veterans Equal Access Amendment flies in the face of the horrific medical realities that our nation’s heroes who are desperate to mitigate. This move thwarts the will of the majority of Americans who support medical marijuana and 81% of veterans who believe that the federal government should protect its therapeutic access. Further, by not creating protections for veterans, the Congress continues to view 22% of those who have worn the uniform as criminals.

    Under existing federal regulations, physicians affiliated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs are prohibited from filling out the necessary paperwork required in legal medical marijuana states. A budgetary amendment included in the Senate’s version the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill sought to end this prohibition. However, Congressional leaders this week elected to eliminate the provision during hearings to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the appropriations bill.

    Congressman Earl Blumenauer, the author of similar legislative language now pending in the House of Representatives, said “Denying veterans the care they need by the doctors they trust is shameful. The Senate passed this amendment. It has broad bipartisan support in the House. This should have been a no brainer. Yet, Republican leadership has once again stymied progress toward fair and equal treatment for our veterans. Their continued neglect of commonsense and the will of the American people is a disgrace.”

    Veteran and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, “Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country, and many come home dealing with visible and invisible wounds. To continue limiting their access to quality healthcare through the VA is a disservice to them and the sacrifices they’ve made.”

    The Veterans Cannabis Coalition released a statement saying “Every day that cannabis prohibition continues is a day a veteran dies unnecessarily. The Republican conferees on the House Appropriations Committee and House Republican leadership should be ashamed of this backroom deal that stripped the Veterans Equal Access amendment from this year’s MILCON-VA appropriations bill. This decision of Republican leaders flies in the face of science, compassion, and overwhelming public support. The Republican conference has steadfastly voted to send millions of other people’s sons and daughters to fight in endless wars while fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent the study of something that provides relief and healing to those injured in military service. Leadership can’t claim to care about veterans health and well-being while refusing to even discuss cannabis. Enough hypocrisy. We call on House Republicans to listen to the literally tens of thousands of veterans who have benefited from cannabis access, negotiate in good faith, and allow votes to take place.”

    “This move by Congressional leadership is egregious and constitutes a slap in the face to the heroes who put their lives on the line to defend our country,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. “Continuing to treat veterans who risked it all as criminals when they opt to utilize a safe and effective treatment option like cannabis is immoral and un-American.”

    Similar language was included by both chambers in the 2016 version of the funding bill, but was similarly stripped from the text in conference committee.

    Last week, Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) for the first time introduced stand-alone Senate legislation to expand medical cannabis access to military veterans. A recent American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate September 7, 2018

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

    U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced legislation this week, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions. The measure would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue recommendations and require the VA to research the benefits of marijuana. Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of the new bill. 

    Four U.S. House bills got new cosponsors this week, including the Marijuana Justice Act, bringing the total to 40 cosponsors, the Veterans Equal Access Act for a total of 28, the States Act, bringing the total to 29, and the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act for a total of 11.

    U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pushed for hemp legalization during the first Farm Bill conference committee meeting. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) also spoke in support.

    At the state level, Mississippi activists will begin collecting signatures next week for a proposed 2020 medical cannabis ballot measure. California lawmakers approved legislation to create a grant program to support municipal marijuana industry equity programs, to allow tax-free donations of medical cannabis to patients and to allow provisional licensing for marijuana businesses.

    At a more local level, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania City Council is considering a marijuana decriminalization proposal. So was the Gary, Indiana Common Council before the measure was narrowly defeated. A Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin committee approved a marijuana legalization advisory question for the Spring 2019 ballot. And the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Council will consider a proposal to lower marijuana penalties next week that is also supported by the police chief.

    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

    Decriminalize Cannabis: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is sponsoring the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

    Click here to email your senators in support of this important legislation

    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. The bill was approved by the Senate last week.

    Update: AB 1793 awaits action from Governor Brown.

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

    Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on school grounds to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.

    Update: After failing to gain enough votes for passage in the Assembly on 8/23, a motion to reconsider was granted and on 8/27, SB 1127 was approved by the Assembly with a 42-29 vote. The bill now awaits action from Governor Brown.

    CA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of allowing students’ medical marijuana at school

    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 full Assembly with a 65-2 vote on 8/29. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence since it was amended in the Assembly. SB 829 is being heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Friday 8/31, and then will go to the Senate floor for a vote.

    CA resident? Email your senators in support of supporting compassionate care programs

    That’s all for this week!

  • by NORML September 5, 2018

    Washington, DC: Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced legislation, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions.

    Under existing regulations, VA doctors are not permitted to fill out the mandatory paperwork necessary to recommend cannabis therapy in those 31 states that regulate it. Passage of The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act ends this discrimination against veterans and prevents sanctions against VA doctors who wish to recommend medical cannabis treatment to their patients.

    Send a message in support of expanding access NOW!

    “The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would provide crucial medical and civil protections for the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve this country. It is unconscionable that these brave individuals who protect our nation’s freedoms would be treated as criminals when they return home just for treating their medical ailments with a safe and effective option,” said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. “We applaud and appreciate the leadership by Senators Schatz and Nelson in putting forward this legislation.”

    “Historically, veteran and military communities have long been at the forefront of American social change, catalyzing the widespread acceptance of evolving cultural norms and perceptions surrounding racial, gender, and sexual equality. The therapeutic use of cannabis by veterans follows this trend and members of Congress should follow their lead and pass the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act,” Strekal concluded.

