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Lobby Day

  • by Nevada NORML January 2, 2019

    With a new year on the horizon, members of Nevada and Las Vegas NORML wanted to take time to shine light on 18 of our most memorable moments from 2018. (It was hard to choose just 18!)

    January 2018: Protested Jeff Sessions

    We certainly didn’t expect the opportunity to protest Jeff Sessions alongside Congresswoman Dina Titus and State Senators Aaron Ford & Tick Segerblom at the Apothecary Shoppe Dispensary with every news outlet present, but it happened! We loved the chance to stand up for the State of Nevada and to be able to show our community that we are a strong voice of the people!

    February 2018: Dr. Dabber became a sponsor

    Yeah, that freaking happened! It was such an honor to have a company like Dr. Dabber, that we all know and respect, believe in our work and sponsor us! Together, we were able to provide record sealing services and great education throughout Las Vegas. They were even cool enough to offer hella deals to NORML members!

    January – March 2018: Partnering with Harrison House

    Throughout the earlier part of 2018, we had the great pleasure of volunteering for Harrison House, which was the 1st African American Guest House in Las Vegas during a very segregated time. In learning about Las Vegas’ history from a perspective that isn’t often discussed, we got a firm grasp on how marijuana has undisputedly been a tool used for oppression. This only reaffirmed that social justice needs to be a priority when discussing marijuana policy in this community. We participated in gardening and yard clean up at Harrison House, held a Black History month panel together, and helped with a Mardi Gras neighborhood celebration.

    April 2018: “Setting the Record Straight” Program

    Instead of hosting a 420 bash this past April, we decided to focus on having community impact through restorative justice. Finding lawyers like Garrett Ogata and Nick Wooldridge to refer prior marijuana conviction victims to, was invaluable! We created a dope set of resources to give to people interested in sealing their record and held an educational seminar educating them on the steps. We will continue to provide education on record sealing in Nevada throughout 2019 and help clients find financial assistance to do so when qualified!

    May 2018: Primary Voting Rally

    The 2018 midterms were NO JOKE. This was our first year dabbling in the candidacy aspects of things, but quickly learned the value of being an educated voter and focusing on primary elections. We held a press conference with our National NORML Political Director, Justin Strekal, a voter registration event at 7th & Carson in downtown Las Vegas, and even did phone banking to encourage voting in primaries all throughout May. It was amazing to see an increase in younger voters registering!

    June 2018: Collected 79 Candidate Surveys from across Nevada

    Nobody said it was going to be easy, and it definitely wasn’t, but it was really rewarding showing voters statewide how candidates felt on specific marijuana related issues. Because of the hard work from National NORML, we helped produce the Smoke the Vote platform for voters to refer to, and the feedback we got was incredible!

    July 2018: Social Use Venue Advocacy

    The City of Las Vegas began drafting ordinances for social consumption this year, and we were proud to show up and voice our concerns on the record. Although it has still not been remedied, Las Vegas NORML members advocated strongly against 24 hr surveillance fed directly to law enforcement and raised concerns about mixing cannabis with alcohol. This will continue to be an area we advocate for throughout 2019 because of the intersectionality with criminal justice reforms and consumer protections. We hope that with the introduction of social lounges, tourists and residents will both have legal places to consume!

    July 2018: Lobby Day in DC

    Each year, NORML activists from around the nation gather in D.C. to engage their lawmakers in marijuana policy reform. We are proud of the relationships we developed with Congress throughout this time and are confident that we can achieve great things together! D.C. can be an intimidating place, but we are loving the chance to navigate it again in 2019.

    August 2018: Public Meetings at Acres

    Earlier this year, Acres Cannabis Dispensary was kind enough to offer their space in the Underground to Las Vegas NORML and our members! Every first Wednesday of the month, we host a free educational meeting that is open to adults 21 or older.  A huge part of our mission includes providing education to the community, so having this valuable space has been a huge blessing!

