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Legalization

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 12, 2018

    United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation today to remove low THC hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act and amend federal regulations to better facilitate industrial hemp production, research, and commerce.

    The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 allows states, not the federal government, to regulate hemp production and allocates grant funding to federally subsidize industrial hemp cultivation. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established agricultural crop.

    Senator McConnell said: “Today, with my colleagues, I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which will build upon the success of the hemp pilot programs and spur innovation and growth within the industry. By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans, we can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the county.”

    Senator McConnell previously shepherded federal reforms (Section 7606 of the Farm Bill) in 2014 permitting states to legally authorize hemp cultivation as part of academic research pilot programs. Over two-dozen states have established regulations permitting limited hemp cultivation under this provision. In 2017, state-licensed producers grew over 39,000 acres of hemp, up from roughly 16,000 acres in 2016.

    Separate legislation, HR 3530, is currently pending in the US House of Representatives to exclude low-THC strains of cannabis grown for industrial purposes from the federal definition of marijuana. That measure has 43 co-sponsors.

    To contact your members of Congress in support of this legislation, please click here!

  • by NORML March 13, 2018

    Legalize marijuanaDuring a budget address on Tuesday, March 13th, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy doubled down on his commitment to legalize marijuana in the Garden State this year.

    A budget overview document released in tandem with his address states that “this Administration plans to legalize adult-use marijuana by January 1, 2019. The State will also move forward with expanding access to medical marijuana to alleviate patient suffering. Governor Murphy is ready to end the cycle of non-violent, low-level drug offenses holding individuals back.”

    Governor Murphy campaigned heavily on a pledge to legalize marijuana and today’s address makes clear he continues to push forward on his promise. Recently, some legalization opponents have begun to push for a watered down version of decriminalization as a way to derail the fight for full legalization and regulation. Governor Murphy was having none of it.

    “Decriminalization alone will not put the corner dealer out of business, it will not help us protect our kids, and it will not end the racial disparities we see. If these are our goals – as they must be – then the only sensible option is the careful legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana sales to adults,” stated Murphy during his budget address.

    In addition to advocating for full legalization, Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy has already began a process to expand the state’s struggling medical marijuana program. In January, he signed an executive order calling on regulators to review the state’s eight-year-old medical cannabis access program and to recommend ways to increase participation from patients and physicians.

    “Our goal is to modernize the program in New Jersey, bring it up to current standards, and put patients first,” he said.

    IF YOU LIVE IN NEW JERSEY, CLICK HERE TO QUICKLY AND EASILY WRITE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS IN SUPPORT OF LEGALIZATION.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 6, 2018

    More than six in ten Michigan voters endorse a proposed statewide ballot initiative legalizing the adult use and sale of cannabis.

    According to polling data compiled by the EPIC-MRA polling research firm and commissioned by Michigan NORML, 61 percent of voters say that they would vote yes on the measure “if the election were held today.” That percentage is up four percentage points from last year, and is an increase of 11 percent since 2014.

    Commenting on the statewide polling, MINORML Board member Brad Forrester said: “I’m not surprised. These results are the product of Michigan NORML’s effective advocacy for the past several years.”

    Michigan NORML is a member of The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is backing the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

    In November, proponents turned in more than 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot. State officials must certify a total of 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters in order to place the initiative on the November 2018 ballot.

    Marijuana law reform advocates are continuing to gather signatures for voter-initiated efforts in Missouri and Utah. Proponents of a medical marijuana initiative in South Dakota have turned in their signatures and are awaiting a review by the Secretary of State’s office.

    In Oklahoma, voters will decide on June 26 whether or not to approve State Question 788 — a broad-based initiative that permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients at their sole discretion. NORML endorsed State Question 788 in January.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 27, 2018

    Gov LePage (R-Maine)

    State lawmakers are moving forward with a legislative proposal to significantly amend various provisions of the state’s 2016 voter-approved cannabis law: The Marijuana Legalization Act.

