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SOCIETY

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 20, 2019

    A widely reported study appearing today in the British journal The Lancet alleges that an estimated 30 to 50 percent of psychosis cases in Europe are due to cannabis exposure, and that exposure to elevated levels of THC increases this risk.

    NORML has previously written on the data showing a multi-directional association between cannabis and psychiatric illnesses, and we have cautioned that those predisposed to psychosis or other disorders may be at higher risk for adverse events.

    That said, it remains premature at best, and sensational at worst to claim that a causal relationship exists between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders on the basis of this new paper. That is because, by the observational nature of its design, this study at best can only demonstrate a correlation.

    Nonetheless, despite this limitation, the authors boldly “assume causality.” Given the fact that such a cause-and-effect relationship remains unproven and there as of yet exists no consensus among experts that such causation exists, their assumption is, at best, highly questionable.

    Moreover, it is well established that those with psychiatric illness typically use all intoxicants at greater rates than do the general public, so the fact that those admitted to institutions for first-episode psychosis are more likely to consume cannabis than are those in the general population is hardly surprising. But it is not evidence that marijuana in any way causes the condition. Rather, this association may exist because many psychiatric patients are self-medicating with cannabis. Or, this relationship may persist because many people predisposed to psychosis are similarly predisposed to also using cannabis — a theory that is supported by many experts in the field.

    Perhaps most importantly, the fact that cannabis has been used by various populations for decades at disparate rates, yet rates of psychosis and other psychiatric disorders have generally remained static over this same period of time, strongly argues against a direct causal relationship.

    Finally, authors’ presumptions specific to the supposed disparate effects of cannabis based upon THC potency are also highly questionable. This is because subjects in the study self-reported their cannabis use. As a result, authors had no ability to verify the THC content of the marijuana consumed by participants. Further, the cannabis consumed by subjects in the study was largely obtained via black market channels — leaving the users equally in the dark with regard to its actual cannabinoid content.

    Nonetheless, despite these limitations, the concerns raised in this paper and others ought to be taken seriously, and they provide an argument in favor of greater regulation of the plant so that it can be better kept out of the hands of young people and those who may be at higher risk for an adverse reaction. But maintaining cannabis prohibition, unfortunately, achieves neither result. Placed in this context, these latest scare-mongering claims — even if taken at face value — do little to advance arguments in favor of tightening prohibition, and provides ample ammunition to wage for its repeal.

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate

    In some big news out of New Jersey, several marijuana reform bills have been voted out of their committees and are awaiting floor votes.

    Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497 have both passed out of their committees and are set to be voted on as early as Monday, March 25th. These bills would legalize the personal possession of one ounce or less of cannabis and would regulate and tax the adult-use and retail sale. Some highlights of this landmark legislation are-

    • Expedited expungement of past misdemeanor marijuana convictions
    • Taxing marijuana sales at three-percent, which will be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist
    • Incentives to promote socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry

    Governor Phil Murphy, one of the driving forces of marijuana legalization in the state since taking office in January, has already signaled his intent to sign a legalization bill once it gets to his desk. However, the margins in the New Jersey State Legislature are still very close, with a slight majority of the legislators being in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult-use in the state. With several state lawmakers still on the fence about legalization, input from residents of New Jersey is of paramount importance. Legalizing marijuana would result in dozens of positive impacts for New Jerseyans and cannot happen without the support of reform-minded residents who are committed to personal freedom in New Jersey.

    Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of legalizing marijuana in the Garden State.

     

    Other legislation, Senate Bill 3205 and Assembly Bill A4498 have both passed out of their committees and are awaiting scheduled votes. These bills would allow for the expedited expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions after marijuana legalization is signed into law in New Jersey. It reduces the wait time for expungement and expands the list of convictions eligible for expungement upon marijuana legalization in the state.

    Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of this effort.

