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Legislative Update

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate August 24, 2018

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

    In Congress this week, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and six cosponsors introduced a bill that would remove the penalty that strips college financial aid from students with drug convictions. Also, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) filed an amendment that would require the federal government to study the monetary and health impacts of state marijuana legalization. A Senate floor vote could occur in the coming days.

    At the state level, Oklahoma’s secretary of state determined that activists failed to collect enough signatures to qualify a marijuana legalization measure for the ballot, and the legislature’s medical marijuana working group took public testimony on Wednesday.  And state Rep. Jake Wheatley of Pennsylvania launched an online petition to build support for a marijuana legalization bill he plans to introduce.

    New Jersey’s Senate president said he has the votes to pass marijuana legalization and medical cannabis expansion bills next month. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he hopes lawmakers will pass a marijuana legalization bill this year. Separately, New Jersey’s attorney general does not plan to extend a moratorium on marijuana prosecutions when it expires next month and will instead issue a memo telling prosecutors that they can use their own discretion not to pursue cannabis cases.

    The California Senate approved a bill to allow safe consumption sites for illegal drugs, and the Assembly defeated a bill to allow medical cannabis administration at schools and one to allow financial institutions to work with the cannabis industry.

    There are also still a few bills pending before Governors around the country, including two bills in Delaware concerning medical marijuana program expansion and expunging past records, and two bills in Illinois awaiting action from the Governor concerning industrial hemp expansion and allowing cannabis as an alternative to opioids. It’s TBD on if/when these bills will be signed into law.

    At a more local level, Activists in Norwood, Ohio collected enough signatures to place a marijuana depenalization measure on the November ballot, but local police said they will continue charging people under state law even if voters approve the initiative.

    The Eau Claire County, Wisconsin Board voted to put a marijuana advisory question before voters. The Kenosha County, Wisconsin Board placed a medical cannabis advisory question on the November ballot. So did the Forest County, Wisconsin Board. But the Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin Board killed a proposed marijuana advisory ballot question.

    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

    California

    Assembly Bill 1793 seeks to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.

    Update: AB 1793 was approved by the Senate with a 28-10 vote and now awaits action from Governor Brown.

    CA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of expungement

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate August 17, 2018

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

    At the state level, North Dakota’s secretary of state’s office determined that activists collected enough signatures to qualify a far-reaching marijuana legalization initiative for the November ballot. The campaign behind one Missouri medical cannabis initiative filed lawsuits seeking to block two other measures from appearing on the ballot.The measure sets no limits on possession amounts or plant counts.

    New Jersey’s Senate president said lawmakers are close to agreeing on a final draft of a marijuana legalization bill and that a vote could happen next month. The Oklahoma legislature’s medical marijuana working group heard concerns from law enforcement at a meeting and Utah lawmakers met in an interim committee to discuss medical cannabis issues.

    At a more local level, activists in Nelsonville, Ohio are submitting new petitions for a proposed marijuana depenalization ballot measure after errors were identified with their first attempt and activists in Fremont, Ohio qualified a marijuana depenalization measure for the November ballot. The Sacramento, California City Council approved an equity plan intended to let people impacted by the war on drugs participate in the legal cannabis industry.

    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 Cannabis Criminalization: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

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

    Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    House Bill 20-178 seeks to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis in the US territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and would also allow medical marijuana and industrial hemp. HB 20-178 was re-introduced by Rep. Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) after amending SB 20-62 by Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan) since the latter’s bill had revenue-generating sections that led to procedural issues. The bill was already approved by the House earlier this month.

    Update: The bill is expected to unanimously pass and could be on Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ desk before the year ends.

    CNMI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization

    California

    Assembly Bill 1793 seeks to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence. The bill was already approved by the Assembly earlier this year.

    Update: AB 1793 was heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee again on 8/16, and approved by the committee with a 5-2 vote.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

    Senate Bill 829 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. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.

    Update: SB 829 was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee with a 12-0 vote on 8/16.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of helping needy patients

    Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

    Update: SB 930 was heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 8/16, and then tabled by the committee, killing the bill for this year.

