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Citizen Lobbyists

  • by NORML October 17, 2018

    Today, Canada becomes the second nation to explicitly legalize the social use, possession, cultivation, and retail production and sale of cannabis. The new law marks the culmination of an effort led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised in 2015, shortly after taking office, to legalize and regulate the marijuana market.

    Further, the new law will include expungements of all possession criminal charges of less than 30 grams.

    Trudeau was not always in favor of legalization. In fact, for many years he opposed it. That was until he met face-to-face with NORML Canada advocates Kelly Coulter and Andrea Matrosovs in 2012. They presented Trudeau with pro-legalization arguments that he’s still using today as prime minister.

    According to the Toronto Star:

    Coulter told Trudeau flatly that decriminalization would not keep gangs and organized crime out of the marijuana business. “Al Capone would have loved it if alcohol had only been decriminalized,” she said — a line she often used when talking to politicians.

    “I saw the light go on in his eyes,” Coulter said. “He was seeing this as a politician, realizing ‘I can sell this,’ ” she recalled.

    Speaking with the Huffington Post in 2013, Trudeau acknowledged that he reversed his position after speaking with NORML members admitting their “line of argument did a long way towards convincing me.” Their conversation persuaded Trudeau that legalizing marijuana use for adults would be the best way for the government to regulate sales, provide consumer safety, and keep it out of the hands of kids.

    The Act, Bill C-45, permits those age 18 and older to legally possess (up to 30 grams) and grow cannabis (up to four plants of any size per household). Individual provinces possess the authority to enact additional regulations with respect to distribution, such as raising the legal age limit to purchase cannabis or by restricting home grow operations.

    The Act also federally licenses commercial producers of cannabis and certain cannabis-infused products, while permitting provinces to regulate retail sales in public (government operated) and private stores, subject to local rules. Online cannabis sales will also be permitted in certain provinces.

    While fewer than 200 total retailers are anticipated to be operational on day one of the new law, additional facilities are anticipated to be operational in the near future. Cannabis-infused edible products are anticipated to be regulated and available at retail stores early next summer. The new social use regulations do not amend Canada’s existing medical marijuana access laws, which have been in place since 2001.

    In anticipation of the law change, the US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection Agency published a memorandum in September affirming that those Canadians either involved or invested in the legal cannabis industry may be barred admission into the United States. The agency later updated their policy directive on October 9, 2018, acknowledging: “A Canadian citizen working in … the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the US for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the United States. However, if a traveler is found to be coming to the US for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

    But what about America? We still have a long way to go to achieve the kind of freedom Canadians are celebrating today.

    NORML is hard at work making sure Americans have the information they need when they head to the polls on November 6 to elect the most pro-reform candidates in history with our Smoke the Vote voter guide to legalizing marijuana. We’re arming advocates around the country with the persuasive arguments and undisputed facts necessary to have conversations like the one that changed Trudeau’s mind. We aren’t stopping until responsible marijuana consumers are no longer subject to arrest anywhere in America. We need your help to make this goal a reality.

    Make a pledge today of $25, $50 or $100 to make sure NORML has the resources to legalize marijuana in the US!

    Together, we can legalize marijuana in America, end the arrest of responsible consumers, and make sure there is access to safe, quality products at affordable prices. Together, we’ll keep fighting for our freedom.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director October 16, 2018

    The US Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comments specific to whether changes ought to be recommended regarding the international classification of cannabis as a controlled substance. Members of the public have until October 31, 2018 to submit their comments to the FDA for consideration.

    The FDA says that the comments “will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization regarding the abuse liability and diversion” of marijuana and certain other substances.

    In April, in response to a similar FDA request, NORML collected and hand-delivered over 10,000 comments to the agency calling on it to recommend a lifting of international restrictions criminalizing the plant. In total, comments from NORML members totaled over 60% of the public comments submitted nationwide. 

    Click here to submit a public comment NOW

    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.”

    Let’s continue to dominate the debate. Click here to submit your own public comment now.

    Then take the next step:

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  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate October 12, 2018

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

    This week, The U.S. House bill to respect state medical cannabis laws (CARERS Act) got two new cosponsors, for a total of 30.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a clarification to a policy many feared would prevent Canadians who work or invest in marijuana businesses from entering the country, indicating that “A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. however, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

    At the state level, The working group appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to draft NY’s leglaization legislation is taking public comments on this initiative until the end of October, and you can submit your own comments by clicking here, or you can email comments to rmls@health.ny.gov.

    New Hampshire’s Commission to Study the Legalization Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana will deliver its final report to Gov. Chris Sununu by Nov. 1. The commission includes legislators, law enforcement officials, state regulators, and law and medical professionals. The report will include recommendations for a legal marijuana market if legalization legislation were to pass, ranging from regulatory framework, to licensing processes, to tax rates and revenue projections.

    New Jersey lawmakers discussed the finer details of pending marijuana legalization legislation. The forthcoming bill addresses taxes, regulations and eligibility to operate a marijuana business. It also includes provisions to address racial inequities in marijuana arrests, and to provide for expungement.

    Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo signed a bill into law allowing medical cannabis home cultivation.

    At a more local level, a Green Bay, Wisconsin City Council committee voted to delay consideration of a proposed ordinance to lower marijuana possession penalties, and the Lawrence, Kansas City Commission is considering a proposal to lower marijuana penalties.

    Following are the bills from around the country 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

    End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

    The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

    Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    Pennsylvania

    House Bill 928 was carried over from last year, seeking to reduce minor marijuana possession penalties.

    HB 928 amends state law so that first and second marijuana possession offenses (up to 30 grams) are reduced from misdemeanor offenses to a summary offense, punishable by a fine only.

    Update: HB 928 was heard by the House Judiciary Committee on 10/9 at 9:30am, then approved by the committee after shooting down a proposed amendment that would have barred local jurisdictions in the state from imposing their own decriminalization policies.

    PA resident? Click here to email your representatives in support of decriminalization

    That’s all for this week!

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate October 5, 2018

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

    Three U.S. House bills gained new cosponsors this week. One to shield federal employees from being fired for state-legal marijuana (Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act) use got two new cosponsors, for a total of seven. The one to respect state medical cannabis laws (CARERS Act) got one new cosponsor, for a total of 28. And another to require the licensing of more cannabis cultivators for research (Medical Cannabis Research Act) got one new cosponsor, for a total of 43.

    At the state level, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill into law facilitating the review and expungement of hundreds of thousands of past marijuana convictions.

    But he vetoed bills that would have allowed schools to adopt policies for parents to administer medical cannabis to students, let businesses give away free medical cannabis, and allowed safe injection facilities for illegal drugs.

    Michigan lawmakers sent Gov. Rick Snyder (R) a bill to ban marijuana-infused alcoholic beverages. Separately, the House Agriculture Committee is considering an industrial hemp bill.

    Utah medical cannabis supporters have reached an agreement with opponents on compromise legislation, which they expect to be considered during a special session in November. All sides said they will “de-escalate” efforts to campaign around the ballot measure and instead focus on the legislation.

    Mississippi activists have so far collected more than 5,000 signatures in support of a proposed 2020 medical cannabis ballot measure.

    A bit outside the bubble, but Guam senators approved legislation to allow home cultivation of medical cannabis.

    At a more local level, the Superior, Wisconsin City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization ordinance. And a medical cannabis tax proposed by Phoenix, Arizona’s mayor was unanimously defeated by the City Council.

    As far as specific pieces of legislation go, none have moved this week, as most states’ legislative sessions are adjourned for this year. But be sure to check http://norml.org/act for any legislation still pending in your state and the federal level.

    Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as bills move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

     

  • by Matthew Maulding, Executive Director, NORML of Catawba Valley

    In North Carolina there is only one way we will be able to achieve any level of cannabis reform at the state level, that way is through our legislators in Raleigh.

    Currently, the amount of legislators in office that are supportive of cannabis reform is pretty much nil. Zero. Nada. There are few representatives that are supportive currently but they can’t do anything by themselves. They need other supporters in Raleigh with them.

    Click Here to View NORML’s  North Carolina Voter Guide

    How do we achieve this goal of cannabis reform that we all supposedly hold so dear then if there isn’t anyone willing to change the laws from the inside for us? The answer is, and you’re gonna hate it, vote. We MUST vote, one district at a time, to increase the amount of legislators in Raleigh that support cannabis reform from just a handful of legislators to an abundance of legislators.

    This isn’t going to happen “overnight”, or in one election cycle. This is going to take years to evolve but we must start now. There is nothing we can do about the past and how organizations like ours have tried to get the reform we want, but we can make an assertive effort to change the future.

    I use this analogy all the time when I refer to the reform efforts here in North Carolina; this movement is like a car that’s ran out of gas. In order for us to get the car running and to get where we want, we have to push the car to the gas station. It takes a lot of effort to initially get the car moving, but once it gets rolling it goes faster and gets easier to push. Up till now, I think many separate organizations and activists looked at the car in the past and couldn’t figure out how to get it to the gas station. However, now I feel we have a path towards victory.While its not an easy path, there is only one way we can do it.

    Voting the right candidates in and increasing the number of allies in the Legislative Building in Raleigh starts with this year and starts getting the car rolling. Lobbying efforts in-between elections help keep the car rolling. Then, every election year we can increase our allies through the elections which helps the car pick up speed and helps us “get gas”. Getting favorable numbers in Raleigh will be like finally getting gas in the car in which we can start the car, and drive the rest of the way to the finish line.

    Click Here to View NORML’s North Carolina Voter Guide

    The bottom line is, cannabis reform in North Carolina starts with this election, continues through lobbying efforts in “off-election years”, and then builds speed through every election from here on out. Get out and vote for cannabis friendly candidates every single election and we will get the reform we all need, it’s that simple. It’s a long process but it’s simple.

    For more info about cannabis law reform efforts in North Carolina, please visit http://ncnorml.org/ or email normlofcatawbavalley@gmail.com. You can also follow North Carolina NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

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