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NORML Blog

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 14, 2019

    Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has signed legislation, Senate Bill 5605, facilitating the expungement of past low-level marijuana convictions.

    The measure states: “Every person convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana offenses, who was 21 years of age or older at the time of the offense, may apply to the sentencing court for a vacation of the applicant’s record of conviction for the offense. … If an applicant qualifies under this subsection, the court shall vacate the record of conviction.”

    Governor Inslee said: “This is a matter of fairness and justice. We should not be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal in this state.”

    The new law takes effect on July 27, 2019.

    Additional information on pending marijuana legislation is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 13, 2019

    Marijuana CBD OilQualified patients now have limited access to medical cannabis products, after the state’s first licensed dispensaries began making sales this week. Voters initially approved medical cannabis access by passing a statewide initiative in November 2016.

    Under the law, qualified patients may obtain both herbal preparations of cannabis and infused cannabis products from state-licensed dispensaries. Products must be derived from plants harvested by one of five state-licensed cultivators. To date, only one cultivator is operational. Two additional cultivators are expecting to harvest their initial crops this summer.

    Nearly 12,000 patients are licensed in the state to participate in the medical cannabis access program.

    Arkansas is one of 33 states that permits medical cannabis access.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator May 10, 2019

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

    Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries announced their intentions to introduce legislation known as the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), thus ending the nearly century-long federal policy of criminalization and prohibition.

    Governor Doug Bergum (R) of North Dakota signed a bill into law that will remove the threat of jail time for the possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana.

    Governor Kevin Stitt (R) of Oklahoma signed legislation into law to permit osteopaths to recommend medical cannabis to their patients.

    Governor Eric Holcomb (R) of Indiana and Governor Ned Lamont (D) of Connecticut signed industrial hemp legislation into law.

    A campaign committee called Smart and Safe Arizona is preparing to launch a campaign to qualify a 2020 adult use marijuana legalization ballot initiative in the state.

    Members of an Ohio medical board committee recommended that autism and anxiety be added to the state’s medical cannabis qualifying conditions list, but rejected petitions to add depression, insomnia, and opioid addiction.

    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

    End Prohibition: 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.

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

    Alabama

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 236, to allow qualifying patients with certain debilitating conditions to use and safely access medical cannabis.

    Update: SB 236 was approved by the Senate on 5/9/19,  and now heads to the House.

    AL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 96 / Senate Bill 98, to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    The measure would reduce the penalty for the possession of one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $6,000, to a non-criminal violation punishable by a maximum fine of $250.

    Update: HB 96 was defeated in the House Committee on Judiciary on 5/8/19 by a 6-5 vote.

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

    California

    Legislation is pending, AB 1465, that would allow licensing of cannabis consumption cafés and lounges in California.

    Update: AB 1465 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 5/16/19.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis consumption lounges

    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 Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/13/19 at 10am in the John L. Burton Hearing Room.

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

    Colorado

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 19-220, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Separately, SB 19-240 would create a working group to study industrial hemp and also allow localities within the state to adopt ordinances to regulate hemp products.

    Update: Both SB 220 and SB 240 were approved by the House of Representatives on 4/30/19, and will now be delivered to the governor.

    CO resident? Click here to email your governor in support of industrial hemp production

    Connecticut

    A package of bills, soon to be combined into one omnibus bill, to permit the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for adults 21 and over is pending.

    Update: Lawmakers in the state’s legislature are confident that the ‘yes’ votes are there to pass the legislation through the House of Representatives, but remain unsure about the bill’s future in the Senate.

    CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    Delaware

    Bipartisan legislation is pending, SB 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 approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 5/8/19.

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

    Iowa

    Legislation is pending, HF 754 and SF 599, to establish an industrial hemp program to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SF 599 was delivered to the Governor’s desk on 5/6/19.

    IA resident? Click here to email your governor in support of this effort

    Illinois

    Legislation is pending, The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (an amendment to SB 7), to regulate the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of adult use marijuana.

    The measure would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana and cultivate up to 5 marijuana plants in the home.

    The proposal also includes provisions facilitating the automatic expungement of certain prior convictions as well as equity within the industry.

    IL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of efforts to regulate adult use marijuana and level the playing field for social equity applicants to receive a fair opportunity to compete in the legal market

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 455, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

    Update: SB 455 was approved by the Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committee on 5/8/19.

    IL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access in schools

    Louisiana

    House Bill 509 would allow adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, and permit the Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the state Board of Pharmacy to issue the licenses for production and sale, respectively.

    House Bill 462 would amend the Louisiana constitution to allow municipalities within the state to hold referendums on whether or not to allow the use, possession, and retail sale of adult use cannabis in their jurisdictions.

    House Bill 564 seeks to regulate adult use cannabis. The bill would allow the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to issue up to 15 cannabis production licenses. Retailer licenses would be issued by the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to sell up to one ounce per customer per day. This measure would also allow adults to obtain a permit to grow personal use quantities of cannabis at home.

    Update: Both HB 509 and HB 462 are scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on 5/14/19 at 9am in room 6. HB 564 was heard in the House Committee on Agriculture on 5/8/2019, and the committee reported the bill without action. The bill will be recommitted to the Committee on Judiciary.

    LA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 59, to reduce marijuana possession penalties for first time offenders.

    The measure removes the threat of jail time for first-time offenders who possess no more than 14 grams of marijuana (about half an ounce).

    Update: HB 59 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on 5/14/19 at 9am in room 6.

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

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

    The measure would also allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis to any patient whom they believe will benefit from its therapeutic use.

    Update: HB 358 is scheduled to be considered on the House floor on 5/14/9.