     

    Separate legislation, Senate Bill S10 and Assembly Bill A10 have both passed out of their committees and are awaiting scheduled votes. These bills would expand the state’s medical marijuana program to allow for greater accessibility and protections for qualified patients. It increases the amount of medical cannabis a qualified patient is legally allowed to purchase and possess, protects patients from losing their jobs or custody of their children simply because of their status as a medical patient, and phases out retail sales taxes on medical marijuana to make the program more affordable for patients.

    Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of this effort.

     

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  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director March 19, 2019

    Chief Petitioners Madeline Martinez, Leia Flynn, and Angela Bacca filed a ballot measure to be known as “The Legalization Justice Act of 2020” at the Oregon State Capitol on Monday, March 18. All three women are longtime West Coast cannabis advocates.

    Madeline MartinezMadeline Martinez is the executive director of Oregon NORML and the only Latina member of the board of directors of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). She generated international headlines when she opened the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in 2009, the nation’s first public-facing cannabis consumption lounge.

    “This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are still marginalized for their cannabis use, despite legalization,” said Martinez.

    Leia Flynn is a legal assistant at a firm that works with cannabis businesses and the owner of Flight Lounge, a members-only private cafe allowed under the City of Portland’s social consumption guidelines. A former medical cannabis caregiver and member of Oregon Green Free, she has put her voice out into the public in order to create safe spaces for cannabis consumers.

    “We are in a situation where we have legalized it and anyone over the age of 21 can purchase it, but you cannot smoke it anywhere unless you own your home,” Flynn says. “That is discrimination.”

    Angela Bacca is a Portland-based writer and editor who has been covering the national cannabis industry for over 10 years. Having witnessed the early days of medical cannabis caregiving in California as a patient living with Crohn’s Disease, Bacca feels it is imperative to protect patients’ rights to botanical medicine.

    “I would sum up our policy as ‘do the right thing’. Let’s create legal cannabis policy that acknowledges both science and reality,” Bacca says.

    Background

    The Oregon Justice League does not believe the State of Oregon has implemented Measure 91 in the spirit under which the law was passed. The OJL seeks to right these wrongs as well as provide a model for other states to implement a more just version of cannabis legalization.

    Legalization was sold to Oregon citizens as a way to grow, develop and sustain our small business economies, end the discrimination of citizens based on their interactions with the cannabis plant and uphold, protect and ensure the right of medical cannabis patients to safe botanical access.

    Therefore, the Legalization Justice Act of 2020 would make the following changes to Oregon law.

    Summary of language:

    Tax Revenues: Redistribute recreational cannabis taxes in a way that promotes the social justice goals of cannabis legalization. Once passed, the LJA would designate 25 percent of tax revenues to funding community development and micro-lending initiatives that promote small businesses in minority and underserved communities disproportionately affected by the failed War on Drugs. An additional 25 percent would be designated to subsidize medical cannabis purchases for low-income patients with qualifying conditions under the OMMP who have lost their access to direct caregiving from growers. The remaining 50 percent can continue to be used at the state’s discretion.

    Changes to Oregon Medical Marijuana Program: Recognizing that cannabis as a botanical substance is recommended, not prescribed, a patient’s right to choose botanical cannabis in their medical care in consultation with a doctor must not be impeded. Patients with incurable or chronic illnesses must be allowed by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program to be issued a lifetime card if a qualifying physician recommends their cannabis use. Patients awaiting an organ donation cannot be removed from a transplant waiting list for using cannabis. The JA expands qualifying physicians under the OMMP to naturopaths, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners.

    Producers of recreational or medical cannabis may enter into caregiving relationships with qualifying patients and provide medicine directly. The value of the product can be deducted from state cannabis excise taxes if the patient qualifies for low-income subsidization.

