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COVID-19

  • by NORML May 11, 2020

    Even during these uncertain times, NORML’s mission remains the same. In fact, one can argue that our mission now is more important than ever before.

    “NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.”

    NORML Resource Guide Effective Activism During COVID-19

    Download the Resource Guide

    During this worldwide health emergency, it is more important than ever that patients have safe, above-ground, uninterrupted access to lab-tested cannabis medicine. It is more important than ever that police and prosecutors do not waste limited resources targeting marijuana consumers. It is more important than ever that America’s prisons and jails no longer incarcerate those charged with marijuana-related activities. It is more important than ever that essential cannabis retailers have equal access to banking and small business financial assistance.

    But while NORML’s mission hasn’t changed, advocates’ methods for accomplishing these goals have had to adapt.

    During this pandemic, reformers can no longer hold large public rallies. It remains unclear when Congress will return to Capitol Hill and resume regular order. In many parts of the country, state and local legislatures are closed indefinitely — making it impossible at this time to lobby for specific legislative changes in state and local laws. In most states, constituents cannot at this time even schedule a face-to-face meeting with their lawmakers.

    Given this new reality, how do activists effectively make their voices heard and continue to advocate for substantive changes in cannabis policies?

    Here’s how. In this guide, NORML highlights various online tools to assist reformers in their advocacy endeavors. As America awaits a return to normal, here are numerous steps that you can take today to keep successfully engaged with pundits, politicians, and other influencers during this pandemic.

    Despite the ongoing crisis that is before our country (and the globe), NORML and its staff are rising to the occasion to be both productive and influential in shaping the emerging worldwide narrative surrounding cannabis. Thank you for your continued advocacy and support. Together, we will end the criminalization and stigmatization of cannabis.

    The team at NORML


    NORML’s strength is in its numbers. Please take time today to consider joining the NORML family. NORML is well aware that these are difficult times financially for many of you, and we understand that some of you may not be in a position at this time to contribute to this cause. But for those of you who can, we hope that you value and appreciate NORML’s ongoing efforts and will consider making a contribution at this time. Your past efforts have allowed NORML to be ready and able to step up at times like this, and your continued efforts will help carry us forward to the better days ahead.

    Donate to NORML

  • by NORML May 5, 2020

    A lot is happening right now. There’s a global pandemic, various levels of government either shut down or solely focusing on COVID-19, and a lot of uncertainty. Cannabis programs have been deemed ‘essential’ in a majority of states that regulate its commerce, and multiple District Attorneys have deprioritized enforcement efforts in prohibition jurisdictions.

    In these difficult times, we want to make sure NORML is operating in a way that best serves the interest of our supporters, you, so we are seeking your direct input. By completing the following survey, you will help NORML better understand how to most effectively represent your interests in our lobbying, organizing, and educational efforts.

    Take the Survey

    We want to know, what should NORML’s priorities be? How are you responding to our efforts regarding the Coronavirus? Have you changed your consumption habits in response to COVID-19? How did you celebrate 4/20? And how do you want to engage in reform efforts with NORML?

    The information collected in this survey is kept confidential and will only be used for NORML’s internal organizational purposes to better improve our programming. Under no circumstances will your information be given, sold, or disclosed to any other individual or organization.

    This information is vital to our continued success. Please take a moment to fill out our survey.

    Thanks for all you do. Together we will legalize marijuana nationwide and ensure the rights of responsible consumers are protected.

    Your friends and family at NORML

    stay at home

     

    P.S. During these difficult times, NORML’s efforts have largely been supported by our amazing sustaining members who contribute a few bucks a month to help ensure we have the resources for the long fight. If you can, please kick in $5, $10 or $20 a month to help us keep going.

    Donate to NORML

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator April 23, 2020

    As we all learn to cope with our new socially distant realities amidst a global pandemic, its difficult to think of any aspect of society that hasn’t been affected by COVID-19. Unfortunately for marijuana reform, what began with at least a dozen states optimistically working to qualify state level ballot initiatives in advance of the November 2020 election, has slowly dwindled to a number that can be counted on one hand.

    Activists have been working for months registering new voters, collecting signatures, and educating the public, in hopes of giving voters in their state the opportunity to make their voices heard and cast their vote for marijuana. But social distancing guidelines have made this work virtually impossible.

    Below is an overview of key 2020 ballot initiative efforts and where they stand now.

    New Jersey

    Issue: Adult use marijuana
    Status: Qualified
    The question:

    Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called “cannabis”?

    Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market.

    Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.

    Members of the New Jersey state legislature approved a proposed constitutional amendment in December 2019 by a three-fifths majority, firmly placing a question to allow regulated cannabis sales on the November 2020 ballot. According to a recent Monmouth University survey, 61 percent of respondents said they would vote in support of the proposal, while 34 percent said they’d vote against it.

    Mississippi

    Issue: Medical marijuana
    Status: Two competing measures have both qualified
    The questions:

    Initiative 65 (citizen initiated):

    Should Mississippi allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by Mississippi licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana?

