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  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator August 13, 2019

    Medical marijuanaIllinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) has signed two separate medical cannabis expansion bills into law.

    Senate Bill 2023 expands the state’s medical cannabis program by adding several new qualifying conditions, allowing physicians assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to recommend medical cannabis to their patients, allowing minor patients to have up to three caregivers instead of two, among other changes.

    The new law went into effect on August 9, 2019.

    Senate Bill 455 permits children with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have medical cannabis infused products administered to them while on school property. The measure also requires the State Board of Education to develop a training program for school nurses and administrators on administering medical cannabis infused products to patients at school.

    The new law will take effect on January 1,  2020.

     

  • by Josh Kasoff, Nevada NORML

    Las Vegas NORML has once again found themselves busy with many types of advocacy for patient and consumer rights, both statewide and federally. Following a rapidly successful Nevada legislative session where the historic AB 132 and AB 192 were passed, Las Vegas NORML has kept the legislative momentum moving. Seeing the sheer willpower of the advocates and people themselves to become politically involved and speaking with their representatives directly, the local NORML chapter has been collecting signatures for a significantly more monumental federal bill that could result in drastic criminal justice reform and further legalization and access to financial services for legal cannabis businesses.   

    Introduced by New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler and California Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris, The MORE Act (Marijuana, Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act) would directly address and provide a remedy to the many troubles and difficulties still associated with cannabis, everything short of stopping Taco Bell from sounding appetizing. 

    For starters, cannabis would be decriminalized on the federal level and therefore removed from the entirety of the Controlled Substances Act. Furthermore, those convicted of cannabis charges on the federal level could apply for expungement of records and apply for re-sentencing if needed. For those who desire to work in the industry, yet have a federal felony record, and are therefore unable to in many states due to felonies being instantly prohibited, this reform may allow that desire to become a reality.  

    Any issues related to receiving public benefits due to cannabis usage will be stopped and a five percent federal tax will be implemented, the revenue of which will be directed to a program called the “Opportunity Trust Fund”. This fund would establish financial services such as grants and loans to “socially and economically-disadvantaged” communities most affected by the life-wrecking failures of the War on Drugs.

    Last Saturday at NuLeaf, Las Vegas NORML collected dozens of signatures from consumers who support such a comprehensively reformative bill. With the consumer’s information, the team will hand-deliver the pre-written letters of support to their respective representative in both Congress and the Senate during our trip to Washington, DC, and show irrefutable evidence of this bill’s popularity and need.

    Our packed August meeting went excellently and we were so thrilled with the number of fresh faces we got to see. Being able to hear Representative Neal and McCurdy’s testimonies about how they championed for the need for AB 132 and 192 spoke volumes to advocates, and Ashley Ciliberti of MA Analytics showed the absolute importance and interest in cannabis lab testing. Countless more signatures were collected in support of the MORE Act, and a good amount of funds were raised for Las Vegas NORML’s Washington DC national convention and lobbying efforts.

    “Our volunteers look forward to our annual trip to DC each year because it provides the one-on-one opportunity to interact with policy makers.” said Nevada NORML Executive Director Madisen Saglibene. “Traveling to the nation’s capital for these meetings sends a strong message to our leaders that constituents care about these developing cannabis policies.”

    Learn more at www.lvnorml.org
    Contributions being accepted at paypal.me/lasvegasnorml
  • by Tanya Thompson, NORML Junior Associate August 5, 2019

    Working at NORML is kind of like going on a Tinder date; you have no idea what you’re getting into until it’s much too late. When I landed my job with NORML, I had pretty “high” expectations and, luckily, I was not let down (unlike ALL of my online dating experiences). I guess you could say that NORML was a love match for me… Here’s why– 

    My first big project involved lobbying for the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton amendment to the House CJS Appropriations Bill. Essentially, the amendment defunds the ability of the Department of Justice to enforce the federal prohibition of marijuana in states where it has been legalized, be it for medical or adult-use. While it doesn’t resolve the federally illegal problem, it does give confidence to those in state-legal marijuana businesses that the Department of Justice won’t seize product, seize money, or make arrests. Currently, state-legal adult-use marijuana businesses are at constant risk of federal prosecution. This looming fear functioned to have a negative effect on marijuana business growth and the appetite for state legislatures to enact reforms. 

    The amendment was suddenly announced to be up for a vote only a few days in advance. Evidently, this is a normal practice on Capitol Hill. We had to work fast to ensure the amendment had broad support in the House. First, the Cannabis Caucus met, which is a group of Congressional members who support marijuana reform. The group planned “whip campaigns” to ensure that all members of Congress are notified of the upcoming vote and keeps a record of how members will vote. Second, NORML contacted hundreds of thousands of its members with an action alert to urge their member of Congress to vote “yes.” Next, NORML teamed with other marijuana advocacy groups to assemble 500 packets that we hand-delivered to every member of the House. Finally, we hit Capitol Hill and the real magic happened.

