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  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director January 8, 2019

    Since the passage of Proposition 1, officially known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which legalized the sale, possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and up last November, members of Michigan NORML have encountered a new challenge: municipal opt-out. Similar to other states that have legalized adult-use marijuana like Colorado, California and Oregon, it’s up to municipal governments in Michigan to decide if legal marijuana businesses can operate within their communities.

    To date, more than 80 municipalities in Michigan have imposed moratoriums or outright bans on the sale of adult-use marijuana. In some cases, like with the city of Troy where residents opposed Proposition 1, it’s due to a lack of support for legal marijuana. In other cities, municipal governments are simply waiting until they have a better understanding of how the new law will be implemented by state lawmakers before exploring rules and regulations for local licensing.

    “I’m confident that many municipalities will opt-in after the State promulgates administrative rules and sample ordinance amendments are made available to municipal attorneys,” said Brad Forrester, Board Member of Michigan NORML. “Some of the municipal officials I’ve spoken with have expressed an interest, but they don’t really understand exactly how the process works and they said they’re awaiting guidance from State officials.”

    Considering many who supported Proposition 1 believed passage of the new law was going to eliminate underground marijuana sales by providing access to a legal and regulated alternative, the decision by municipal governments to opt-out of the sale of adult-use marijuana appears to undermine the intent of the initiative and expectations of voters. We’re at a tipping point in America with regard to public support for ending marijuana prohibition, but there’s still plenty of work to do, especially at the local level.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths and misinformation with NORML’s Fact Sheets! Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director December 16, 2018

    Following the lead of other major cities and counties in states that have legalized adult-use marijuana such as San Francisco and San Diego in California and Seattle and Pierce County in Washington, local officials in Colorado are taking action to undo the injustices of marijuana prohibition.

    Six years after voters in Colorado legalized adult-use marijuana, Boulder County, which encompasses the city of Boulder, and the City of Denver, have announced plans to expunge past convictions of low-level marijuana crimes from criminal records. Regardless of adult-use marijuana being legal to possess and consume in 10 states, a lingering marijuana-related conviction can prevent otherwise honest and hardworking adults from job opportunities, housing and financial resources.

    Boulder County Assistant District Attorney Ken Kupfner shared his thoughts in a recent interview with Colorado Public Radio:

    “We want to help people whose convictions are having the greatest impact first,” Kupfner said. “It could span everything from jobs to potential housing to educational opportunities. Anytime someone has a conviction, even for marijuana, it still shows up as a conviction.”

    Read more here: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/boulder-county-makes-move-to-cancel-past-marijuana-convictions

    Following the announcement from the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled a new citywide effort to expunge low-level marijuana convictions that occurred in Denver before voters legalized adult-use marijuana in 2012. According to the Mayor’s office, more than 10,000 convictions for low-level marijuana crimes will be eligible for expungement.

    Read more here: https://komonews.com/news/local/following-seattle-denver-officials-want-to-erase-low-level-marijuana-offenses

    Colorado state law currently only allows for the expungement of juvenile records, arrests based on mistaken identity and underage DUI offenses. However, in 2017 Representatives Edie Hooton and Jovan Melton worked together to pass HB 1266, which allows those who were convicted of criminal offenses for the use, cultivation, or possession of marijuana to petition for the sealing of criminal records. Certainly a step in the right direction.

    Lawmakers in California, Delaware, Rhode Island, Oregon and others have taken similar steps to allow for the expungement of marijuana-related convictions or at the very least, seal criminal records. With a record number of state legislatures expected to consider numerous bills to tax and regulate adult-use marijuana in 2019, advocates can rest assured that expungement will continue to be a part of the conversation.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more information follow Colorado NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website

  • by Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML November 17, 2018

    Two years after suing to keep medical marijuana off the ballot, on Tuesday, Jean Peters Baker, the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney, announced that her office will stop prosecuting most marijuana possession cases. In June of this year, the St. Louis City Prosecuting Attorney, Kim Gardner, took similar action on simple possession cases of up to 100 grams.

    This development follows the November 6 landslide victory of Amendment 2, a state Constitutional amendment, which legalized access to medical marijuana for Missouri patients in a form similar to laws already passed in 31 other states. Missouri voters supported this measure by 66% statewide. Amendment 2 received more yes votes than any of the other issues on that ballot and any candidates on that ballot.

    Approximately 75% of the voters in Jackson County endorsed Amendment 2. In April of 2017, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved passage of a city ordinance reducing punishment for possession of marijuana to a $25 fine. That initiative, placed on the ballot by members of NORML KC, also received support from 75% of the voters, despite the campaign having almost no money and being opposed by The Kansas City Star and at least one former prosecuting attorney on the Kansas City Council.

    The decision by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to cease prosecuting most marijuana possession cases is all the more interesting when one considers the fact that only two years ago, Ms. Peters Baker joined with a handful of other Missouri prosecuting attorneys to sue the Missouri Secretary of State to keep medical marijuana off the ballot! That lawsuit did not succeed in keeping the measure off the ballot, but it did create an additional hurdle and a distraction for the campaign. The 2016 effort ultimately failed because it fell short of the number of petition signatures required in one of Missouri’s eight Congressional districts.