    Members of the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee have voted 16 to 1 in favor of overhauling the law, which has yet to be fully implemented. Lawmakers had initially voted last year to delay the enactment of provisions regulating the retail production and sale of cannabis. Then in November, Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed legislation that sought to license and regulate marijuana businesses and sales, stating: “Until I clearly understand how the federal government intends to treat states that seek to legalize marijuana, I cannot in good conscience support any scheme in state law to implement expansion of legal marijuana in Maine.” Lawmakers voted in favor of sustaining LePage’s veto.

    Now lawmakers are pushing a plan to amend and repeal numerous provisions of the law, including provisions that have already taken effect. Specifically, language in the new proposal would limit the quantity of mature marijuana plants that an adult may legally grow in a private residence from six to three. Legislators are advocating for this change despite the fact that no regulated, commercial market yet exists for cannabis — leaving adults reliant exclusively upon home cultivation operations. Further, no data has been presented indicating that the state’s existing plant quotas are either being abused or that home-cultivated marijuana is being diverted into the criminal market. NORML opposes this proposed amendment.

    “A majority of Maine voters decided in favor of legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana by adults,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said. “It is time for lawmakers to implement the will of the people, not undermine it.”

    Other language in the new proposal would repeal language permitting for the operation of state-licensed social use facilities, and would eliminate provisions redirecting portions of marijuana-related tax revenue to localities that explicitly permit such operations. Separate language in the bill seeks to impose a new 21.5 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transactions. The bill also makes it easier for communities that wish to ban adult use operations to do so.

    If you reside in Maine, you can use NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ to contact your lawmakers here.

    A finalized version of the bill is anticipated to go before lawmakers in the House and Senate in late March. Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth, the Implementation Committee’s House chairman, said that the so-called “compromises” in the plan are necessary because of the close nature of the 2016 vote and because the Governor has remained steadfastly opposed to the issue. Yet, even despite the proposed amendments, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette predicts that LePage will likely veto this committee bill too.

    In Massachusetts, where voters approved a similar 2016 initiative regulating the adult use and retail sale of cannabis, regulators this week also announced delays and changes to the voter-approved law. On Monday, following pressure from the Governor and other lawmakers, members of the Cannabis Control Commission voted for a limited rollout of retail marijuana sales in July — postponing licenses for home delivery services, marijuana lounges, and other distribution channels until early next year. Commercial marijuana production and sales were initially slated to begin on January 1, 2018, but lawmakers last year passed emergency legislation postponing the enactment of those regulatory provisions until this summer.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 22, 2018

    The enactment of statewide laws regulating the use and distribution of cannabis for medical purposes is not associated with increased marijuana use among young people, according to a review of relevant studies published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.

    Investigators from Columbia University, the RAND Corporation, the University of California at Davis, and the Boston School of Public Health reviewed 11 studies developed from four ongoing national surveys. The studies were published between the years 1991 and 2014. None of the studies identified any significant changes in youth use patterns that could be attributable to changes in marijuana’s legal status.

    Authors concluded: “[A]ll estimates of pre–post changes in past-month marijuana use within MML (medical marijuana law) states from these studies were non-significant. … In summary, current evidence does not support the hypothesis that MML passage is associated with increased marijuana use prevalence among adolescents in states that have passed such laws.”

    One of the study’s senior authors, Dr. Deborah Hasin, further stated in an accompanying press release, “For now, there appears to be no basis for the argument that legalizing medical marijuana has increased teens’ use of the drug.”

    The findings are consistent with those of numerous prior studies, including a federally funded 2015 study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry that assessed marijuana use patterns of over one-million adolescents in 48 states. That paper concluded, [C]oncerns that increased marijuana use is an unintended effect of state marijuana laws seem unfounded.”

    Separate studies report that teens’ use of marijuana and access to cannabis have declined significantly over the better part of the past two decades – during the same time that the majority of states enacted medical marijuana access programs. Data from states that regulate the adult use and sale of cannabis similarly fail to report any associated uptick in either youth use or marijuana access.

    Text of the study, “Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the United States: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” is not yet available online.

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