    That’s all for this week!

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate August 3, 2018

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

    Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-GA) filed a new bill in the US House of Representatives this week to shield federal employees from being fired for marijuana use that is legal in the state in which they live.

    The Oklahoma Board of Health reversed course this week and revoked their previous set of proposed rules that went against the intent of SQ 788, which voters approved in the June special election. This reversal comes shortly after the state’s Attorney General warned health officials that they “acted in excess of their statutory authority” when they amended State Question 788. These new rules now go to Governor Fallin’s desk, she has 45 days to approve or reject them. As a reminder, the proposed rules remove the ban on the retail sale of herbal cannabis, eliminate the requirement that dispensaries hire state-licensed pharmacists, and no longer mandate that women of childbearing age undergo a pregnancy test prior to receiving a medical cannabis recommendation.

    Missouri’s secretary of state certified that three separate medical cannabis initiatives have enough signatures to appear on the November ballot. The Missouri Constitution specifies that if conflicting initiative measures appear on the same ballot, the one which receives the most votes will prevail. It is likely that all three of these measures will have the support of a majority of the voters. Two are constitutional amendments and the third is a statutory initiative.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) formed a working group to draft marijuana legalization legislation for the legislature to consider in 2019. And Hawaii regulators convened a working group to address employment issues for medical cannabis patients as well as edibles manufacturing.

    Also at the state level, about half of the medical cannabis dispensaries in Pennsylvania began selling medical cannabis in herbal form to registered patients, and the other half are anticipated to do the same this coming week. And Rhode Island medical cannabis dispensaries began serving out-of-state patients.

    Additionally, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill allowing medical cannabis in schools. Also, autism and obstructive sleep apnea became Minnesota medical cannabis qualifying conditions on Wednesday.

    At a more local level, Manhattan’s district attorney announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana use or possession.

    The Racine, Wisconsin City Council is considering placing a marijuana legalization advisory question on the November ballot, and similarly, the Eau Claire County, Wisconsin Administration Committee voted to advance consideration of marijuana advisory ballot questions. The Oregon, Ohio City Council placed a marijuana depenalization measure on the November ballot, but a proposed Nelsonville, Ohio marijuana decriminalization measure did not qualify for the November ballot.

    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 Cannabis Criminalization: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

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

    Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    Senate Bill 20-62 seeks to legalize the personal use and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for adults age 21 or older, and establish a licensing scheme for its commercial production and retail sale. The tax revenue would be used to fund the implementation of the program and other government services.

    Update: The House of Representatives sent SB 20-62 back to committee on 8/1, but will soon introduce its own version of the legislation that should solve procedural issues around it being a revenue generating measure.

    CNMI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization and regulation

    California

    Expungement

    Assembly Bill 1793 seeks “to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.

    Update: AB 1793 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 8/6 at 10am in the John L. Burton Hearing Room.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

    Banking

    Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

    Update: SB 9030 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 8/8 at 9am in the State Capitol, Room 4202.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access for cannabis businesses

    That’s all the legislative updates for this week!

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate July 27, 2018

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

    We’ve got a new piece of legislation at the federal level. In conjunction with NORML’s 2018 Lobby Day, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) introduced The Marijuana Data Collection Act. The act calls upon the National Academy of Sciences to collect and synthesize relevant data and to generate a formal report to Congress quantifying the impact of statewide marijuana legalization on matters specific to public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues. The report would also outline best practices for state-led data collection, as well as recommendations to overcome any barriers preventing data collection and gaps in data. Watch the press conference.

    Earlier in the week, the US House Rules Committee led by prohibitionist Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) blocked two amendments related to marijuana from receiving consideration by the full House, thus ending their consideration and silencing the ability for the lower chamber to offer protections from the DOJ when it comes to cannabis. The amendments included allowing the District of Columbia to implement adult-use sales program, originally passed by voters in 2014, and protections for banks to provide services to marijuana businesses.