    “Federal law prohibits VA doctors from prescribing or recommending medical marijuana to veterans,” said Senator Bill Nelson. “This legislation will allow veterans in Florida and elsewhere the same access to legitimately prescribed medication, just as any other patient in those 31 states would have.”

    “In the 31 states where medical marijuana is legal, patients and doctors are able to see if marijuana helps with pain management. Our veterans deserve to have that same chance,” Senator Schatz said. “This bill does right by our veterans, and it can also shed light on how medical marijuana can help with the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

    You can read NORML’s Fact Sheet on Marijuana and Veterans Issues HERE.

    A recent American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition. A 2017 review of over 10,000 studies by the National Academy of Sciences concluded, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective for the treatment for chronic pain in adults.”

    Similar legislation, The Veterans Equal Access Act (HR 1820) is pending in the House.

    Send a message in support of expanding access NOW!

  • by NORML

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is pleased to endorse Missouri’s Amendment 2, which permits patients, at the discretion of a physician, to obtain cannabis and cannabis-infused products from licensed facilities.

    The amendment is one of three competing ballot measures that seek to regulate medical cannabis use in Missouri. Of the three, NORML believes that Amendment 2 is written in a manner that best provides for the needs of patients and their physicians, and is the measure most likely to withstand scrutiny from lawmakers.

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    “This is a patient-centered proposal that puts power in the hands of state-licensed physicians and their patients, not politicians or bureaucrats. Passage of Amendment 2 will create a robust statewide system for production and sale of medical cannabis,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Of the three proposals on the ballot this fall, we believe that Amendment 2 is the clear choice for voters.”

    “The Amendment 2 campaign appreciates NORML’s endorsement, as well as many others we have received, including from the Missouri Epilepsy Foundation and Senator Claire McCaskill,” said Dan Viets, Board President of New Approach Missouri – the grassroots group that is sponsoring Amendment 2, and a member of NORML’s Board of Directors.

    If passed by voters this fall, Missouri would become the 32nd state to legalize and regulate patients’ access to medical marijuana.

    Follow New Approach Missouri on: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    Please consider making a contribution to support Question 2 by clicking here. 

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate August 31, 2018

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

    This week, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester introduced the Clean Slate Act, HR 6669, along with 22 original cosponsors, to seal the records for marijuana charges one year after the sentence is completed.

    At the state level, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed an industrial hemp bill into law, and he also signed legislation allowing people prescribed opioids to use medical cannabis instead. Similarly, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) signed legislation to expunge some marijuana convictions, as well as a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

    New Jersey lawmakers agreed on key details for a pending marijuana legalization bill that could be voted on next month, with more provisions yet to be determined. Separately, the NJ attorney general released guidance to municipal prosecutors saying that while they may not adopt categorical marijuana decriminalization policies, they may use their discretion about whether or not to pursue individual cannabis cases.

    The Connecticut legislature’s Regulations Review Committee unanimously voted to add intractable headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy and other disorders as medical cannabis qualifying conditions.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a series of 15 “listening sessions” on marijuana legalization that will be held across the state. The first one will take place on Wednesday, September 5 in Albany, NY. Find a session near you and register to attend here. Separately, New York City police will implement a relaxed marijuana enforcement policy starting this Saturday.

    A coalition of Oregon activists is preparing a 2019 push to allow marijuana social use areas in the state. They will support a bill in the legislature and will also pursue a ballot measure if lawmakers don’t act.

    At a more local level, Denver, Colorado regulators granted the city’s second marijuana social use area license to a vaping bar and lounge set to open this fall. The City Council also approved a plan to use increased marijuana taxes to fund affordable housing.

    The Louisville, Kentucky Metro Council is considering a proposal to make marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority in Jefferson County. The Dayton, Ohio City Commission voted to place an advisory question on the November ballot asking voters if they support decriminalizing marijuana. The Ashland, Wisconsin City Council approved a resolution calling on state lawmakers to legalize marijuana and medical cannabis. A Racine, Wisconsin City Council committee discussed, but deferred action on, a proposal to order police to issue citations for first-time marijuana offenses instead of applying state charges.

    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

    In honor of International Overdose Awareness Day today, please join us as NORML chapters around the country take action in highlighting the positive role that marijuana legalization can play in combating America’s opioid crisis.

    Send an email to your members of Congress urging them to acknowledge the role of cannabis in combating the prescription drug overdose epidemic.

    Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    House Bill 20-178 would end cannabis prohibition for adults over 21 and create a system of taxed and regulated sales. It would also allow medical marijuana and industrial hemp. The bill was already approved by the House earlier this month.

    Update: On 8/30, HB 20-178 was unanimously passed by the Senate. The bill now awaits action from Governor Ralph Torres (R).

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

    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. The bill was approved by the Senate last week.

    Update: AB 1793 awaits action from Governor Brown.

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

    Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on school grounds to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.

    Update: After failing to gain enough votes for passage in the Assembly on 8/23, a motion to reconsider was granted and on 8/27, SB 1127 was approved by the Assembly with a 42-29 vote. The bill now awaits action from Governor Brown.

    CA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of allowing students’ medical marijuana at school

    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 full Assembly with a 65-2 vote on 8/29. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence since it was amended in the Assembly. SB 829 is being heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Friday 8/31, and then will go to the Senate floor for a vote.

    CA resident? Email your senators in support of supporting compassionate care programs

    That’s all for this week!

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