    September 2018: Election Education & Voter Reinstatement

    This past election cycle, we focused really hard on not only educating the community, but our board too. We worked really closely with Aaron from Restore Your Vote to learn more about how those with a criminal history can reinstate their right to vote. It’s a very common misconception that if you had a past marijuana conviction, you are ineligible to vote in Nevada, but we found out this is not solely the case. We are truly passionate about being a voice for those who have lost hope and love being able to provide resources to help educate them.

    October 2018: Hung with Keith Stroup & National NORML

    It’s not everyday that the founder of NORML is in your hometown! It was an absolutely memorable experience to have Keith here to help us host a voter rally at the World Famous ‘Cannabition’ Cannabis Museum in downtown Vegas! We even had the pleasure of meeting several other members of the National NORML board, too. We consider it a great privilege that we were able to show them our city and more of our work on a local level!

    October 2018: Pumpkin Bongs at Cheba Hut

    Our cool friends over at Cheba Hut Toasted Subs let us throw down some pumpkin carving for our October Informal with NORML, and we ran with it! Who doesn’t make bongs and steamrollers out of fall vegetables?!

    November 2018: Jeff Sessions is OUT and Cannabis friendly legislators are IN!

    What a relief that Sessions’ is finally gone and we can start to progress Marijuana policy at the federal level. Cannabis friendly Governors and Commissioners are taking over Nevada and the West in general. We have a lot of conversations to have with new office holders, but it’s never been easier now that 66% of Americans support legalizing marijuana!

    November 2018: Herban Expo

    Las Vegas NORML was the education sponsor for the inaugural Herban Expo at the Rio and coordinated over 25 educational presentations and panels over the course of 3 days! It was really impressive to see how much our community came out to listen to the speakers and the engagement it created. Herban Expo will 100% be back in 2019!

    November 2018: 600 letters to Congress

    Yep, you read that right…We collected 600 physical letters to members of Congress with the help of Denver NORML in just one weekend in Las Vegas! We set a goal, and people like you helped us reach it by making a small effort to tell Congress that marijuana reform is important!

    December 2018: “Access for All” Patient Voucher Program

    It’s been truly challenging for us to figure out a way to help patients in the state of Nevada because of regulation often making it impossible to provide medicine to those who need it. We are so eternally grateful that we have finally found local businesses like Sweet Cannabis and The Source to help distribute cannabis to patients who qualify. We look forward to building this program out even more in 2019! Visit lvnorml.org/patients for more info

    And some year-long focuses we are especially proud of:

    Progression and development of media

    We were really fortunate to gain really talented media pros and graphic designers as volunteers this year to help us develop more interesting content. Hella props to friends like Rev from Rocester NORML and Mrs. Rex 420 here in Vegas for helping us design digital content this year! Weed TV, Vegas Cannabis Magazine and Kool Katz Media were also incredible blessings that have helped us astronomically with other media exposure this year!

    Growing our squad

    Grassroots activists are hard to come by these days, but it’s been clear that the 2018 Las Vegas NORML crew is no force to reckon with! The newly organized board, expert advisors, team of awesome volunteers & sponsors have been quickly gaining traction in the community and everyone is having a blast doing it! Las Vegas NORML volunteers are a diverse and passionate group of individuals that have worked tirelessly this past year to develop a positive reputation throughout the community. It is because of community members and new activists involvement that the organization continues to strengthen and grow!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director December 28, 2018

    Looking back at 2018, it was another productive year for marijuana law reform advocates. In addition to advancing legislation in state houses around the country, NORML chapters played a significant role in passing marijuana law reform initiatives in Michigan and Missouri, and were instrumental in numerous municipal marijuana decriminalization victories.

    With more and more local and state governments taking steps to reduce the arrest and incarceration of marijuana patients and consumers, many are predicting 2019 to be a watershed year for marijuana law reform legislation. That’s why dozens of NORML chapters are organizing citizen lobby days to advocate for the end of marijuana prohibition and other reforms ranging from depenalization and expungement, to workplace drug testing and social consumption.

