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Legislative Update

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director September 25, 2019

    Members of the House of Representatives voted 321 to 103 in favor of HR 1595: The SAFE Banking Act, which amends federal law so that explicitly banks and other financial institutions may work directly with state-legal marijuana businesses. 

    Two-hundred and twenty-nine Democrats and 91 Republicans cast ‘yes’ votes in favor of the measure.

    This historic vote marks the first time ever that a chamber of Congress has ever held a successful floor vote on a stand-alone piece of marijuana reform legislation. 

    Today’s vote is a significant victory for the cannabis reform movement and here’s why: for the first time ever, a supermajority of the House voted affirmatively to recognize that the legalization and regulation of marijuana is a superior public policy to prohibition and criminalization. 

    Now we look to the Senate, where we are cautiously optimistic. Given the strong bipartisanship of the House vote, coupled with Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo’s recent pledge to hold a markup on this issue, we believe that Congress’ appetite to resolve this important issue has never been greater.

    But we are not done. In fact, we’re just getting started. 

    Why NORML Supports Passage of HR 1595: The Safe Banking Act:

    Federal law currently defines all marijuana-related endeavors as criminal enterprises, including those commercial activities that are licensed and legally regulated under state laws. Therefore, almost no state-licensed cannabis businesses can legally obtain a bank account, process credit cards, or provide loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

    In this environment, the rapidly growing multi-billion dollar cannabis industry must operate largely on a cash-only basis, which makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. This ongoing federal prohibition also places the safety and welfare of these businesses’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities. For these reasons, NORML has long advocated that federal lawmakers vote “yes” on The SAFE Banking Act.

    What’s Next?

    Today’s vote is a significant first step, but it must not be the last. Much more action will still need to be taken by lawmakers. In the Senate, we demand that lawmakers in the Senate Banking Committee hold true to their commitment to move expeditiously in support of similar federal reforms. And in the House, we anticipate additional efforts to move forward and pass comprehensive reform legislation like The MORE Act — which is sponsored by the Chair of the House Judiciary — in order to ultimately comport federal law with the new political and cultural realities surrounding marijuana.

    Now Is the Time to Demand Congress Do MORE.

    Now that House members have overwhelmingly shown their support for HR 1595, it is time for them to address more comprehensive reform legislation, namely The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act.

    Introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the MORE Act is bipartisan legislation that removes the marijuana plant from the Controlled Substances Act, thereby descheduling the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own regulatory policies absent the threat of federal interference.

    But, perhaps most importantly, the MORE Act seeks to address many of the past wrongs of marijuana criminalization. Specifically, it would appropriate a portion of the federal taxes collected from the legal industry to pay for the expungement of past criminal records and to partially fund reentry services, job training, and community improvements in jurisdictions that have been most disproportionately impacted by war on marijuana. Furthermore, the MORE Act additional allocates a portion of the federal taxes collected to the Small Business Administration to support small businesses and entrepreneurs who seek to engage in the emerging legal marketplaces. 

    Strike while the iron is hot and send a message to your lawmakers in support of ending prohibition NOW!

    Take time today to tell your members of Congress that their work is far from over. Nearly one in four Americans now reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal and it is time for members of Congress to stand up for their rights and liberties. 

    Thank you again for your support for NORML and for being on the right side of history. We could never have gotten this far without you, and with your continued support we know that we can ultimately secure cannabis freedom in our time. 

     

    Our educational and advocacy efforts are supported by thousands of people throughout the country as we work to advance marijuana reform in all 50 states and the federal level. Can you kick in $5, $10 or $20 a month to help us keep going?

  • by Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director July 1, 2019

    Three new laws intended to expand patient access to and the therapeutic value of Virginia’s medical cannabis program take effect July 1, 2019.

    “Patient access is critical to the success of Virginia’s medical cannabis program,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML’s development director and executive director of Virginia NORML. “These bills help ensure that all patients are able to obtain and use the necessary therapeutic doses of their cannabis medicines regardless of location or physical ability.”

