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Citizen Lobbyists

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate November 9, 2018

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

    This week was a big week for marijuana with Michigan voters approving a measure to regulate the retail sale of marijuana for adults, and Utah and Missouri voting to allow medical marijuana access.

    There were also 16 counties and two cities in Wisconsin that approved non-binding marijuana ballot measures, as well as five cities in Ohio that voted to decriminalize marijuana possession. Read more here.

    Massachusetts adult use retail sales could begin within days, after being delayed from the original start date of July 1.

    Iowa added autism as a medical marijuana qualifying condition, but rejected PTSD, bipolar disorder and ADHD. They also voted to keep the THC cap at 3%. This recommendation now has to be approved by the Iowa Board of Medicine. Also, the state’s first dispensary will begin selling low-THC medical cannabis products on December 1.

    Gretchen Whitmer (D), Michigan’s soon to be governor, is considering options to expunge prior marijuana convictions since voters in the state approved a marijuana regulation measure.

    A medical cannabis bill is expected to be filed in Tennessee.

    Governor Phil Murphy (D) of New Jersey is still negotiating with lawmakers on tax rates for marijuana legalization legislation. They had originally set a date for a vote on the measure for October 29.

    A New York state lawmakers wants sealing prior marijuana possession convictions to be a priority for the 2019 legislative session.

    At a more local level, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) of Washington, DC stated that she plans to pursue retail marijuana sales in the city in 2019.

    The city council of Green Bay, Wisconsin approved a measure to lower the penalties for marijuana possession and the Santa Fe, New Mexico City Council is debating a resolution calling for “legalization, decriminalization and/or regulation of cannabis and cannabis-related products for recreational use.”

    Additionally, a key Mexican senator who will be a member of the new presidential administration filed a bill to tax and regulate marijuana. The move comes less than a week after the country’s Supreme Court struck down the prohibition of cannabis.

    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 York

    A11390 seeks to require public health insurance programs to cover medical marijuana related costs.

    The measure amends state law so that publicly funded health programs, including the largely-publicly funded Essential Plan, would treat medical cannabis like any other legal prescription drug “for the purposes of coverage under medical assistance.”

    Update: Companion legislation, S9189, was introduced on 11/2/18 and referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

    NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana coverage

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate November 2, 2018

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

    A bit of news from across the border to start; Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down the country’s prohibition of marijuana by issuing two separate rulings, setting binding precedent that the country’s ban on consuming marijuana is unconstitutional. The nation’s Congress has 90 days to repeal cannabis bans now considered unconstitutional.

    Let’s talk about Election Day, which is this Tuesday, November 6th, 2018. Don’t forget to vote if you haven’t already! No matter where you live, or what political party you identify with, your vote counts. It matters. It can make a difference. It’s your civic duty to exercise your right to vote. Make sure you know where your voting location is. And, make sure you know who and what is on your ballot, so you can make an informed decision. Also check out NORML’s voter guide and scorecard to see who the most cannabis friendly candidates are this election, and get ready to #SmokeTheVote!

    In Congress this week, The Marijuana Data Collection Act got two new cosponsors, for a new total of 33.

    At the state level, Utah lawmakers and advocates are working to revise provisions of medical marijuana compromise legislation. The House speaker also held a public forum on this issue.

    New Hampshire’s marijuana legalization study committee finalized a report examining policy considerations for the potential end of prohibition.

    New Mexico lawmakers held a hearing on permitting medical cannabis on school grounds. Also, a New Mexico judge ruled that the state’s 450-plant limit on medical cannabis dispensaries has no factual basis.

    Maine regulators making guesses that the first recreational marijuana stores will begin sales next year.

    Oregon regulators will hold a public hearing on marijuana rule changes on November 16.

    Regulators in Colorado are hosting a working group meeting on Monday. Regulators in the state are also taking public comments on changes to medical cannabis rules. You can submit your own comments here.

    Regulators in Ohio started accepting petitions to add new medical cannabis qualifying conditions. You can submit your own petition here.

    Governor Tom Wolf (D) of Pennsylvania signed a bill into law to end the practice of revoking driver’s licenses from people convicted of drug offenses and other crimes that have nothing to do with operating a motor vehicle.