    Below is a preview of what to expect from NORML chapters in 2019.

    Michigan

    Following the passage of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act last November, which legalized the possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and up, state lawmakers will be focused on implementing various aspects of the new law in 2019. This includes robust policy debates ranging from health and public safety, to the allocation of tax revenues and consumer protections. At the local level, several municipalities have already opted out of recreational marijuana sales resulting in members of Michigan NORML working overtime to defend the progress that has been made well in advance of next year’s legislative session.

    “2018 was an historic year in Michigan marijuana law reform. Voters passed an initiative to legalize the cultivation, possession and use of cannabis by adults 21 and over,” said Attorney Matthew Abel, who also serves as the Executive Director of Michigan NORML. “In 2019, advocates hope to expedite the opening of retail stores and microgrow facilities, and begin opening clubs allowing for open social use.”

    New York

    For months state lawmakers and officials with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office have been soliciting feedback and hosting roundtable discussions with various stakeholders with the hope of drafting legislation for next year’s legislative session. Most recently, Governor Cuomo outlined his agenda for 2019 which prioritizes the legalization of adult-use marijuana. Looking to capitalize on the Governor’s newfound support, NORML chapters across New York have organized a series of lobby days during next year’s legislative session.

    “Empire State NORML continues to push not only on the advocacy and lobbying fronts by meeting with multiple cannabis centric organizations and state leaders, but also in providing critical direct input during the drafting of the legalization law that will soon be voted on by the legislature. We will continue in our mission to educate individuals and leaders about the opportunities and innovations that a legalized cannabis marketplace will bring to all of New York,” said David C.  Holland, Esq., Executive and Legal Director of Empire State NORML.

    Members of Empire State NORML, Rochester NORML and Western New York NORML will be meeting with state lawmakers in Albany on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 and Wednesday, March 27, 2019.

    Missouri

    Missouri lawmakers will be considering numerous bills to implement Amendment 2, also known as Article XVI of the Missouri Constitution, which legalized medical marijuana for qualified patients and provided the framework for a patient registry. Working with a strict timeline, marijuana law reform advocates from across Missouri will be in be in Jefferson City to make sure lawmakers and officials with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services implements the new law in a way that respects the needs of future patients.

    “With the recent passage of New Approach Missouri’s Amendment 2, that legalized medical marijuana for qualified patients, it’s as important as ever to make sure our voices are heard in 2019,” said Jamie Kacz, Secretary of Missouri NORML. “We need to ensure the implementation process is executed in a timely manner that best serves the needs of patients in Missouri.”

    Click Here to Protect the Privacy of Missouri Medical Marijuana Patients

    Texas

    During a debate leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who was once considered to be one of the biggest obstacles facing marijuana law reform efforts in the Lone Star State, expressed his support for reducing criminal penalties for low-level marijuana possession. Since then, NORML chapters across Texas have been busy organizing activist trainings and hosting town hall style meetings as they prepare for next year’s legislative session.

    With the Texas State Legislature convening every two years, Jax Finkel, executive Director of Texas NORML has adopted an aggressive strategy to take advantage of the small window of opportunity for legislative action.

    “Texas will start out 2019 with the kickoff of our 86th Legislative Session. With a dozen bills filed and more expected, it will be an action packed 140 days. If there is ONE day to mark your calendar for and make sure you can be in Austin, it is our Citizen Lobby Day on Thursday, February 7th, 2019,” said Finkle. “We are planning this event in conjunction with our coalition partners. Last session, we had several hundred activists at the Capitol working to elevate the conversations surrounding cannabis in Texas. Let’s make this year even bigger!”

    Click Here to Support Access to Medical Marijuana for Texans

    Kentucky

    Members of Kentucky NORML, led by Executive Director Matthew Bratcher, will be focusing on legislation to establish a medical marijuana program that will allow physicians to recommend the use of medical marijuana to treat or alleviate symptoms of any diagnosed condition.