     

    Virginia Senator Siobhan Dunnavant

    Virginia Senator Siobhan Dunnavant

    PRODUCTS AND PRACTITIONERS

    Virginia medical cannabis patients can now look forward to a greater range of products available in full therapeutic strengths thanks to Senator Dunnavant’s SB1557. Previously, Virginia’s five licensed medical cannabis providers, called pharmaceutical processors, would have been limited to dispensing only oils when they open their doors later this year. Now, patients can expect to see products typical of compounding pharmacies, like capsules, topicals, lozenges, lollipops, and suppositories, with an allowance of up to 10 milligrams of THC each.

    “The historic passage of my Let Doctors Decide bill in 2018 allows practitioners to recommend medical cannabis for their patients as they see fit,” said Senator Dunnavant, a medical doctor from Henrico. “This year, my focus was on program improvements to further expand both access and therapeutic value to benefit the health and well-being of all Virginians.”

    SB1557 also allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to register with the Board of Pharmacy to issue the necessary written certifications for medical cannabis to patients.

     

    Virginia Senator Dave Marsden and Virginia NORML Board Member Tamara Netzel

    Virginia Senator Dave Marsden and Virginia NORML Board Member Tamara Netzel

    REGISTERED AGENTS

    Senator Marsden’s SB1719 adds “registered agents” for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities, and those who rely on home healthcare providers. SB1719 ensures that patients will have greater access to the medicines they need, a key element of continuity needed for the success of any health system.

    It is patients like Tamara Lyn Netzel, a teacher from Alexandria who suffers from multiple sclerosis, who stand to benefit from this legislation.

    “Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease with severe symptoms that come and go, so I’ve accepted at some point I may not be able to drive a car safely or leave my home,” said Netzel. “It is comforting to know I will still be able to send my husband to get the medicine I need.”

    “We continue to tweak the law regarding cannabis oils. This year, we created the ability for registered agents to receive the medicine in the name of the patient as many people are disabled and unable to come to the door to receive a delivery. We will continue to make use of these oils more user-friendly now that members of the General Assembly are confident in the safety of these products,” said Senator Marsden, of Fairfax County.

    Virginia Delegate Chris Hurst speaks to HB1720

    Virginia Delegate Chris Hurst speaks to HB1720

    SCHOOL-USE

    Companion bills by Delegate Chris Hurst, HB1720, and Senator Glen Sturtevant, SB1632, aren’t just progressive for Virginia, they’re progressive for the nation. Today, Virginia becomes the fourth state to allow school healthcare providers to administer medical cannabis to registered student patients just as they would any other medication.

    “Virginia is moving in the right direction to ensure patients and doctors can choose treatments that are right for them. I’m proud that HB1720 will allow students on campus to legally and safely access their medication” said Delegate Hurst of District 12.

    Virginia NORML has worked diligently alongside these legislators in their continued efforts to advance patient-focused medical cannabis policies.

    “These common sense clarifications to the regulations will make for a smoother system, and better outcomes for patients, providers, and the community at large,” Pedini said of their success in the 2019 General Assembly.

     

    For more information on Virginia’s medical cannabis program visit Virginia Medical Cannabis FAQs.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator June 23, 2019

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

    This week, history was made. For the first time ever, the U.S. House of Representatives just voted to restrict the Department of Justice from interfering with the states that have legalized adult-use marijuana.

    Also this week, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing to discuss the economic and employment opportunities in the emerging legal cannabis industry and the challenges that federal prohibition and criminalization pose in regards to the Small Business Administration.

    New York state lawmakers approved legislation on Friday to further expand cannabis decriminalization and expunge certain records. The bill now heads to the Governor.

    Governor Kate Brown (D) signed legislation into law to to automatically conduct a review of past misdemeanor cannabis convictions, and to “set aside” offenses that are no longer a crime under state law.

    Governor John Bel Edwards (D) of Louisiana signed legislation into law to deschedule hemp and hemp-derived CBD from the state’s list of controlled substances.

    Activists in Nebraska working to qualify a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative are almost 10,000 signatures deep.