    Social Consumption Spaces: Legalize and regulate cannabis social consumption cafes in a fashion that removes the discriminatory provision under the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act so that cannabis users can inhale inside. This section does the following (1) The Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act must be amended to allow smoking and vaporization of cannabis indoors. (2) Directs the OLCC to regulate and oversee the licensing and regulation of cannabis lounges. (3) Allows existing cannabis dispensaries to add a social consumption space. (4) Allows for OLCC licensed farms to host tours and tastings, as regulated by the OLCC. (5) Directs the OLCC to license and regulate cannabis social consumption spaces at public events. Allows delivery of cannabis to temporary residents and residents of municipalities that have banned cannabis dispensing storefronts.

    Employment Protection: Create employment protections under the law to protect off-the-job cannabis use and prevent conceptually flawed drug testing from being used to discriminate against cannabis consumers.

    Protect Oregon’s Craft Cannabis Community: Direct the state to directly advocate to the federal government for its craft cannabis community, specifically export of product out of Oregon’s borders.

    For more information, follow Oregon NORML on Twitter.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator March 15, 2019

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

    U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has reintroduced H.R. 1647, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which expands medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans. Additionally, Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act to explicitly bar federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a cannabis consumer, or due to testing positive for marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture held a hemp listening session this week as regulators work to establish rules and regulations for production.

    At the state level, activists in Idaho have begun efforts to qualify a medical cannabis and hemp ballot initiative for the 2020 ballot.

    Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) signed legislation into law that would strengthen and clarify medical cannabis patient protections.

    After months of negotiation, Governor Murphy of New Jersey and state legislators have reached a deal on what will be included in upcoming legislation to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana in the state of New Jersey. Some highlights include expedited expungement for past misdemeanor marijuana convictions, a three-percent tax to be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist, and provisions to incentivize socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry.

    Alaska became the first state to permit on-site adult use cannabis consumption, as Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer (R) signed off on the final regulations this week.

    The proposed budget plan in both the New York state Senate and Assembly include marijuana legalization and regulation.

    Members of Minnesota’s Senate Judiciary Committee defeated a legalization bill this week.

    At a more local level, the Cocoa Beach, Florida city council voted 3-2 in favor of a proposal to decriminalize up to 20 grams of cannabis possession. And the prosecutor for Hennepin County, Minnesota announced that he will no longer charge individuals for selling or possessing up to 100 grams of cannabis (about 3.5 ounces).

    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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Actions to Take

    Federal

    End Prohibition: 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.

    Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of this important legislation

    Arkansas

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1518, to remove hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the state’s list of controlled substances.

    Update: HB 1518 was approved by the Senate on 3/13 by a 32-2 vote. The bill will now be transmitted to the governor.

    AR resident? Click here to email your governor in support of removing hemp-derived CBD as a controlled substance

    California

    Senate Bill 34 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 34 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on 3/20 at 9:30am in room 112.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of compassionate care programs

    Colorado

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 19-1234, to allow licensed marijuana businesses to deliver both medical and adult use marijuana to private residences.

    The measure would establish a licensing system for such delivery services and also require training for delivery permit holders.

    CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis delivery services

    Connecticut

    Lawmakers in Connecticut have introduced a package of bills specific to legalizing and regulating the use and sale of marijuana by adults, and facilitating equity in the industry.

    Senate Bill 1085 permits those age 21 and over to purchase and possess up to one and one half ounces of marijuana. The measure would also allow those with past marijuana possession convictions to petition the court to have their record expunged.

    Separately, House Bill 7371 would establish a regulatory framework for the licensed retail sale of adult use marijuana.

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

    Florida

    Senate Bill 182 would re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

    Update: SB 182 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/13 by a 101-11 vote. The bill will now be transmitted to the governor.

    FL resident? Click here to email your governor in support of repealing the ban on smoking

    Hawaii

    Senate Bill 1353 seeks to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 1352 was heard and unanimously approved by the House Committee on Agriculture on 3/13.

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

    Louisiana

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 59, to reduce marijuana possession penalties for first time offenders.