    “We have a great opportunity to pass a meaningful medical marijuana bill in 2019. Representative Jason Nemes H-33 (R) is sponsoring a “let doctors decide” bill that will allow physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to any patient based on their condition instead of relying on a predetermined list of qualifying conditions,” said Bratcher. “It’s well past time for lawmakers in Kentucky to do the right thing for our patients and our veterans. The time to pass a comprehensive medical marijuana bill is now.”

    Consumer Advocacy

    In states where medical and adult-use marijuana have been legalized, such as Washington, California, Oregon, Colorado and Massachusetts, advocates are pushing for reforms that will address the needs of patients and consumers. For example, social consumption, which has created confusion surrounding the dos and don’ts when it comes to consuming a product that’s readily available to adults 21 and up in almost a dozen states. Longtime NORML Board Member and outspoken social consumption advocate, Madeline Martinez shared her thoughts.

    “In Oregon it rains at least seven months out of the year and the most vulnerable patients are expected to find a private space outside where they can consume in the shadows, this practice is inhumane,” said Martinez. “Also in Oregon there are not a lot of safe spaces to consume cannabis, especially for low income people living in federally subsidized housing and renters, this disproportionately affects people of color and poor. The insidious Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act must be corrected by removing all mention of cannabinoids.”

    There’s also the issue of workplace drug testing. A discriminatory practice that’s putting millions of law-abiding and responsible adults at risk of losing their employment due to a THC-positive drug test. That’s why NORML chapters in several states are focusing their attention on legislation that will protect honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from antiquated workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random, suspicionless urine testing.

    “About every six weeks or so I get a call from someone who lost their job or was denied an employment opportunity because of a positive urine test based on past cannabis use,” said Attorney Lee Berger, who’s also a member of NORML’s Legal Committee. “It’s been three years since Oregon voters legalized the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. The time to address these discriminatory practices is long overdue.”

    Click Here to Protect Marijuana Consumers from Employment Discrimination

    The following NORML Chapter Lobby Days have been scheduled for 2019:

    Connecticut NORML – 1/9/2019

    Delaware NORML – 1/10/2019

    Virginia NORML – 1/14/2019

    NoVA NORML – 1/14/2019

    Harrisonburg NORML – 1/14/2019

    Jefferson Area NORML – 1/14/2019

    RVA NORML – 1/14/2019

    Winchester NORML – 1/14/2019

    Western New York NORML – 1/15/2019

    NORML Women of Washington – 1/21/2019

    NORML Tallahassee – 1/22/2019

    Central Florida NORML – 1/22/2019

    NORML Appalachia of Ohio – 1/23/2019

    Denver NORML – 1/23/2019

    Kansas City NORML – 1/30/2019

    Missouri NORML – 1/30/2019

    Illinois NORML – 1/30/2019

    Chicago NORML – 1/30/2019

    Mid Missouri NORML – 1/30/2019

    Greater St Louis NORML – 1/30/2019

    Nevada NORML – 2/1/2019

    North Carolina NORML – 2/4/2019

    NORML of Catawba Valley – 2/4/2019

    Charlotte NORML – 2/4/2019

    NC NORML of the Triad – 2/4/2019

    NC NORML of the Triangle – 2/4/2019

    Maryland NORML – 2/4/2019

    Texas NORML – 2/7/2019

    DFW NORML – 2/7/2019

    Arizona NORML – 2/7/2019

    Peachtree NORML – 2/7/2019

    Madison NORML – 2/21/2019

    Kentucky NORML – 2/26/2019

    Lehigh Valley NORML – 3/18/2019

    Pittsburgh NORML – 3/18/2019

    Philly NORML – 3/18/2019

    South Philly NORML – 3/18/2019

    Empire State NORML – 3/27/2019

    Rochester NORML – 3/27/2019

    California NORML – 5/6/2019

    To support these efforts, we’ve created several resources like NORML’s Citizen Lobby Guide (http://norml.org/pdf_files/NORML_CitizenLobbyGuide.pdf) and Fact Sheets (https://norml.org/marijuana/fact-sheets). We’re also working with chapter leadership to develop policy one-pagers, FAQs, and other resources specific to their needs. And of course there’s NORML’s Action Center (http://norml.org/act) that supporters of marijuana law reforms can use to urge their lawmakers to support pending legislation.