    The short window of time before votes leaves legislators with very little time to conduct their own research and determine their position. That’s where the staffers (the aides to members of Congress) come in, as they review the proposed amendment then give the member of Congress a briefing and issue a recommendation on how to vote. It is so important to present the amendment to the staffer in a manner that will appeal to their boss so that they have the right talking points (and are motivated, of course) to convince the member of Congress that voting “yes” is the best option. 

    Our spell must have worked because on Thursday, June 20, 2019, the House voted to approve the amendment. Making this not only my first lobbying experience but my first success at doing so! The victory announcement is a moment in my life that I will never forget. The level of pride and excitement I felt is unmatchable. I still can’t believe that I was a part of this historic change. It fuels me to devote myself to moving the legalization ball further across the court and taught me not to be afraid of the unknown- even if the last few Bumble matches were a flop. While I’ve given up online dating, I am now in a committed relationship with marijuana reform.

    With your continued support of NORML, nationwide legalization CAN and WILL happen. Please keep contacting your member of Congress urging them to support marijuana reform because, without your help, none of these marijuana victories would be possible.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director August 2, 2019

     

    Following a recent trend in Congress to address the collateral consequences associated with a marijuana-related conviction, Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Ocasio-Cortez have introduced the Fair Chance at Housing Act. If passed by Congress, the bill would make it easier for people with criminal records to receive federal housing assistance by prohibiting the use of suspicionless drug and alcohol testing, banning discriminatory “1-strike” and “no-fault” policies and more.

    “As our country continues working toward much-needed reform of our criminal justice system, I am proud to work with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to ensure formerly incarcerated individuals and their families have access to safe and affordable housing as they transition back into their community,” said Senator Harris. “By requiring a higher standard of evidence and a more holistic review process, we are taking a significant step toward giving Americans a fair chance to succeed.”

    Currently, marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance can prevent honest and hardworking individuals from securing housing assistance and other basic services. As a result, property management companies are employing discriminatory policies that deny responsible marijuana consumers access to subsidized housing and other assistance. 

    “I am proud to join Senator Harris in introducing the Fair Chance at Housing Act. This legislation is one of many steps that need to be taken to repair our broken criminal justice system,” said Representative Ocasio-Cortez. “The denial of basic necessities to formerly incarcerated people does not make our communities safer. Denying housing to those that have been formerly incarcerated increases recidivism. Today we are taking a step to make our communities safer.”

    While this effort falls short of ending marijuana prohibition at the federal level, it does address the very policies that contribute to a lifetime of social and economic challenges for responsible marijuana consumers. It’s time to end the broken and discriminatory policies of marijuana prohibition. Ensuring a fair chance at housing assistance is a step in the right direction.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

     

  • by Josh Kasoff, Nevada NORML July 8, 2019

    It’s been nothing short of an incredibly exciting and exhilarating month for Nevada NORML, our advocates and the rights of patients and consumers. While Nevadans will unfortunately have to wait another two years for the fate of public consumption lounges to be decided upon, monumental legislation passed in the 2019 legislative session regardless. 

    The Battle Born State made national history with the passing and the subsequent signing by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak of Assembly Bill 132, which would prohibit employers within the state from rejecting an applicant based solely on a positive result for cannabis in a drug test. The bill greatly increases the employment opportunities of both recreational consumers and patients alike, and is undoubtedly a step in the correct progressive direction.

    Speaking of the correct progressive direction, Assembly Bill 192 would authorize those who have received low-level, usually misdemeanor cannabis possession charges to apply for expungement. 

    Advocates also had the pleasure of attending a fundraiser at Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom’s residence in May, for New Jersey Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker, where Senator Booker discussed his very vocal plans to legalize cannabis federally and further amend the criminal justice system, which is more critically broken and flawed. 

    The pinnacle of Nevada NORML’s advocacy over the past month consisted of board members’ tour across Northern Nevada. Over the course of three days, advocates visited underserved areas of the state not oftentimes visited by cannabis/criminal justice reform advocates. 

    “We were able to visit folks in Tahoe, Reno and Fallon as well as smoke shops, dispensaries and Budtender Fight Club.” said Nevada NORML Director Madisen Saglibene. “We educated them on the policies we helped pass, what didn’t pass, statistics on cannabis, starting a chapter in Northern Nevada and highlighting Old Pal as not only the sponsor for the event, but as a company who supports cultural change.”

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