    A citizen driven campaign, spearheaded by Mississippians for Compassionate Care, turned in over 200,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot in January to allow patients to access up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day time period.

    HC 39 (legislature approved):

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, That the following amendment to the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 is proposed to the qualified electors of the state at the November 2020 election, as an alternative to the amendment proposed by Initiative Measure No. 65:

    Article 16, Section 290, Mississippi Constitution of 1890, is created to read as follows: “Section 290. There is established a program in the State of Mississippi to allow the medical use of marijuana products by qualified persons. The program shall be structured to include, at a minimum, the following conditions and requirements:

    Members of the Mississippi state legislature approved an alternative ballot measure in March that will appear alongside Initiative 65 on the November ballot. Activists view this less clear, more restrictive initiative as an effort by lawmakers to undermine the will of the people and confuse voters at the polls. Under this proposal, patients would be prohibited from smoking whole-plant marijuana.

    South Dakota

    Issue: Medical & adult use marijuana
    Status: Two separate measures have both qualified
    The questions:

    Constitutional Amendment A (adult use):

    Title – An amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana; and to require the Legislature to pass laws regarding hemp as well as laws ensuring access to marijuana for medical use.

    If approved, the constitutional amendment would allow adults to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to three plants for personal use. The initiative is backed by a former federal prosecutor as well as the Marijuana Policy Project, a national advocacy organization.

    Initiative 26 (medical):

    Title – An initiated measure on legalizing marijuana for medical use.

    If approved, the statutory initiative would allow registered patients, with a physician’s approval, to purchase and possess up to three ounces of marijuana and grow up to three plants for therapeutic use.

    Arizona

    Issue: Adult use marijuana
    Status: Minimum # of signatures collected
    The proposal: Initiative 23: Smart and Safe Arizona, the campaign behind the ballot initiative, is confident that they have enough signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. With about 320,000 signatures already collected, they say they have about 80,000 signatures more than the 237,645 needed to qualify. The campaign is asking the state supreme court to allow electronic signature gathering due to COVID-19. If approved, the statutory measure would allow adults to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants for personal use. It also includes expungement and social equity provisions.

    Missouri

    Issue: Adult use marijuana
    Status: Campaign suspended
    The proposal: After launching the campaign early this year, Missourians for a New Approach, the group backing the initiative, most recently announced that they are suspending their campaign due to COVID-19 restrictions severely limiting their ability to collect in-person signatures. They had already collected about 80,000 signatures out of the needed 160,199 to qualify. The initiative would have allowed adults to purchase and possess marijuana from licensed retail outlets and grow up to three plants for personal use.

    Montana

    Issue: Adult use marijuana
    Status: Signature gathering suspended
    The proposal: A proposal to legalize marijuana for adults was submitted to the Secretary of State back in January by New Approach Montana, clearing the group to begin collecting the 25,468 signatures required to officially qualify for the November ballot. Most recently, activists sued the state, arguing that preventing electronic signature gathering is unconstitutional.

    North Dakota

    Issue: Adult use marijuana
    Status: Campaign suspended
    The proposal: Legalize ND, the group behind the failed 2018 legalization initiative, submitted another proposal to legalize marijuana for adults in the state late last year in hopes of qualifying for the November 2020 ballot. Most recently, the campaign announced its suspension due to the inability for the group to collect signatures in-person due to COVID-19. They needed 13,452 signatures before July 6 in order to qualify. The measure would have allowed adults to purchase and possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use.

    Oklahoma

    Issue: Adult use marijuana
    Status: Signature gathering suspended
    The proposal: SQ 807 would allow adults to legally purchase and possess marijuana for personal use. Advocates in the state say it is unlikely that collecting enough signatures would be feasible.

    Arkansas

    Issue: Adult use marijuana
    Status: Unclear
    The proposal: Arkansans for Cannabis Reform, the group behind the initiative, has already collected 15,000 signatures out of the required 89,151 to qualify an adult use legalization initiative. It is unclear whether the campaign will continue collecting signatures before the July 1 deadline.

    Nebraska

    Issue: Medical marijuana
    Status: Signature gathering suspended
    The proposal: Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, the campaign behind the initiative, announced that they are temporarily suspending signature gathering after being cleared to start collecting signatures over a year ago. They must collect about 130,000 signatures by July 8 in order to qualify. The constitutional amendment would have allowed qualifying patients, with a physician’s approval, to access medical marijuana and “discreetly” grow marijuana for therapeutic use.

    Idaho

    Issue: Medical marijuana
    Status: Signature gathering suspended
    The proposal: The Idaho Cannabis Coalition, the group backing the initiative, most recently announced that in-person signature gathering would be suspended due to COVID-19. They need to collect 55,057 signatures by May 1 in order to qualify, which is unlikely. They already collected about 40,000.

    California

    Issue: Marijuana and hemp regulations
    Status: Electronic signature gathering requested
    The proposal: The California Cannabis Hemp Heritage Act would make changes to the state’s licensing and taxation rules in an effort to expand access to marijuana. Most recently, celebrities Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith asked state officials to allow electronic signature gathering due to COVID-19.

