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LEGISLATION

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director January 17, 2018

    Today, Representative Barbara Lee of California along with over a dozen original co-sponsors have introduced the Marijuana Justice Act into the House of Representatives.

    “I’m proud to introduce the Marijuana Justice Act – bold, progressive legislation to address the legacy of racial bias in marijuana enforcement and to end the failed War on Drugs,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Today, we are asking Congress to turn the page on decades of unjust marijuana prohibition and forge a new path forward. It’s past time that we take decisive action to right the wrongs from decades of misguided policies.”

    This marks the first time that companion legislation has been introduced in both chambers of Congress to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

    This robust legislation not only removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, it also provides a path forward for the individuals and communities that have been most disproportionately targeted by our nation’s failed war on marijuana consumers. As you may be aware, throughout the country African Americans are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at nearly four times the rates of whites, yet both ethnicities consume marijuana at roughly the same rates.

    Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of The Marijuana Justice Act now

    The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 would:

    • Remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances making it legal at the federal level;
    • Incentivize states through federal funds to change their marijuana laws if marijuana in the state is illegal and it disproportionately arrests or incarcerates minority and poor people for marijuana-related offenses;
    • Automatically expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes;
    • Allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison to petition a court for a resentencing;
    • Create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs and allows the money to go towards the following programs:
      • Job training;
      • Reentry services;
      • Expenses related to the expungement of convictions;
      • Public libraries;
      • Community centers;
      • Programs and opportunities dedicated to youth; and
      • Health education programs.

    As you already know, the ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. It is time for federal lawmakers to acknowledge this reality. 

    So click here and send a message to your federal lawmakers now in support of The Marijuana Justice Act.

    After you send your letter so it will stay in their official records, click HERE to find your Representative’s office number and then call their Washington, DC office.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 12, 2018

    thumbs_upRepublican Gov. Phil Scott publicly announced at a news conference that he intends to sign legislation into law legalizing the use and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults. The Governor vetoed similar legislation last year.

    House Bill 511 eliminates existing civil penalties specific to the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, and also removes criminal penalties with regard to the private cultivation of six marijuana plants (two mature and up to four immature). Those who cultivate marijuana for their own personal use may possess at home the total quantity of their harvest.

    The measure also imposes new civil penalties for consuming cannabis while driving, and imposes additional penalties for those who operate a motor vehicle impaired with a minor in the vehicle.

    “We’ll take a look at it to make sure it’s technically correct, and then I’ll sign the bill,” Scott said during a Statehouse press conference yesterday. “This is a libertarian approach. I’ve said I’m not philosophically opposed to it. I know there are diverse opinions … as to whether we should move forward, but I still firmly believe that what you do in your own home should be your business, as long as it doesn’t affect someone else.”

    Vermont will be the first state to legislatively act to eliminate both criminal and civil penalties for personal marijuana possession and growing.

    Once signed, the new law will take effect July 1, 2018.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director December 20, 2017
    NORML Board Chair Steve Dillon with Nadler


    NORML Board Chair Steve Dillon with Rep. Jerry Nadler during the 2017 National NORML Lobby Day.

    During a House Democrats meeting on Wednesday morning, the caucus elected marijuana reform supporter Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) to be the party leader on the powerful Judiciary Committee.

    Rep. Nadler has earned an “A+” rating on the NORML Scorecard for his support of ending the federal prohibition of marijuana, positive votes when given the opportunity, and his co-sponsorship of legislation including the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act in the previous session of Congress.

    The current Chairman of the committee is Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), a longtime opponent of marijuana reform who has earned a “D” on the NORML scorecard for voting against reform amendments when given the opportunity. However, Rep. Goodlatte had announced earlier this year that he will not be running for reelection, which will leave a wide-open race on the Republican side who will be the top member in the next Congress.

    Given the political climate, in order to secure hearings on legislation that would end prohibition, it is essential that the next Chairman of the Judiciary be willing to address the issue.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director November 29, 2017
    Rick Steves with Illinois NORML's Ali Nagib

    Rick Steves with Illinois NORML’s Ali Nagib

    On Tuesday, travel radio and television host Rick Steves, a NORML Board Member, journeyed to Illinois to testify in support of marijuana legalization effort in the state legislature.

    “When you legalize marijuana, use does not go up, teen use does not go up, crime does not go up, what goes up ix tax revenue, what goes down is the black market,” Steves said. “Seventy thousand people are locked up in our country every year, 700,000 people are arrested, for possession of marijuana, not violent crimes. They’re not rich white guys, they’re poor people and they’re black people. It’s amazing that it’s happening in our country right now and there is just a way out of this.”

    Steves is well known for his public support of reform and has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy in support of outright legalization. During his press conference in Chicago, he was flanked by state lawmakers who have introduced the legislation. In their remarks, they laid out the economic realities of prohibition.

    “It is clear that prohibition doesn’t work and that by lifting cannabis restrictions we can encourage economic development in Illinois,” State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said. “We are carefully considering all aspects and potential impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis, including job growth.”

    “Legalizing cannabis will spur the creation of new small businesses and much-needed jobs,” State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) said. “We are leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity on the table by continuing the outdated status quo of prohibition.”

    A recent poll of Illinois voters shows that 66% support the outright legalization of marijuana, and 74% support an end to arrests and penalties for simple possession.

    You can watch the press conference by clicking here.

    Make sure to follow Illinois NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website: https://illinoisnorml.org/

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 20, 2017

    Legalize marijuanaProponents of a Michigan voter initiative effort to legalize and regulate the personal use and retail sale of cannabis today turned in more than 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot. Advocates must possess a total of 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters in order to place the initiative — the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act — on next year’s ballot.

    The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

    Proponents of the effort, The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, include members of the Marijuana Policy Project, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML, MI Legalize, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, and lawyers from the State Bar of Michigan Marijuana Law Section. Today’s press conference is archived on the Coalition’s Facebook page here.

    Advocates sought to place a similar measure on the Michigan ballot in 2016. That effort was ultimately turned back when lawmakers imposed and the courts upheld new rules limiting the time frame during which signatures could be collected.

    Marijuana law reform advocates are presently gathering signatures for voter-initiated efforts in Missouri and Utah. Proponents of a medical marijuana initiative in South Dakota have turned in their signatures and are awaiting a review by the Secretary of State’s office. A statewide initiative legalizing the use of medical marijuana in Oklahoma has already qualified for the 2018 electoral ballot.

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