    At the state level, New Jersey’s state Attorney General has called on county and municipal prosecutors to suspend all marijuana-related prosecutions until early September. Also, a fiscal report issued by Pennsylvania’s Auditor General estimates that taxing Pennsylvania’s existing retail cannabis market would yield $581 million in new annual revenue. The report estimates that just under 800,000 Pennsylvanians are currently using cannabis. On that note, Pennsylvania dispensaries are set to begin selling medical cannabis in flower form this week.

    Oklahoma’s secretary of state said that proposed marijuana legalization and medical cannabis expansion initiatives are unlikely to appear on the November ballot even if they do collect enough signatures. But regulators will meet on August 1 to revisit widely criticized restrictive medical cannabis rules. The newly proposed changes eliminate several restrictive amendments enacted by the Department earlier this month, including removing the ban on the retail sale of herbal cannabis, eliminating the requirement that dispensaries hire state-licensed pharmacists, and no longer mandating that women of childbearing age undergo a pregnancy test prior to receiving a medical cannabis recommendation. No such restrictions initially appeared in the voter approved State Question 788. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that lawmakers will go into special session to deal with medical marijuana implementation.

    At a more local level, the Marathon County, Wisconsin Board voted to place a medical cannabis advisory question on the November ballot. The Ostego County, Michigan Board of Commissioners voted to oppose the state’s marijuana legalization ballot measure, and the Grand Rapids, Michigan City Commission voted to allow medical cannabis businesses in its jurisdiction.

    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 Cannabis Criminalization: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

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

    California

    Assembly Bill 1793 seeks “to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.

    Update: AB 1793 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 8/6 at 10am in the John L. Burton Hearing Room.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

    Kentucky

    House Bill 166 seeks to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions.

    Update: Rep. Jason Nemes, one of the bill’s cosponsors, announced on Twitter that the bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on 9/7.

    KY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical cannabis access

    That’s all for this week!

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

    Late Monday night, the House Rules Committee led by prohibitionist Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) blocked two amendments related to marijuana from receiving consideration by the full House, thus ending their consideration and silencing the ability for the lower chamber to offer protections from Attorney General Jeff Sessions when it comes to cannabis.

    The amendments included allowing the District of Columbia to implement adult-use sales program, originally passed by voters in 2014, and protections for banks to provide services to marijuana businesses.

    In a release sent out earlier today containing the testimony by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), the Congresswoman stated:

    My first amendment, cosponsored by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher, Barbara Lee and Earl Blumenauer, strikes the rider that prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds to commercialize recreational marijuana.  Nine states have legalized recreational marijuana, and eight of those states have approved commercialization.

    In February 2015, D.C. legalized the possession of marijuana for recreational use, after two independent studies found dramatic racial disparities in marijuana arrests in D.C.  A rider to block recreational use failed due to faulty drafting, and possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for recreational use is legal in D.C., but Congress has prohibited D.C. from spending its local funds to tax and regulate recreational marijuana.  This rider has unintentionally benefited violent drug gangs.  For that reason, some refer to it as the “Drug Dealer Protection Act.”  As one marijuana dealer told the Washington Post, the rider is “a license for me to print money.”  Regulating marijuana like alcohol would allow D.C., instead of drug dealers, to control production, distribution, sales and revenues.

     

    The banking amendment was introduced by Rep Denny Heck (D-WA), who Marijuana Moment first reported as testifying:

    “Our federal laws are outdated. The people in this country want the law to treat marijuana as we do alcohol. These large sums of cash make dispensaries an obvious target for robberies.”

     

    Earlier in the year, the Senate included existing protections for medical marijuana programs from the Department of Justice for the FY19 Appropriations Bill to restrict federal funds from being used for enforcement actions. The House Appropriations Committee passed identical language offered by Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) meaning that maintaining these protections will be considered in the annual conference committee and likely stay in effect.

    This was not the first time the Republican Congressman Pete Sessions, who is known to steer the Rules Committee with an iron fist, blocked marijuana-related amendments.

    He is currently being challenged by attorney, former NFL player, and former Special Assistant in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of General Counsel Colin Allred. You can find out more about Allred’s campaign here.

    Send a message to your federally elected officials in support of comprehensive reform legislation in our Action Center: http://norml.org/act

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