    At a more local level, the mayor of San Francisco, California stated that the city is expanding their cannabis equity program. And Manhattan’s district attorney said marijuana prosecutions are down 94% in just the first quarter of a newly implemented policy.

    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 York

    A11390 seeks to require public health insurance programs to cover medical marijuana related costs.

    The measure amends state law so that publicly funded health programs, including the largely-publicly funded Essential Plan, would treat medical cannabis like any other legal prescription drug “for the purposes of coverage under medical assistance.”

    NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana coverage

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director November 1, 2018

    Everyday NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Below is a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

    Arizona NORML’s Candidate Report Card Takes Center Stage Before Midterm Elections

    “The latest poll conducted on cannabis legalization in Arizona indicates 63 percent of Arizonans support adult-use cannabis legalization, according to OH Predictive Insights in February. This is way up from 2016, when an Arizona Republic poll showed just 50 percent of voters in favor of legalization.”

    Read more from Tucson Weekly!

    Follow Arizona NORML on Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of Indiana NORML testified before Indiana’s Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services

    Steve Dillon, Executive Director, Indiana NORML

    “Medical marijuana could reduce opiate overdose deaths, said attorney Steven Dillon, chairman of Indiana NORML. Last year, 1,840 Hoosiers died from opioid overdoses, an 18 percent increase over the previous year, he said. There was a 25 percent decrease in opioid overdoses in medical marijuana states.”

    Read more from the Tribune Star!

    Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    David Phipps, Communications Director, Indiana NORML

    “Giving that vague response, that is lighting a fire under the public and that is encouraging them to get more involved going into the General Assembly and that’s where I think the magic will happen.”

    Read more from News and Tribune!

    Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of Indiana NORML Host Community Discussion About Medical Marijuana

    “Jack Cain, vice chair of the Indiana chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which has been lobbying for changes in marijuana laws, said Indiana lawmakers won’t abandon their opposition until they begin hearing from their constituents.”

    Read more from The Goshen News!

    Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of Springfield NORML Host Town Hall Meeting to Discuss Amendment 2

    “At the town hall were t-shirts, buttons, and flyers; all up for grabs to advertise the need for medical marijuana. While there are three different medical marijuana measures on the ballot, most of the advocates at the town hall are for  Amendment 2”

    Read more from Ozarks First!

    Follow Springfield NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    NORML Women of Washington Expands Efforts With New Chapter  

    “In recent years, the groups have promoted a need for people to legally grow their own plants at home; removing non-violent marijuana convictions handed down prior to legalization; and updating employment protections for responsible cannabis use by adults.”

    Read more from The Spokesman Review!

    Follow NORML Women of Washington on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of Texas NORML’s Veterans Outreach Rally in Support of Access to Medical Marijuana

    “The group believes marijuana is a better medicine to help manage PTSD and other disabilities veterans often face. More than two out 10 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder also have substance use disorder.”

    Read more from Spectrum News Austin!

    Follow Texas NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    NORML Leaders in the Media

    Ashley Weber, Executive Director, Colorado NORML

    “That narrative is “demonizing cannabis” and unfairly feeding “reefer madness” in the state, said Ashley Weber with Colorado NORML, a pro-marijuana organization that advocates for cannabis law reforms.”

    Read more from The Gazette!

    Follow Colorado NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Brian Seamonson, Board Member, Madison NORML

    “This is changing people and actually saving people’s lives everyday. It’s time that Wisconsin steps up and gives us an opportunity like that, too,”

    Read more from 27 News!

    Follow Madison NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Brian Seamonson, Board Member, Madison NORML

    “They vary from strict recreational questions, to medicinal questions. Some of the referendums have both a medicinal and a recreational question on them,” said Brain Seamonson with Madison NORML.

    Read more from NBC 15!

    Follow Madison NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Chris Goldstein, Executive Director, South Philly NORML

    “There is a capricious and arbitrary nature to this that plays out every day,” said Chris Goldstein, an area organizer with NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

    Read more from The Inquirer!