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

    House Bill 491 would regulate industrial hemp production in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 491 was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on 5/7/19. The bill was amended to include provisions regulating the production and retail sale of hemp-derived CBD products.

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

    Nebraska

    LB 110 is pending to allow qualifying patients with certain debilitating conditions to use and safely access medical cannabis via licensed providers.

    Update: LB 110 was approved by the Judiciary Committee on 5/10/19, and is set to be considered on the floor of the unicameral legislature next week.

    NE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

    Legislation is pending, LB 657, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: LB 657 was approved by the legislature on 5/2/19, and now awaits action from the governor.

    NE resident? Click here to email your governor in support of industrial hemp production

    Nevada

    Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 192, to allow individuals to get their records vacated for offenses that are no longer a crime in Nevada.

    Update: AB 192 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 5/6/19 and again on 5/10.

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

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, HB 350, to expand medical cannabis access.

    The measure expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

    Update: The House concurred with Senate amendments on 5/3/19, and the bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

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

    Oklahoma

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 2614, to amend the possession penalties for individuals who use cannabis for a qualifying condition, but are not in possession of a medical marijuana identification card.

    The measure would reduce the penalty for this offense from a criminal misdemeanor to a citation, punishable by a maximum fine of $400.

    Update: The House disagreed with the Senate’s amendments to HB 2614, so the bill will now go to a conference committee for reconciliation.

    OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions

    Oregon

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 970, to protect state-sanctioned medical cannabis patients, as well as those with prior or pending cannabis convictions, from housing discrimination.

    Update: The House Human Services and Housing Committee held a work session on SB 970 on 5/6/19.

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

    Texas

    Legislation is pending, HB 1365, to expand medical cannabis access in Texas by allowing doctors to recommend it to those with several additional conditions.

    Update: HB 1365 was approved by the House of Representatives on 5/6/19, and now heads to the Senate.

    TX resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

    Legislation is pending, HB 1325, to regulate the production of industrial hemp in Texas.

    Update: HB 1325 was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee on 5/7/19.

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

    Vermont

    S. 54 is pending to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

    Update: S. 54 was heard by the House Committees on Ways and Means and Appropriations this week.

    VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of regulation

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 58, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: S. 58 was heard by the House Committee on Appropriations on 5/7/19.

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

    Washington

    Senate Bill 5605, to allow individuals with prior misdemeanor cannabis convictions to apply to the sentencing court to have their record vacated, is awaiting action from Governor Inslee.

    Update: Gov. Inslee stated that he intends to sign the bill into law.

    WA resident? Click here to email your governor in support of expungement

  • by NORML May 9, 2019

    Today, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries announced their intentions to introduce legislation known as the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), thus ending the nearly century-long federal policy of criminalization and prohibition.

    Send a message to your elected officials in support of this legislation now.

    NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said,

    “The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is comprehensive legislation that would end our nation’s failed 80-year prohibition of marijuana and allow states to implement reforms free from the threat of federal interference.”

    “This bill is part of the continued shift of Democratic Party leadership. At a time when 68 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, including outright majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent), it is time for ending federal prohibition to become a truly bipartisan issue in the eyes of voters.”

    “Legislative relief must come sooner rather than later. Over 650,000 Americans, disproportionately black, brown, young, and poor, are arrested for violating marijuana laws annually. Those without the means to defend themselves from the state bear the greatest burden and lifelong consequences of this ongoing failed federal policy. It is time for Congressional leaders to take a stand to right these past wrongs.”

    “The importance of this bill’s emphasis on facilitating the expunging of individual criminal records for marijuana possession cannot be overstated. Millions of Americans have suffered from the lifelong collateral consequences of criminal prohibition, making it harder for them to find a job, obtain housing, and access higher education.”

    “As states dial back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were impacted by this oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied, and be provided the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation.”

    At the time of introduction, the bill sponsors said:

    “It’s time to decriminalize marijuana, and this bill is a critical first step,” said Leader Charles E.  Schumer (D-NY). “The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would give states the right to make their own choices when it comes to regulation; better equip all Americans, particularly communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana’s criminalization, to participate in the growing marijuana economy; and, by incentivizing sealing and expungement programs, provide Americans with low-level marijuana convictions the opportunity to move forward.”

    “For far too long, the impact of America’s repressive, archaic marijuana laws has been felt most heavily by people of color,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). “This critical effort works to correct that injustice by providing $100 million toward expungement programs and creating an investment fund for people of color and female entrepreneurs who wish to enter the lucrative legal cannabis industry.”

    Send a message in support of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act to your Senators and Representative in just one click here. 

     


    According to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2017. That total is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrests for the commission of violent crimes (518,617) in 2017. Of those arrested for marijuana crimes, just under 91 percent (599,000) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses, a slight increase over the previous year’s annual totals. Total marijuana arrests in 2017 increased for the second straight year, after having fallen for nearly a decade.

    Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional thirteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

    Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to 2018 national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

    Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

    To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

    Specifically, a 2019 report estimates that over 211,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 8, 2019

    Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has signed legislation into law reducing marijuana possession penalties.

    House Bill 1050 reclassifies the possession of up to one-half ounce (14.175 grams) of cannabis and/or the personal possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia for a first-time offender from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, to a criminal infraction – punishable by a fine but no possibility of jail time. Those charged with subsequent infractions over the course of a calendar year may face the possibility of misdemeanor charges.

    In 2016, North Dakota ranked sixth in the nation in per capita marijuana possession arrests.

    Separate provisions in the measure reduce penalties for the possession of up to 500 grams of cannabis from a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to a class B misdemeanor. Penalties for the possession of greater amounts are amended from a felony to a Class A misdemeanor.

    The new penalties will take effect on August 1, 2019.

    For additional information on pending legislative reforms, visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

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