    For more than 45 years NORML chapters have been the driving force behind marijuana law reforms on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please reach out to Chapters@NORML.org for help starting your own!

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more Information follow NORML on Facebook and Twitter and visit our website!

  • by Justin See, Board Member, Indiana NORML November 15, 2018

    On Tuesday, November 6th, Indiana voters took their final opportunity to vote in the 2018 midterm election. While Indiana did not have the opportunity to vote directly on cannabis propositions as in other states, there were numerous candidates on the ballot supportive of reforming our cannabis laws. Many of them did not win their races, but this election was not without wins for cannabis reform in Indiana. Here are some highlights and some races we’re still watching:

    JD Ford: State Senate District 29

    During the 2018 session, state senator Mike Delph (R) voted against legalizing CBD products in Indiana, an issue widely supported by Hoosiers. JD Ford (D), on the other hand, actively campaigned on the issue of cannabis. “I believe that it is time to work with law enforcement agencies, healthcare groups, and other stakeholders to legalize medical cannabis and decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis,” Ford told us in response to one of our candidate survey questions. Delph responded to the same question about decriminalization by stating that, “This is not our most pressing area of criminal law. From a practical standpoint, we really need the federal government to address its position before we can meaningfully do so at the state level.”

    JD Ford won his race and will be a new voice for reforming our cannabis laws in the Indiana Senate, where the sentiment on cannabis legislation is thought to be more even more hostile than in the House.

    Chris Campbell: Indiana House District 26

    Chris Campbell (D) ran against incumbent state representative Sally Siegriest (R), and won with 57% of the vote. In response to our candidate survey, Campbell said she was supportive of implementing a medical cannabis program in Indiana, decriminalizing cannabis, and allowing retail sales of cannabis for personal use.

    Chris Chyung: Indiana House District 15

    In house district 15, Chris Chyung (D) won his race against incumbent Harold Slager (R). “The federal government also needs to set clear guidelines on the legality of cannabis,” Chyung said in response to a question posed by NWI Times about issues that required action from the federal government, “Colorado has benefited to the tune of over half a billion dollars in revenue alone, and more in jobs growth and economic development. I will never allow Indiana to leave that kind of potential money on the table.”

    Other races with supportive candidates remain to be called. Due to widespread issues at polling locations, results for Indiana’s 4th house district might not be available until November 16th, although candidate Frank Szczepanski (D) supports implementing a medical program, decriminalization, and the legalization of retail sales for personal use.

    Read more here: https://www.inorml.org/election-highlights/

    For more information about marijuana law reform efforts in Indiana, follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director October 3, 2018

    With 47 states and the District of Columbia permitting the use of marijuana or its extracts in some form, new questions concerning employers’ rights, lawful marijuana use by employees, and maintaining a safe workplace have been raised. The biggest issue? While it’s legal to possess and consume marijuana in several states, it’s still illegal under federal law, an inconsistency that has created some confusion for employers who are unsure how to address marijuana in the workplace from a policy perspective. This untenable situation puts millions of law-abiding and responsible adults at risk of losing their employment simply because of a THC-positive drug test.

    Workplace Drug Testing

    Urinalysis testing is the most common form of pre-employment and workplace drug testing, but because it only detects trace metabolites (inert waste-products) of past use of a wide range of substances, they fail to prove either impairment or how recently marijuana was consumed. This activity is particularly discriminatory in the case of marijuana, where such metabolites may be detectable for weeks or even months after consumption.