    The measure removes the threat of jail time for first-time offenders who possess no more than 14 grams of marijuana (about half an ounce).

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

    Maryland

    Legislation is pending, HB 33 / SB 893, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    Update: SB 893 was approved by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on 3/13.

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

    Minnesota

    Legislation is pending, HF 766 / SF 1070, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

    The measure would:

    • Authorize each dispensary to open four additional locations in specified areas throughout the state
    • Allow specific formulations of medical cannabis to be administered to qualified patients on school grounds

    Update: HF 766 was heard by the House Commerce Committee on 3/12.

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

    Missouri

    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.

    Update: HB 341 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/13 by a voice vote, and will now be transmitted to the Senate.

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

    Montana

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 176, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 176 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on 3/21 at 3:00pm in room 137.

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

    North Carolina

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 168, to expand the state’s medical CBD exemption law.

    The measure expands the pool of individuals eligible for a medical CBD exemption to include those diagnosed with autism, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and Mitochondrial disease.

    Update: S168 was heard and approved by the Healthcare Committee on 3/13.

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

    Nevada

    Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 192, to allow individuals to get their records vacated for offenses that are no longer a crime in Nevada.

    Update: AB 192 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on 3/19 at 8:00am.

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

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 481, 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.

    Update: HB 481 was heard by the House Ways and Means Committee on 3/14 at 11am. The committee will hold a work session on the bill on 3/18 at 1:00pm in Legislative Office Building 202.

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

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 175, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

    The measure would give doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe from its therapeutic use.

    Update: SB 175 was heard by the Health and Human Services Committee on 3/12.

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

    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.

    Update: HB 459 was unanimously approved by the House Environment and Agriculture Committee on 3/11.

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

    New Jersey

    Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497: The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act would regulate adult use marijuana sales and also provide for the expungement of certain past records.

    Update: S. 2703 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/18, and A. 4497 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18.

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

    S. 3205 / A. 4498, would make more crimes eligible for expungement — including offenses involving controlled dangerous substances — and cut the wait time down to five years. It also includes a “clean slate” process that will wipe away all offenses at once for anyone who has a clean record for 10 years after their last offense. Many more serious crimes would not be eligible.

    Update: S. 3205 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/18, and A. 4498 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18.

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

    Senate Bill 10 and Assembly Bill 10 seek to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis.

    The measure facilitates the expansion of additional medical cannabis growers and providers, while also expanding the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. It further expands the pool of licensed health professional who may recommend medical cannabis, and shields registered patients from employment discrimination and the loss of child custody. It also phases out retail sales taxes on medical cannabis, amongst other changes.

    Update: A. 10 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18.

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

    New Mexico

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 356, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.

    A separate proposal is also pending to permit adult use marijuana sales, Senate Bill 577, with retail stores being regulated and operated by the state government as opposed to being privately operated.

    Update: HB 356 was approved by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 3/9 by a 5-2 vote.

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

    Senate Bill 406:

    • Allows medical practitioners to recommend medical cannabis for several new conditions, including PTSD, Parkinson’s, and severe chronic pain;
    • Prohibits employers from taking adverse action on an employee due to a positive drug test result or their status as a patient
    • Allows primary caregivers to obtain a license to grow medical cannabis;
    • Removes medical cannabis use as a violation of probation or parole;
    • Protects patients who require organ transplants

    Update: SB 406 is scheduled for a hearing in the House State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee on 3/11.

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

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

    Update: SB 204 was heard and approved by the House Education Committee on 3/9. The bill was then unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on 3/11, and now heads to the governor’s desk.

    NM resident? Click here to email your governor in support of allowing medical cannabis for patients at school

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 477, to protect the rights of parents and guardians who participate in the state’s medical cannabis access program.

    The measure states that an individual’s status as a medical cannabis patient “shall not in itself constitute grounds for intervention, removal or placement into state custody of a child in that individual’s care.”