    At a more local level, the district attorney for Monroe County, New York will no longer prosecute cases involving low-level cannabis possession.

    California

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 223, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

    Update: SB 223 was heard and approved by the Assembly Education Committee on 6/19/19. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee on 6/25/19.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access at school

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 34, which would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

    Update: SB 34 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Revenue And Taxation Committee on 7/2/19.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of compassionate care programs

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 51, to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

    Update: SB 51 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Business And Professions Committee on 7/9/19.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of banking access

    Delaware

    Bipartisan legislation is pending, Senate Bill 37, that would reform the expungement processes for individuals convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses.

    If enacted, the bill would expand the pool of those eligible to seek expungement to include those convicted of a single misdemeanor or felony charge related to marijuana.

    Update: SB 37 was reported out of the House Appropriations Committee on its merits (recommending that action be taken, without specifying what that action should be).

    DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 45, to amend certain marijuana penalties for juvenile offenders.

    Under state law, adults face civil penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses. Senate Bill 45 would make this policy consistent for juvenile offenders.

    Update: SB 45 was approved by the Senate on 6/20/19, and now heads to the House. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health & Human Development Committee on 6/27/19.

    DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of juvenile decriminalization

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 24, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

    The measure would give doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe will benefit from its therapeutic use.

    Update: SB 24 was reported out of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee on its merits on 6/20/19.

    DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of letting doctors, not politicians, decide

    Massachusetts

    Legislation is pending, S. 978, that would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume marijuana off-the-job in accordance with state law.

    Update: S. 978 was heard by the Joint Committee on The Judiciary on 6/17/19.

    MA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of consumer employment protections

    North Carolina

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 315, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: S. 315 was approved by the Senate on 6/17/19, and now heads to the House. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on 6/25/19.

    NC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    New Jersey

    Recently introduced legislation, A20, seeks to significantly expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

    The measure facilitates the expansion of additional medical cannabis providers, while also expanding the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. It allows limited social consumption spaces, reciprocity for out-of-state patients, shields registered patients from employment discrimination and the loss of child custody, and phases out retail sales taxes on medical cannabis, among other changes.

    Update: A20 was approved by the Assembly and Senate on 6/20/19, and now heads to the governor’s desk.

    NJ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis expansion

    Wisconsin

    Legislation is pending, AB 206 / SB 188, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: The Senate Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions Committee held a work session in SB 188 on 6/19/19.

    WI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator June 14, 2019

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

    The U.S. House of Representatives’ Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on the challenges and opportunities small businesses face in the cannabis industry. Another hearing is scheduled for Thursday, where the Veterans Affairs Committee will discuss various bills that are pending regarding medical cannabis programs and veterans access.

    Governor John Bel Edwards (D) of Louisiana signed legislation into law giving patients the option to inhale medical cannabis through vaporization.

    Governor Doug Ducey (R) of Arizona signed legislation into law to establish medical cannabis testing standards.

    Governor Janet Mills (D) of Maine signed legislation into law facilitating reciprocity for out-of-state medical cannabis patients visiting Maine.

    Governor Kay Ivey (R) of Alabama signed legislation into law to create a commission to study medical CBD.

    Activists in Mississippi have collected approximately two thirds of the needed signatures to qualify a medical cannabis ballot initiative in 2020.

    Ohio’s State Medical Board denied petitions to add depression, insomnia and opioid use disorder to the state’s list of medical cannabis qualifying conditions. The Board delayed consideration of adding autism and anxiety.

    At a more local level, the Cincinnati, Ohio city council approved a measure to decriminalize up to 100 grams of cannabis possession.

    Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Actions to Take

    Federal

    The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

    Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of this important legislation

    California

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 34, which would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

    Update: SB 34 was heard and approved by the Assembly Business And Professions Committee on 6/11/19.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of compassionate care programs

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 305, to permit qualified patients the ability to access medical cannabis preparations while in health care facilities.

