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GOVERNMENT

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator November 23, 2018

    Legalize MarijuanaWelcome to the Thanksgiving edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup! I hope everyone had a happy and festive Turkey Day!

    In the U.S. Senate this week, it was announced that Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chair of the Judiciary Committee and avid prohibitionist, is stepping down from his position. As Chairmain, he refused to hold any hearings or permit votes on marijuana legislation.

    At the state level, Michigan’s new legalization law goes into effect on December 6, which means adults can legally possess and grow marijuana for personal use. And Massachusetts dispensaries began selling adult use marijuana this past Tuesday.

    Ned Lamont (D), Connecticut’s soon to be Governor, stated that marijuana legalization is one of his priorities for 2019. The president of the Senate supports this as well. Democratic and Republican lawmakers think legalization is likely next year. And The Senate president in Vermont said he expects a bill regulating marijuana sales to be introduced shortly after the new year.

    At a more local level, the attorney general of Washington, DC said he supports regulating marijuana sales if and when the congressional rider blocking the city’s ability to do so is removed.

    People in Jackson County, Missouri will no longer be pursued by the county prosecutor in most instances of marijuana possession. Marijuana cases in Kalamazoo County, Michigan are also being dismissed.

    Door County in Wisconsin was considering a proposal to put marijuana advisory questions on the April 2019 ballot, but it was rejected.

    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.

    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

    New Jersey

    S2703 seeks 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.

    Update: S2703 will be heard in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Monday 11/26 at 10am.

    NJ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of this effort

    Legislation is pending, S 10, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

    The measure would increase the number of licenses the Department of Health can issue to new providers in order to meet New Jersey’s increased patient demand.

    Update: S10 will be heard in the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Monday 11/26 at 10am.

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

    Legislation is pending, S2426 and A3740, to further expand the state’s medical marijuana law.

    The measures provide doctors the discretion to recommend medical marijuana to any patient for whom they believe it will provide a benefit.

    Update: S2426 will be heard in the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Monday 11/26 at 10am.

    NJ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of letting doctors, not politicians, decide what’s best for their patients

  • by NORML November 16, 2018

    One of the US Senate’s leading marijuana prohibitionists, Iowa Republican Charles Grassley, will no longer be heading the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 116th Congress.

    Representative Grassley announced today that he is stepping down as Chair of the Committee. As Chair, Grassley refused to hold any hearings or votes on marijuana-related legislation, including bipartisan legislative efforts like the STATES Act. Virtually all Senate legislation specific to marijuana policy must pass through the Judiciary Committee.

    Representative Grassley received a D- grade on NORML’s 2018 Congressional Scorecard.

    Next in line to Chair the Committee is Republican Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who received a C grade from NORML.

    “As the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham will have to make a choice when it comes to marijuana,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Will he continue to perpetuate the failed policy of federal criminalization which resulted in over 659,000 Americans being handcuffed in 2017 alone, or will he be open to reform in a way that reflects the rapidly evolving nature of cannabis policy in the majority of states?”

    Representative Grassley’s decision to step down follows the retirement of House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and the failed re-election bid of House Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX) – both of whom similarly used their powers as Chair to stifle any legislative debate on marijuana policy.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator

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

    US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he guarantees that the prohibition on hemp will be lifted as a part of the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill.

    Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) has introduced a series of bills aimed at addressing the therapeutic use of marijuana among veterans.

    James McGovern (D-MA), who will be the new U.S. House Rules Committee Chairman next year, is expected to allow floor debates and votes on marijuana amendments, “unlike his predecessors.”

    At the state level, Utah lawmakers are set to consider a compromise medical cannabis bill during a special session which convenes December 3.

    The Assembly speaker and Senate president in New Jersey said they expect committee votes on legalizing adult use marijuana soon after Thanksgiving. And one state senator who previously opposed ending prohibition is now showing support.

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is expected to introduce a marijuana legalization measure after the start of the 2019 legislative session. One New York state senator said she thinks the state will legalize marijuana through the 2019 budget process.

    Massachusetts recreational marijuana sales could begin as soon as Sunday.

    The taxation and regulation subcommittee of the marijuana legalization study committee in Vermont intends to recommend a 26% or 27% tax rate on retail sales.

    An Indiana state senator plans to file several marijuana reform bills, including decriminalization and medical marijuana legislation. A North Dakota representative plans to file a marijuana decriminalization bill. A Wisconsin state senator also plans to introduce a bill in 2019 to regulate marijuana sales.

    Tim Walz (D), Minnesota’s soon to be governor, as well as the incoming speaker of the House shared that the state will consider regulating marijuana in 2019.

    At a more local level, the Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor will stop pursuing a majority of marijuana possession cases. Similarly, Albany County, New York’s district attorney said that starting on December 1, he will no longer prosecute minor marijuana possession cases.

    Muskegon County, Michigan’s prosecutor is dropping some pending marijuana cases since legalization was approved, and is also thinking about expunging past convictions. Separately, some Michigan municipalities are already moving to opt out of allowing legal marijuana sales, at least temporarily.

    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.

    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

    Texas

    House Bill 63 has been pre-filed by Rep. Joe Moody that seeks to replace current criminal sanctions for marijuana possession with a civil penalty, punishable by a fine only with no jail or criminal record.

    TX resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization

    Senate Bill 90 has been pre-filed by Sen. Jose Menendez that seeks to expand the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) and make it more inclusive and compassionate for patients.