    Update: SB 477 was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/11.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of parental protections

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 581, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 581 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 3/10, and will now be transmitted to the governor.

    NM resident? Click here to email your governor in support of industrial hemp production

    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.

    Update: HB 1349 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on 3/22 at 8:30am.

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

    Oklahoma

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 2614, to amend the possession penalties for individuals who use cannabis for a qualifying condition, but are not in possession of a medical marijuana identification card.

    The measure would reduce the penalty for this offense from a criminal misdemeanor to a citation, punishable by a maximum fine of $400.

    Update: HB 2614 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/12, and now heads to the Senate.

    OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of amending medical marijuana possession penalties

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 305, to protect registered medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination.

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

    Update: SB 305 was approved by the Senate by a 35-12 vote on 3/14, and will now be transmitted to the House.

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

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 868 / House Bill 2628, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 2628 was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on 3/12, and will now be transmitted to the Senate.

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

    South Carolina

    H. 3660 / S. 366: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act would regulate medical cannabis distribution and access, but it prohibits the inhalation or smoking of herbal medical cannabis.

    Update: S. 366 was heard in a Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee on 3/13, and is scheduled for another hearing in the subcommittee on 3/20 at 9:30am in Gressette Room 207.

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

    Tennessee

    Legislation is pending, SB 357 / HB 844, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 844 was approved by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on 3/13.

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

    Utah

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 431, to allow those with certain misdemeanor cannabis convictions to have their records automatically expunged.

    Update: HB 431 was heard and approved by the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee on 3/11. The bill was then approved by the Senate and will now be transmitted to the governor.

    UT resident? Click here to email your governor in support of expungement

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 161, that would strengthen protections for medical cannabis patients, and make other technical changes to the state’s nascent medical cannabis access program.

    The proposed changes:

    • Provide certain employment protection for a state or political subdivision employee who declines to participate in a job duty required by the state’s medical cannabis laws;
    • Repeal a provision allowing courts to discriminate against a parent based solely upon their lawful use of medical cannabis during a custody proceeding; and
    • Amend the decriminalization provision to include protections for parents and legal guardians of certain minor patients.

    Update: SB 161 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/12, and will now be transmitted to the governor.

    UT resident? Click here to email your governor in support of expanded medical patient protections

    Vermont

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 58, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: S. 58 was heard by the Senate Committee on Finance on 3/13, but no action was taken on the bill yet.

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

    Washington

    Legislation is pending, SB 5605 / HB 1500, to allow individuals with prior misdemeanor cannabis convictions to apply to the sentencing court to have their record vacated.

    Update: SB 5605 was approved by the Senate on 3/11 by a 29-19 vote. The bill will now be transmitted to the House.

    WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of vacating past records

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 5276, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 5276 was approved by the Senate on 3/12, and now heads to the House.

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

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator March 1, 2019

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

    In Congress this week Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), along with Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ro Khanna (D-CA), introduced The Marijuana Justice Act of 2019, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and incentivize states to end the racially disparate criminalization of marijuana consumers.

    At the state level, North Dakota state Rep. Roers Jones, who sponsored the recently defeated decriminalization bill, is trying to get her language inserted as a part of separate legislation.

    As New Jersey lawmakers and Governor Phil Murphy continue to work out details of a marijuana legalization bill, two anti-legalization lawmakers in the state introduced a proposal that would let the voters decide on the issue with a 2020 ballot question.

    Activists in Missouri gathered at the state capital alongside Missouri NORML chapters earlier this week for their second lobby day of the session!

    At a more local level, San Francisco County became the nation’s first county to complete an automatic expungement process, as the District Attorney expunged the conviction records of over 9,600 individuals in total for offenses that are no longer a crime in California.

    Denver, Colorado’s marijuana social use law is here to stay, as the city council voted this week to remove the “sunset” provision which made it a temporary four year program.

    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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Actions to Take

    Federal

    End Prohibition: 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.

    Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of this important legislation

    Arkansas

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 440, to prohibit the availability of cannabis-infused food and drink products for qualified patients.

    Update: SB 440 was heard by the Senate Agriculture, Forestry & Economic Development Committee, but no action has been taken yet.

    AR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in opposition to a ban on edibles

    Colorado

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

    Update: SB 19-013 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health & Insurance Committee for 3/6/2019 at 1:30pm, room 0107.

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

    Update: HB 19-1028 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee at 1:30pm on 3/14/2019, Room LSB-B.

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

    Georgia

    House Bill 324 seeks 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.

    Update: The House Regulated Industries Low Thc Oil Access Subcommittee held another hearing on HB 324 on 2/27/2019, then the bill was approved by the full committee on 3/1/2019.

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

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 213, to establish an industrial hemp program to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 213 was approved by the full House on 2/27/2019, and will now be transmitted to the Senate.

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

    Hawaii

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 673 / Senate Bill 1430, to expand medical cannabis access.

    The proposed changes:

    • Expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients;
    • Allows licensed dispensaries to possess up to two additional manufacturing or processing facilities separate from their production facilities; and
    • Allows licensed dispensaries to sell edible cannabis and cannabidiol products

    Update: HB 673 was approved by the House Committee on Finance on 2/27/2019, and will now go before the full House for a vote.

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

    Indiana

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 516, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 516 was approved by the full Senate on 2/25 and will now be transmitted to the House.

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

    Iowa

    Senate File 378 reduces criminal penalties for first time offenders for the possession of 5 grams of marijuana or less from a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000, to a simple misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 30 days in jail and/or a $625 fine.

    Update: SF 378 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 2/26.

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

    Maryland

    House Bill 656 would permit adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to cultivate up to four marijuana plants in their home.

    House Bill 632 would amend the state’s constitution by putting a question before voters on the 2020 ballot regarding whether or not the state should regulate marijuana sales. If approved by voters, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home.

    Update: Both bills will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on 3/6/2019.

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

    Minnesota

    Legislation is pending, SF 1768, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opiate addiction.

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

    Legislation is pending, HF 1660 / SF 1204 to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HF 1660 is scheduled for a hearing at 9:45am on 3/7/2019, 200 State Office Building.

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

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 481, 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.

    Update: HB 481 was approved by the House of Representatives by a 209-147 vote on 2/27.

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

    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: HB 364 was heard and approved by the House Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on 2/26

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

    Legislation is pending, HB 350, to expand the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

    Update: HB 350 was approved by the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on 2/27.

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

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 335, to 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: HB 335 was approved by the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on 2/27.

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

    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.

    Update: The Environment and Agriculture Committee held a public hearing on HB 459 on 2/26/2019. The committee is scheduled to hold an executive session on the bill on 3/5/2019.

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

    New Mexico

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 356, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.

    A separate proposal is also pending to permit adult use marijuana sales, Senate Bill 577, with retail stores being regulated and operated by the state government as opposed to being privately operated.

    Update: A substitute version of HB 356 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 2/23/2019. SB 577 was approved by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 2/23/2019.

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

    Senate Bill 406:

    • Allows medical practitioners to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe will benefit from cannabis therapy;
    • Allows primary caregivers to obtain a license to grow medical cannabis;
    • Removes medical cannabis use as a violation of probation or parole;
    • Protects patients who require organ transplants

    Update: SB 406 was heard by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 2/26, and then voted to pass a substitute version of the bill.

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

    Senate Bill 323 removes the threat of jail time as a penalty for first time offenders convicted of possessing up to one half an ounces of marijuana.

    Senate Bill 408 reduces the penalty for the possession of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor, but does not remove the threat of jail time.

    Update: Both bills are scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee for 3/1/2019.

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

    Senate Bill 204 seeks 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.