    Follow South Philly NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Corey Mendes, Executive Director, Southeast Texas NORML

    “Corey Mendes is the Executive Director of the non-profit organization NORML, he believes people should not be arrested for possession of marijuana, but says the governor’s proposal is a good step forward.”

    Read more from KFDM News!

    Follow Southeast Texas NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Dale Geringer, Executive Director, California NORML

    “Nowhere does Prop 64 say that it is intended to impede free donations of medicine to needy patients. The purposes and intents section of the initiative is clear that it pertains only to adult-use marijuana, and does not override Prop 215,”

    Read more from The Bay Area Reporter!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Dan Linn, Executive Director, Illinois NORML

    “It’s going to be part of a broader wave of young people going to the polls,” Linn said. “When there’s such an obvious difference between the two major party candidates, this issue will cause a lot of younger people to support the Democrat.”

    Read more from the Chicago Tribune!

    Follow Illinois NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Edward Wicker, Executive Director, San Diego NORML

    “I think that the mayor was pretty clear that he has no genuine interest in having a dialogue that would better inform him and city officials about the benefits of having a regulated cannabis business,” Wicker said. “His mind appeared to be closed.”

    Read more from The Coast News Group!

    Follow San Diego NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

    “It would mean it’s a lot easier to pressure legislators to legalize cannabis here,” Marsch said. “It’s going to help move the ball forward.”

    Read more from TMJ4 Milwaukee!

    Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

    “I really do think we’re coming to a turning point,” says executive director of SE WI NORML Eric Marsch. “The number of positive responses we’ve gotten is very encouraging.”

    Read more from Urban Milwaukee!

    Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Evan Nison, Executive Director, New Jersey NORML

    “Cannabis consumers are not looking to dose children with cannabis,” said Evan Nison, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of NORML, a group pushing marijuana legalization, the Associated Press reported last year. “That is not something that I’ve ever heard of anybody ever being interested in doing or wanting to do or would think is ethical.”

    Read more from The Kansas City Star!

    Follow New Jersey NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jack Porcari, Executive Director, Western New York NORML

    “When people look at the stereotype of lazy stoner. If we get rid of prohibition, then we will allow people to have higher level jobs.”

    Read more from WIVB 4!

    Follow Western New York NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jack Porcari, Executive Director, Western New York NORML

    “Jack Porcari, the executive director of the Western New York chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said Thursday currently legal substances, such as alcohol, present the same, if not more substantial risks in the same categories.”

    Read more from the Niagara Gazette!

    Follow Western New York NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jax Finkle, Executive Director, Texas NORML

    “He said he doesn’t want people sitting in jails, and we agree with that. People should not be in jail for possession of a plant, and so we look forward to those conversations with his office.”

    Read more from the Texas Standard!

    Follow Texas NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jay Selthofner, Executive Director, Northern Wisconsin NORML

    “I’m advocating for voting yes because it’s the right thing to do,” explained Selthofner. “Nobody should go to jail for a plant. This is cannabis, this is marijuana. This is not a dangerous substance.”

    Read more from Fox 11 News!

    Follow Northwest Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jeri Shepard, Board Member, Colorado NORML

    “The so-called Drug War has nothing to do with sobriety and everything to do with control AND is designed to go after people of color and poor people. Note that law enforcement and the private prison industry have incentives to lock people up.”

    Read more from Herald and News!

    Follow Colorado NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Kevin Oliver, Executive Director, Washington NORML

    “Kevin Oliver, executive director of the Washington chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the sudden nature of the announcement, and the targeting specifically of candy and not other products that would also appeal to children, made the liquor board’s actions suspect.”

    Read more from The Spokesman Review!

    Follow Washington NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

    “The point is to design a system that encourages people to come into the legal, regulated marketplace and design the economics so that there’s less incentive to participate in the black market.”

    Read more from Hometown Life!

    Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

    “Legalization does not increase youth access. We now have more than 10 peer-reviewed studies which found that liberalized marijuana laws do not lead to increased teen use. Licensed merchants check for ID — bootleggers do not.”

    Read more from Petoskey News-Review!

    Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

    “Medical is not affected by legalization. It specifically is protected. So patients and caregivers will maintain all the rights and options that they currently have,”

    Read more from the Morning Sun!

    Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

    “Even if there are more people in accidents with cannabis in their system, the drug is not necessarily to blame for those accidents,”

    Read more from Spartan Newsroom!

    Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Mikel Weisser, Executive Director, Arizona NORML

    “The meeting, he said, spelled the end for the 24 bills NORML had worked on for the past year, which included mandatory testing, lower card fees and other reforms to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.”

    Read more from Tucson Weekly!

    Follow Arizona NORML on Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    TJ Desormeaux, Deputy Director, Southeast Texas NORML

    “We want to help the community with factual-based knowledge and letting them know what they can and cannot do,” says Desormeaux. “Again, try to get it where doctors can prescribe patients marijuana if needed.”

    Read more from 12 News Now!

    Follow El Paso NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    For more than 45 years NORML chapters have been the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please email NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji at KevinM@NORML.org for help with starting your own!

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate

    On October 31, NORML hand delivered over 10,000 comments written by YOU, recommending that the World Health Organization (WHO) re-think their current prohibition of marijuana.

    Along with two of our fantastic interns, I drove to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) building in Rockville, Maryland. Earlier this month, The FDA put out a request for public comments on the international scheduling of cannabis. They’re going to use the comments as a response to the WHO as they review the abuse potential, medical efficacy, and other aspects of 16 controlled substances, one of them being marijuana.

    Currently, under international treaties, cannabis is scheduled in the most restrictive category. And as we all know, it does not belong there due to it’s widespread therapeutic and medical uses and very low potential for abuse.

    In NORML’s latest comments to the FDA, it opined that “cannabis be removed from the international drug conventions so that nations that wish to do so may further expand their regulations governing cannabis’ use, possession, production, and dispensing for either recreational or medical use.”

    Comments from NORML members totaled 10,117, making up just under 50% of the total comments submitted to the FDA nationwide.

  • by Pedro Padilla, Executive Director, NORML at the U of U October 29, 2018

    Members of the newly established NORML at the University of Utah hosted a panel discussion on the current state of marijuana law reform efforts in Utah, which included Proposition 2, as well as the negative impacts marijuana prohibition has had on Utahns. Panelists included Salt Lake County District Attorney, Sim Gill, as well as Alex Iorg who is the campaign manager for Utah Patients Coalition, the group sponsoring Proposition 2, and Tom Pasket, policy director for TRUCE (Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education), a well known medical cannabis advocacy group in Utah.

    Panelists discussed the potential fate of Proposition 2 and highlighted the compromise that was recently reached between proponents of Proposition 2, opposition groups, and the state legislature. Unfortunately the new compromise has many proponents on edge as some feel their vote will no longer matter if state lawmakers can simply adopt a more restrictive program using the legislative process. Throughout the discussion, Mr. Gill, who believes Proposition 2 is “an indictment of the failure of the Legislature to listen to its citizens,” stressed his support and even urged those in attendance to support the ballot proposal on November 6th. Others in attendance shared this sentiment and encouraged voters to hold Utah state lawmakers accountable by voting YES on Proposition 2.Panelists also explored some of the legal implications of the ongoing conflict between state-sanctioned marijuana programs and federal law. Some leading public officials in Utah have warned that marijuana remains illegal under federal law and that it is the job of law enforcement to make that clear. However, several panelists thoroughly unpacked the CJS amendment highlighting how federal law has actually been amended every year since 2014 to prevent the Department of Justice from going after state-sanctioned marijuana programs. When asked about the 6,000 marijuana arrests in Utah and how possession cases are handled, our panelists agreed that the criminal penalties for marijuana in Utah are too punitive and would like to see reform in that area as well.

    Our goal by hosting this panel discussion was to bring education to Utahns about the current state of marijuana reform efforts in Utah, as well as other avenues of reform such as decriminalization. In the future, we hope to host similar events in order to deconstruct the reefer madness rhetoric and advocate for the liberalization of marijuana laws in our state.

    To learn more about marijuana law reform efforts in Utah, follow NORML at the University of Utah on Facebook and visit our website today!

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