  • by NORML April 22, 2020

    Ten members of the Senate, led by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and 34 members of the House, led by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Tom McClintock (R-CA), have recently issued letters requesting Small Business Administration funding programs be expanded so that they may be accessed by state-licensed cannabis businesses. 

    “With the majority of regulated states designating medical cannabis facilities as ‘essential’ to the health and welfare of the community during this time of crisis, it is critical that Congress authorizes the Small Business Association to similarly recognize their importance and to allow the agency to provide these small businesses with economic assistance to ensure public health, patient access, and continuity of care,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Many of these establishments are small-to-medium size operators, with their employees keeping their doors open without access to the support systems in place for other businesses, thus depriving them of potentially lifesaving protections.”

    Members of the Senate wrote:

    “Given the nature of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that every American small business has the capacity to protect the health and economic wellbeing of their community and workforce. Therefore, we ask Senate Leadership to include in any future relief package provisions to allow state-legal cannabis small businesses and the small businesses who work with this industry to access the critical SBA support they need during these challenging and unprecedented times.”

    You can find the full Senate letter here

    Members of the House wrote:

    “The COVID-19 outbreak is no time to permit federal policy to stand in the way of the reality that millions of Americans in states across the country face daily—that state-legal cannabis businesses are sources of economic growth and financial stability for thousands of workers and families, and need our support. Given the nature of the epidemic, we must ensure that everyone has the capacity to carry out the recommended public health and worker-focused measures. Without doing that, we risk undercutting the public health efforts nationwide.”

    You can find the full House letter here

    The state-licensed cannabis industry employs more than 240,000 American workers, over four times the number of American workers as does the coal industry. The majority of these businesses are small-to-medium in size.

    In the majority of jurisdictions that regulate cannabis marketplaces, lawmakers in recent weeks have designated these operations to be ‘essential’ to the health and well-being of the patient community. In others, regulators have either relaxed protocols or moved forward with new, emergency rules to facilitate expanded access – such as permitting patients to seek telemedicine appointments and allowing dispensaries to permit curbside pick-up and home delivery.

    A representative from the Small Business Administration previously acknowledged, “With the exception of businesses that produce or sell hemp and hemp-derived products (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Public Law 115-334), marijuana-related businesses are not eligible for SBA-funded services.”

    NORML has consistently been working with its Congressional allies to move forward several pieces of legislation, such as HR 3540: The Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act, and HR 3884/S 2227: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act – which “prohibit the Small Business Administration from declining to provide certain small business loans to an eligible entity solely because it is a cannabis-related legitimate business or service provider.”

    You can send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort by clicking here. 

  • by NORML April 15, 2020

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) recognizes that it is important to be compliant with state and federal guidelines regarding social and physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why, in the best interest of public health and safety, NORML is encouraging cannabis consumers not to congregate in groups either outdoors or indoors this 4/20.

    Instead, NORML encourages those who wish to express their support for marijuana policy reform this 4/20 to engage in the many online/virtual celebrations taking place throughout the day. A sampling of NORML-affiliated online events taking place this 4/20 is included below. NORML will update this list with additional events as they are announced.

    Furthermore, because NORML recognizes that cannabis consumers worldwide often celebrate 4/20 by engaging in some form of cannabis use, we are once again providing ‘best practices’ for consumers’ safety. These include:

    • Do not share your personal consumption devices with others;
    • Seek alternative delivery devices that mitigate or eliminate one’s exposure to combustive smoke;
    • Plan in advance — Avoid unnecessary trips to either marijuana retailers or dispensaries on 4/20, when these establishments may be more crowded than usual and physical distancing may be more difficult;
    • Avoid obtaining cannabis products, and vape-pens especially, from the unregulated market, as these products are of variable purity and quality and may be tainted with mold or adulterants.

    A complete guide to NORML’s ‘Responsible Consumer Safety Tips’ is online here.

    As of this writing, NORML staff and NORML affiliate chapters will be participating on 4/20 in the following live-streamed events:

    • Los Angeles NORML Digital Event: A NORML Party 50 Years in the Making (start time: 3:30PM PT, 4/19/20)
    • Texas NORML’s 420 Stream-A-Thon (start time: 12:30PM CT)
    • Nevada NORML & Culture and Cannabis Las Vegas present Stay Home/Stay High 420 Extravaganza
    • Time4Hemp Living Room Lovefest (start times: 8AM PT)
    • Seattle Hempfest Livestream Event (start time: 1PM PT)
    • Suncoast NORML 4/20 After Party (start time: 7PM ET)

    Enter the NORML 4/20 Giveaway

    Listings of other virtual events taking place on 4/20 is available from Leafly.com here.

    Be sure to follow NORML on Facebook on 4/20 at 4PM ET to join a live chat with NORML staff.

    Enter and share NORML’s 4/20 Membership Pack Giveaways on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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