    TX resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical cannabis expansion

    Virginia

    Senator Adam Ebbin filed Senate Bill 997, seeking to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana in Virginia.

    If passed, the bill would provide a civil penalty of no more than $50 for a first violation, $100 for a second violation, and $250 for a third or subsequent violation. The bill also requires that the suspended sentence substance abuse screening provisions and driver’s license suspension provisions apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a juvenile.

    VA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization

  • by Madisen Saglibene, Executive Director of Las Vegas NORML November 14, 2018

    Members of the Nevada NORML chapters, alongside representatives from Denver NORML, Arizona NORML and the National NORML Board of Directors, participated in Las Vegas’ first Business-to-Consumer Cannabis conference this weekend at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

    The Herban Expo opened its doors Friday as a free convention available to the public. While there are a vast array of emerging expos and shows within the cannabis space, Herban Expo’s unique focus on consumers and free entry certainly set it apart. With nearly 50 vendors from across Nevada regions and nationwide, the show floor remained a steady source of valuable education and networking all weekend.

    It was a great honor that Las Vegas NORML was asked to organize the panels and educational content, for all three days on the main stage. The Las Vegas NORML stage ended up featuring almost 30 panels and presentations, composed of over 60 experts! The feedback from attendees regarding their experiences were overwhelmingly positive. Topics of panels included, “CannaParents”, Criminal Justice Reform, Cannabis is Medicine, Social Use Lounges, How to Start a Cannabis Support Business, and more.

    As part of NORML’s call to action over the weekend, members from the various chapters led efforts to collect letters to Congress in support of marijuana reform. Though the goal for the weekend was 500, nearly 600 letters were signed to demonstrate support for the STATES Act, SAFE Banking Act, the Marijuana Data Collection Act and expansion for Veterans’ Access! Attendees of the event were eager to participate in the letter writing campaign and found it to be a great opportunity to familiarize themselves with current federal legislation.

    This past weekend hundreds of marijuana related businesses arrived early in Las Vegas for MJ BizCon, the largest Marijuana conference to hit the states, but entry costs nearly $700 for the general public. Herban Expo will return again in 2019 and NORML chapters are excited to remain an active part in the educational aspects in order to bring consumers the most valuable experience possible. 

    More about this year’s expo and upcoming info for future events can be found at www.HerbanExpo.com. Thank you everyone that attended! See you in 2019! Follow Las Vegas and Nevada NORML on Instagram (@lasvegasNORML & @NevadaNORML) for more information about upcoming events.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director

    Just two days after Veteran’s Day, Congressman Seth Moulton has introduced a series of bills aimed at addressing the therapeutic use of marijuana among veterans.

    Post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and other medical issues can be a matter of life or death. Moreover, failure of VA policy to allow physicians to openly talk about cannabis or recommend it has a deleterious effect on the doctor-patient relationship and on the well-being of our veterans.

    While Rep. Moulton’s bills do not address the core issue of the inability for VA doctors to fill out state-legal medical marijuana recommendations it does address the uncertainty of VA policy when it comes to a veteran’s ability to have an honest conversation with their doctor.

    The three bills are as follows:

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Policy for Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018. This bill would amend and codify a medicinal cannabis policy the VA has but is not widely disbursed. As more veterans turn to medicinal cannabis to more effectively treat their various service- and non-service related injuries, the relationship with their healthcare providers is becoming ever more important. The VA has a policy protecting a veteran’s benefits if they discuss their medicinal cannabis use with their health care provider; however, not all healthcare providers respond in a standard way and veterans still fear and experience repercussions of some kind. This bill clarifies and codifies patients’ and healthcare providers’ roles and responsibilities in incorporating medicinal cannabis into a patient’s treatment plan and requires the policy to be prominently posted in all VA facilities.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Survey of Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018. This bill would have the VA conduct a nation-wide survey of all veterans and VA healthcare providers to learn about how veterans are using medicinal cannabis. From the American Legion’s survey on medicinal cannabis, “22 percent of veterans stated they are currently using cannabis to treat a medical condition and 40 percent of caregivers stated they know a veteran who is using medical cannabis to alleviate a medical condition.” With the growing use of medicinal cannabis among veterans, the VA needs a better understanding of what veterans are doing to self-medicate various conditions.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Medicinal Cannabis Education Act of 2018. This bill would partner the VA with medical universities who have incorporated medicinal cannabis education into their curriculum to develop continuing education programs for primary healthcare providers.

    Upon introduction, Rep Moulton said “Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers. Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana – including our veterans. We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible. We also have an obligation to make sure our veterans are getting the best healthcare in the world. We have a long road ahead of us until medicinal cannabis is fully researched and legal but we can take a few steps now to start figuring that out. As someone who still receives healthcare from the VA, I see no reason why veterans healthcare should be behind the eight ball. These bills are an important first step towards finding out what can be most successful as treatment options evolve and change.”

    While these bills would make commendable advances if passed by Congress, they fail to include the fix most needed of VA policy, which would be to allow VA doctors to fill out the necessary state-legal medical marijuana recommendation form in the 33 states that now have laws governing the therapeutic use of cannabis.

    There are two pieces of legislation currently pending which would address that currently pending in the House and Senate. They are The Veterans Equal Access Act in the House carried by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act in the Senate carried by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

    You can contact your federal lawmakers in support of medicinal cannabis policy reform to support veterans by clicking here.

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