    Surprisingly, there is no requirement for most private employers to have a drug-free workplace policy of any kind. However, there are a few exceptions such as federal contractors and safety-sensitive positions (e.g. airline pilots, truck and bus drivers, train conductors, etc.). Even employers who are required to maintain a drug-free workplace are not required to use drug testing as a means to enforce company policies.

    Impairment Detection

    New technology developed in recent years provides an extraordinary opportunity to change the way we discuss the issue of workplace drug testing. By embracing a new strategy that emphasizes the importance of impairment detection and workplace safety, we can reframe the conversation to focus on creating a 21st century workplace that’s free of dangerous impairment levels, not just from illegal substances, but also alcohol, prescription drugs, stress, and fatigue.  

    That’s why we’re stressing the importance of impairment detection. One example of such a technology is from Predictive Safety, a company based in Centennial, Colorado that created AlertMeter, which measures a person’s cognitive abilities with a 60 second test and can easily be used on most smart devices.

    “The road to normalization is about detecting impairment, not past marijuana use. The only thing that should matter is, ‘Are you fit for work?,’ not, ‘Have you ingested marijuana?,’” said Carol Setters of Predictive Safety.

    Vforge, an aluminum fabrication company has been using this new technology for several years. As a result, they’ve seen a 90% decrease in drug testing costs and a 70% reduction in worker compensation claims – further proof that a new strategy focused on impairment detection is not only beneficial for employees, but more profitable for companies as well. This changes the dynamic of the conversation all together.

    AlertMeter: https://vimeo.com/253068230

    Unlike drug tests that do not measure impairment, implementing reasonable impairment testing contributes to safe workplaces while protecting individual rights.

    What’s Being Done?

    NORML chapters from around the country are shifting their attention to protecting honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from antiquated, discriminatory workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random, suspicionless urine testing. Earlier this year NORML chapters in Colorado and California worked diligently to address the issue legislatively, but experienced push back from conservative lawmakers and pro-business organizations, respectively.

    Several states including Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine*, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania Massachusetts and Rhode Island currently prohibit employers from discriminating against workers based on their status as a medical marijuana patient. Laws in Arizona, Delaware, and Minnesota specify that a positive drug test alone does not indicate impairment. Similar protections have long applied to medical use of opiates and other prescription drugs.

    Looking ahead, NORML chapters in California, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington are planning their legislative strategies and educating lawmakers on the issue in advance of their 2019 state legislative sessions. We’ll likely see legislation to address workplace drug testing introduced in California, Oregon and Colorado while chapters in other states will focus their time and energy on educational efforts.

    At the federal level, Representative Charlie Crist recently introduced H.R. 6589: The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act, bipartisan legislation that would explicitly prohibit federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a marijuana consumer, or testing positive for marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

    Marijuana Legalization and Workplace Safety

    Mounting evidence continues to prove there is no logical reason why adult marijuana consumers should be treated with any less respect, restricted more severely, and denied the same privileges we extend to responsible adults who enjoy a cocktail after a long day at the office. As a matter of fact, researchers with Colorado State University, Montana State University, and American University came to the conclusion that the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana is associated with a 19.5% reduction in the expected number of workplace fatalities.

    “Our results suggest that legalizing medical marijuana leads to a reduction in workplace fatalities among workers aged 25–44. This reduction may be the result of workers substituting marijuana in place of alcohol and other substances that can impair cognitive function and motor skills.”

    Read more here: http://blog.norml.org/2018/08/10/study-medical-cannabis-access-laws-associated-with-fewer-workplace-fatalities/

    Additionally, researchers with Quest Diagnostics recently found that the rate of positive drug tests in Colorado, where medical and adult-use marijuana is legal, increased by 1% between 2016 and 2017 while the national average increased by 4% during the same timeframe.

    “When Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana, a short-lived spike occurred in the rate of positive drug tests, but it has since tapered off,” said Barry Sample, Quest’s senior director for science and technology.

