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  • 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 Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate November 16, 2018

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

    U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a “guarantee” that hemp legalization will be in the finalized Farm Bill. “If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there, I guarantee that,” he told reporters.

    Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) has introduced a series of bills aimed at addressing the therapeutic use of marijuana among veterans.

    Incoming U.S. House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA) says he will allow floor debates and votes on marijuana amendments, “unlike his predecessors.”

    At the state level, Utah lawmakers are expected to consider a compromise medical cannabis bill during a special session beginning December 3.

    New Jersey’s Assembly speaker and Senate president said they expect committee votes on legalizing marijuana by the end of this month. The Republican Assembly leader said legalization is “inevitable.” And a key state senator who was once opposed to ending prohibition is now expressing support.

    A spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the governor plans to “introduce a formal comprehensive [marijuana legalization] proposal during the 2019 legislative session.” A New York senator said she believes Cuomo and lawmakers will legalize marijuana in the state via the 2019 budget.

    It’s possible that Massachusetts recreational marijuana sales could begin on Sunday. The state’s top regulator said sales will likely start in “a week plus or minus maybe a couple of days longer than that.”

    The Vermont marijuana legalization study committee’s taxation and regulation subcommittee plans to recommend a 26% or 27% tax rate on sales.

    An Indiana state senator plans to file several marijuana reform bills, including decriminalization and medical marijuana legislation. A North Dakota representative plans to file a marijuana decriminalization bill. A Wisconsin state senator also plans to introduce a bill in 2019 to legalize marijuana for adults.

    Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz (D) and the incoming House speaker said that the state will consider legalizing marijuana in 2019.

    At a more local level, the Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor said she will stop pursuing most marijuana possession cases. Similarly, Albany County, New York’s district attorney said that starting on December 1, he will no longer prosecute simple marijuana possession cases.

    Muskegon County, Michigan’s prosecutor is dropping some pending marijuana charges in light of legalization and is considering expunging past convictions. Separately, some Michigan municipalities are already moving to opt out of allowing legal marijuana sales, at least temporarily.

    Following are the bills 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

    Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

    Click here to email your federal lawmakers and urge them to support this important legislation

    Texas

    House Bill 63 has been pre-filed by Rep. Joe Moody that seeks to replace current criminal sanctions for marijuana possession with a civil penalty, punishable by a fine only with no jail or criminal record.

    TX resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization

    Senate Bill 90 has been pre-filed by Sen. Jose Menendez that seeks to expand the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) and make it more inclusive and compassionate for patients.

    TX resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical cannabis expansion

    Virginia

    Senator Adam Ebbin filed Senate Bill 997, seeking to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana in Virginia.

    If passed, the bill would provide a civil penalty of no more than $50 for a first violation, $100 for a second violation, and $250 for a third or subsequent violation. The bill also requires that the suspended sentence substance abuse screening provisions and driver’s license suspension provisions apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a juvenile.

    VA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 13, 2018

    Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern says that he will permit federal lawmakers to debate and vote on marijuana-related amendments when he assumes control of the House Rules Committee in 2019.

    “Unlike my predecessor, I’m not going to block amendments for marijuana,” he said. “Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind.”

    Representative McGovern replaces outgoing Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid to Democrat Colin Allred. Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. His actions single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms — such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

    “Representative Pete Sessions was the single greatest impediment in the US House to the passage of common-sense, voter-supported marijuana law reform measures,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “His departure opens the door for the possibility of House lawmakers in 2019 enacting a number of significant, NORML-endorsed policy changes.”

    Representative McGovern indicated that he would prioritize legislative measures to limit federal interference in legal marijuana states, to expand medical cannabis access for veterans, and to amend federal banking restrictions on the legal cannabis industry.

    “This just seems like common-sense stuff,” McGovern said. “Especially on the issue of medical marijuana — people who are opposed to that are just on the wrong side of public opinion, overwhelmingly. It’d be nice if, every once in a while, Congress acted in a way that people wanted. I know that may seem like a radical idea, but come on.”

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate November 9, 2018

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

    This week was a big week for marijuana with Michigan voters approving the legalization and retail sale for adults, and Utah and Missouri voting to allow medical marijuana access.

    There were also 16 counties and two cities in Wisconsin that approved non-binding marijuana related ballot measures, as well as five cities in Ohio that voted to remove all criminal possession penalties. Read more here.

    In other news unrelated to the election, Massachusetts regulators are saying that adult use retail sales will begin within days, after being delayed from the original start date on July 1.

    The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board, mainly made up of physicians, voted in favor of adding autism as a medical cannabis qualifying condition, but rejected PTSD, bipolar disorder and ADHD. They also voted to keep the THC cap at 3%. This recommendation now has to be approved by the Iowa Board of Medicine. Separately, the state’s first dispensary will begin selling low-THC medical cannabis products on December 1.

    In light of Michigan’s new legalization and regulation policy, Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer (D) is considering options to expunge marijuana records.

    Two Tennessee lawmakers are preparing to file medical cannabis legislation.

    New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and lawmakers are still negotiating tax rates for marijuana legalization legislation. They had originally set a date for a vote on the measure for October 29.

    New York’s Assembly speaker said “sealing low-level marijuana possession convictions” should be a priority for 2019.

    At a more local level, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced that she plans to pursue legal marijuana sales in the nation’s capital in early 2019.

    The Green Bay, Wisconsin City Council approved an ordinance to lower the penalties for marijuana possession and the Santa Fe, New Mexico City Council is considering a resolution calling for “legalization, decriminalization and/or regulation of cannabis and cannabis-related products for recreational use.”

    Additionally, in huge non-U.S. news, a key Mexican senator who will be a member of the new presidential administration filed a bill to legalize marijuana production and sales. The move comes less than one week after the nation’s Supreme Court struck down the criminalization of cannabis.

    Following are the bills 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

    Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

    Click here to email your federal lawmakers and urge them to support this important legislation

    New York

    A11390 seeks to require public health insurance programs to cover medical marijuana related costs.

    The measure amends state law so that publicly funded health programs, including the largely-publicly funded Essential Plan, would treat medical cannabis like any other legal prescription drug “for the purposes of coverage under medical assistance.”

    Update: Companion legislation, S9189, was introduced on 11/2/18 and referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

    NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana coverage

  • by NORML November 2, 2018

    With the marijuana midterms right around the corner, it’s imperative that you know who you’re voting for, what issues are going to be on your ballot, and where your voting location is leading up to Election Day this Tuesday November 6th. To see who the most 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 cities, be sure to vote YES on the following marijuana ballot initiatives.

    Dayton

    Shall the Dayton Revised Code of General Ordinances be amended to decriminalize specific misdemeanor marihuana and hashish offenses?

    Garrettsville

    “Shall the proposed ordinance to lower the penalties for misdemeanor marihuana offenses to the lowest penalties allowed by state law be adopted?”

    Windham

    “Shall the proposed ordinance to lower the penalties for misdemeanor marihuana offenses to the lowest penalties allowed by state law be adopted?”

    Fremont

    “Shall the proposed Sensible Marihuana Ordinance which lowers the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law be adopted?”

    Norwood

    “Shall the proposed ordinance adding Section 513.15 Marijuana Laws and Penalties to the City of Norwood Municipal Code, which would lower the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law, be adopted?”

    Oregon

    “Shall the proposed Sensible Marihuana Ordinance which lowers the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law be adopted?”

    Make sure you know where your polling location is, who the most cannabis friendly candidiates are, and be sure to get to the polls on November 6th to #SmokeTheVote!

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