    Update: SB 204 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health & Human Services Committee for 8:00am on 3/4/2019, Room 315.

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

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 581, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 581 was approved by the House Agriculture & Water Resources Committee on 2/27, and the bill was then heard by the House State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee on the same day.

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

    Nevada

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 228, to expand Nevada’s medical cannabis access program.

    The proposed changes:

    • Allows wellness service providers such as massage therapists, reflexologists, and structural integration practitioners to recommend and administer cannabis and hemp infused products for therapeutic purposes;
    • Prohibits a practitioner from refusing to prescribe a controlled substance to a patient solely because the patient uses marijuana; and
    • Establishes a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee the state’s medical marijuana access program.

    Update: The Senate Health and Human Services will hold a hearing on SB 228 at 4:00pm on 3/4/2019.

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

    North Dakota

    House Bill 1417 allows physicians to explicitly authorize patients diagnosed with cancer to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis than are generally allowed under the law.

    Separately, House Bill 1519 would permit providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with 13 additional conditions, including anorexia nervosa, anxiety, opioid use disorder or withdrawal, and autism.

    A third measure, House Bill 1283, would allow physicians assistants to recommend medical cannabis to their patients.

    And a separate measure, House Bill 1364, would permit edible medical cannabis products, as long as they do not appeal to minor.

    Update: All four bills are scheduled for a hearing in the House Human Services Committee on 3/5/2019.

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

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

    Update: HB 1349 is scheduled for a hearing in the Agriculture Committee at 9:30am on 3/7/2019.

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

    Oklahoma

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 2614, to amend the possession penalties for individuals who use cannabis for a qualifying condition, but are not in possession of a medical marijuana identification card.

    The measure would reduce the penalty for this offense from a criminal misdemeanor to a citation, punishable by a maximum fine of $400.

    Update: The House Rules Committee heard HB 2614 on 2/26, then approved a substitute version of the bill.

    OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of amending medical cannabis possession penalties

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 868 / House Bill 2628, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: The Senate Committee On Agriculture & Wildlife held a hearing on SB 868 on 2/25/2019, then approved the bill. It was also approved by the Appropriations Committee on 2/27.

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

    Oregon

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 639, to allow the social consumption of cannabis by adults in licensed and regulated establishments.

    The bill allows the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to issue licenses for permanent cannabis consumption venues as well as cannabis events.

    Update: SB 639 was heard by the Senate Business and General Government Committee on 2/28, but no action was taken on the bill yet.

    OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of social consumption sites

    South Dakota

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1191, to establish an industrial hemp pilot program that will operate in compliance with newly enacted federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 1191 was approved by the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on 2/28.

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

    Tennessee

    Legislation is pending, SB 357 / HB 844, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 357 will be considered by the full Senate on 3/4/2019. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee heard HB 844 on 2/26/2019. The subcommittee deferred action on HB 844 until 3/5/2019.

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

    Texas

    House Bill 63 would reduce the possession penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

    Update: HB 63 will be heard in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on 3/4/2019 at 2:00pm.

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

    Vermont

    S. 54 seeks to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

    Update: S. 54 was approved by the full Senate by a 23-5 vote on 2/28/2019. The bill will get voted on one more time before being transmitted to the House.

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

    Washington

    Legislation is pending, SB 5605 / HB 1500, to allow individuals with prior misdemeanor cannabis convictions to apply to the sentencing court to have their record vacated.

    Update: SB 5605 was approved by the Senate Committee on Ways & Means on 2/26 at 1:30pm, and was then sent to the Rules Committee.

    WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of vacating prior conviction records

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 5276, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: A substitute version of SB 5276 was approved by the Senate Committee on Ways & Means on 2/25, and the bill was then sent to the Rules Committee.

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

    Wyoming

    House Bill 171 seeks to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 171 was approved by the full Senate on 2/25/2019, then approved by the House again for concurrence, and will now be transmitted to the Governor.

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

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