    Read more here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/legal-marijuana-hasnt-led-to-epidemic-of-high-workers/

    The following factsheet highlights several recent peer-reviewed studies assessing the potential impact of marijuana regulation on workplace safety and performance: http://norml.org/aboutmarijuana/item/marijuana-legalization-and-impact-on-the-workplace

    Considering marijuana’s increasingly legal status and availability in states across the country, consumers should no longer be forced to choose between a job and consuming a legal substance that doesn’t impair the facilities because of outdated employment practices.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director September 20, 2018

    With a state legislative session spanning almost an entire calendar year, supporters of marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania are working overtime to make sure their voices are heard. That’s why members of Lehigh Valley NORML, Pittsburgh NORML, Lancaster NORML and Philly NORML are teaming up with the Keystone Cannabis Coalition and ACLU of Pennsylvania for rally and lobby day next week in the state’s capital of Harrisburg.

    Click Here to RSVP Today!

    “Marijuana activists in Pennsylvania are poised to introduce an aggressive agenda for reform in 2019 when they fill the Capitol Rotunda at 10am on Monday, September 24,” said Jeff Riedy, Executive Director of Lehigh Valley NORML. “With cannabis arrest counts rising across the state and neighboring states threatening legalization, the time is right for this discussion in Pennsylvania.”

    But activists in the Keystone State have come a very long way in just a short amount of time.

    Local Victories

    In late 2014 Philadelphia’s city council decriminalized simple possession of marijuana. Little did they know, their decision would trigger a wave of municipalities across the Commonwealth to adopt similar measures. In the years following, local lawmakers in Pittsburgh, State College, Harrisburg, York, Erie, and most recently, Bethlehem followed suit.

    These local victories were celebrated not just by advocates, but also the Commonwealth’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who shared the following statement:

    “Decriminalization saves millions of dollars spent yearly on marijuana prosecutions. Decriminalization also has human benefits by reducing the loss of income and other social, personal and emotional impacts on those arrested for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana.”

    Full statement here: https://bit.ly/2NvfopR

    Statewide Victories

    Following the flurry of local marijuana law reform victories across the Commonwealth, lawmakers in Harrisburg passed SB 3: The Medical Marijuana Act in 2015 which was later signed into law by Governor Wolf in early 2016. Passage of the law established rules and regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program which permits registered patients to access cannabis oils, pills and tinctures, but due to a restriction against smoking, the availability of marijuana flower was delayed.

    After months of pressure from patients and advocacy groups, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana advisory board recommended several updates to the state’s program. One of which, was allowing the sale of marijuana flower. The catch? It must be consumed using a vaporizer. This means no smoking. Regardless of a few hiccups, dispensaries began serving patients earlier this year.

    Looking ahead, advocates are hoping to educate state lawmakers about the benefits of ending the criminalization and harassment of honest, hardworking Pennsylvanians for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana.

    “New legislation will be introduced at the rally, as 2019 will mark the first time that PA will have partner bills for decriminalization and legalization in both House and Senate. If Pennsylvanians could vote on cannabis legalization in November, I am confident that we would win,” added Riedy.

    Midterm Election

    Considering Pennsylvania is one of several states that lacks a ballot initiative process, all marijuana law reform efforts must be pursued through the state legislature. This means, in order to be successful, advocates must educate those who are willing to listen or elect new, more supportive lawmakers to represent them in Harrisburg. So make no mistake, the outcome of this November’s election will certainly have an impact on the future of marijuana in the Keystone State.  

    Register To Vote Today!

    That’s why we’re encouraging voters in Pennsylvania to support Jon Fetterman, an outspoken supporter of legalizing marijuana, who is running for Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Fetterman was the very first candidate endorsed by NORML PAC for the 2018 midterm elections.

    Read more about our endorsement here: https://bit.ly/2OMBjoM

    For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania, follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Twitter and Facebook!

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