    Smart politicians around the state will surely soon recognize that a solid majority of Missouri voters favor progressive marijuana law reforms. NORML hopes to see this fact reflected in the actions of the Missouri General Assembly. Pre-filing of bills in the legislature begins December 1. The legislature convenes its 2019 session the first week of January. NORML calls on other Missouri Prosecutors to follow the example of the St. Louis City and Jackson County Prosecutors.

    For More Information Contact Dan Viets, 573-819-2669 or DanViets@gmail.com

    Keep up-to-date with marijuana law reform efforts in Missouri by following Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

  • by NORML October 26, 2018

    With the marijuana midterms right around the corner, it’s imperative that you know who and what is going to be on your ballot leading up to Election Day on November 6th. To see who the Vote marijuanamost pro-cannabis reform candidates are in your district, check out our Smoke the Vote scorecard and voter guide.

    In addition, if you live in any of these 16 counties and/or two cities, be sure to vote YES on the following marijuana ballot questions. In no way are these questions binding, but passing results often serve as an antecedent for legislative action by lawmakers.

    Brown County

    Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?

    Clark County

    Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?

    Dane County

    Should marijuana be legalized, taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?

    Eau Claire County (Vote option A)

    Should cannabis:

    (a) Be legal for adult, 21 years of age and older, recreational or medical use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?
    (b) Be legal for medical purposes only and available only by prescription through a medical dispensary?
    (c) Remain a criminally illegal drug as provided under current law?

    Forest County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    Kenosha County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    La Crosse County

    Should the State of Wisconsin legalize the use of marijuana by adults 21 years or older, to be taxed and regulated in the same manner that alcohol is regulated in the State of Wisconsin, with proceeds from taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?

    Langlade County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    Lincoln County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    Marathon County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    Marquette County

    Resolved, that “We the People” of Marquette County, Wisconsin support the right of its citizens to acquire, possess and use medical cannabis upon the recommendation of a licensed physician, and; Be It Further Resolved, that we strongly support a statewide referendum Wisconsin to join the thirty-two (32) states that have already approved the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, several debilitating diseases and disabling symptoms.

    Milwaukee County

    Do you favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?

    Portage County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical [treatment] purposes, if those individuals have a written [treatment] recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    Racine County

    Question No. 1: “Should marijuana be legalized for medicinal use? Question No. 2: Should marijuana be legalized, taxed, and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older? Question No. 3: Should proceeds from marijuana taxes be used to fund education, health care, and infrastructure?”

    City of Racine

    Should cannabis be legalized for adult recreational use in Wisconsin? Should cannabis be legalized for medical use in Wisconsin?
    Should cannabis sales be taxed and the revenue from such taxes be used for public education, health care, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?
    Should cannabis be decriminalize in the State of Wisconsin?

    Rock County

    Should cannabis be legalized for adult use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the Taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?

    Sauk County

    Should the state of Wisconsin legalize medical marijuana so that people with debilitating medical conditions may access medical marijuana if they have a prescription from a licenses Wisconsin physician?

    City of Waukesha

    Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?

    Just under half of Wisconsin’s population lives in the counties that will be voting on cannabis advisory questions. Make sure you know where your polling location is, and be sure to get to the polls on November 6th to #SmokeTheVote!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director September 26, 2018

    Following the lead of municipalities around the state, the City Council of Kingsland, Georgia, voted to approve a new ordinance to ease penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

    “I’m glad to see the Kingsland City Council unanimously approve this ordinance. They join Clarkston, Atlanta, Savannah, Forest Park, South Fulton and Fulton County in enacting sensible marijuana ordinances here in Georgia,” said Tom McCain, executive director of Peachtree NORML.  

    Citing concerns of racial profiling and the effects of the black market regarding teen access and use, Councilman Mike McClain was one of the most vocal proponents during Monday’s meeting to discuss the proposal.

    “There is a definite amount of racial profiling with the outdated law. We need to be on the right side of history, and I want to do the right thing,” said Mclain. “We are a small town, but we are not afraid of change when it goes to correctly police our community.”

    Read more here: https://www.allongeorgia.com/camden-local-news/kingsland-city-council-passes-relaxed-marijuana-rule/

    As state lawmakers around the country continue to drag their feet on marijuana law reforms, municipalities are taking matters into their own hands. As a result, more than 50 localities in a dozen states have adopted municipal ordinances to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    “While they cannot change Georgia Law, they can indeed lower penalties for simple possession, and in doing so, send a message to the General Assembly that it needs to follow suit at the state-level,” added McCain.

    Click Here to Review NORML’s Decriminalization Report

    To learn more about marijuana law reforms in Georgia, follow Peachtree NORML on Facebook, and Twitter or check out their website!

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

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