    Update: SB 305 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Health Committee on 7/2/19.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expanded medical access

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 51, to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

    Update: SB 51 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Banking And Finance Committee on 6/24/19.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of banking access

    Delaware

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 24, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

    The measure would give doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe will benefit from its therapeutic use.

    Update: SB 24 is scheduled for a hearing in the Health & Social Services Committee on 6/17/19 at 2:30pm in the Senate Hearing Room.

    DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of letting doctors, not politicians, decide

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 459, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: The House disagreed with the Senate’s amendments to HB 459, so the bill now heads to conference committee for reconciliation.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    North Carolina

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 315, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: S. 315 was heard and approved by the Committee on Judiciary on 6/11/19, and was then heard by the Committee on Finance on 6/12.

    NC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator June 7, 2019

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

    This week, the Appropriations Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives has for the first time included limited protections for cannabis businesses engaged in the legal marketplaces in 33 states.

    Governor Steve Sisolak (D) of Nevada signed legislation into law that prohibits certain employers from refusing to hire a worker because he or she tested positive for cannabis, as well as legislation encouraging financial institutions to work with licensed marijuana businesses and to process financial transactions and separate legislation to allow industrial hemp production.

    Governor Kate Brown (D) of Oregon signed legislation into law that prohibits landlords from arbitrarily refusing to provide housing access to an individual based solely on their status as a medical cannabis patient, or based solely on an individual’s prior cannabis conviction.

    Governor John Bel Edwards (D) of Louisiana signed legislation into law to allow the production of industrial hemp and hemp-derived CBD products.

    Nebraska activists are almost 1,400 signatures deep in hopes of qualifying a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative.

    Connecticut physicians can now recommend medical cannabis to those with five additional conditions, after the Board of Physicians recommended adding interstitial cystitis; medial arcuate ligament syndrome, or MALS syndrome; and vulvodynia and vulvar burning; Tourette syndrome; and intractable neuropathic pain that is unresponsive to standard medical treatments.

    Similarly, New Mexico’s Department of Health added Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, Friedreich’s Ataxia, Lewy Body Disease, and Spinal muscular atrophy to the state’s list of medical cannabis qualifying conditions.

    Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Actions to Take

    Federal

    The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

    Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of this important legislation

    California

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 223, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

    The measure permits a parent or guardian to administer medical cannabis to their child patient on school grounds in a non-smoking and non-vaping form.

    Update: SB 223 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Education Committee on 6/19/19.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis access at school

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 34, which would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

    Update: SB 34 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Business And Professions Committee on 6/11/2019 at 9:30am in the State Capitol, room 4202.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of compassionate care programs

    Delaware

    Lawmakers in Delaware are considering legislation, House Bill 110, to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use.

    Update: HB 110 was approved by the House Revenue and Finance Committee on 6/5/19.

    DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of this effort

    Louisiana

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 358, to give qualified patients the option to inhale cannabis for medical purposes through vaporization.

    Update: HB 358 was approved by the Senate on 6/3/19, and now heads to the governor’s desk.

    LA resident? Click here to email your governor in support of medical cannabis inhalation

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 507, to exempt “marijuana recommended for therapeutic use” from state and local sales and use taxes.

    Update: HB 507 was approved by the Senate an House on 6/4/19, and now heads to the governor’s desk.

    LA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis tax exemptions

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 138, to remove hemp and “cannabidiol when contained in a drug product approved by the FDA,” from the list of controlled substances.

    Update: HB 138 was approved by the Senate on 6/3/19, and now heads to the governor’s desk.

    LA resident? Click here to email your governor in support of descheduling hemp

    North Carolina

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 315, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: S. 315 was approved by the Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee on 6/6/19.

    NC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    Ohio

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 57, to establish an industrial hemp pilot program to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 57 was heard and approved by the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on 6/4/19.

    OH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    Oregon

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 420, to expand upon Oregon’s expungement law.

    The measure would direct the Department of Justice to automatically conduct a review of past misdemeanor cannabis convictions, and to “set aside” offenses that are no longer a crime under state law.

    Update: SB 420 was approved by the House of Representatives on 6/3/19, and now heads to the governor’s desk.

    OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

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